Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

The Corrective Action ProcessA process designed to evaluate the nature and extent of releases of a hazardous substance and implement appropriate measures to protect public health and the environment. being followed at the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) Topock Compressor Station (Station) and Project Site (Site) was established by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)A 1976 amendment to the first federal solid waste legislation, the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965. In RCRA, Congress established initial directives and guidelines for U.S. EPA to regulate and manage solid waste, including hazardous waste. RCRA established a regulatory system to track hazardous substances from the time of generation to final disposal. The law requires safe and secure procedures to be used in treating, transporting, storing and disposing of hazardous wastes. RCRA was designed to prevent new, uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. of 1980 and the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984, collectively known as RCRA. This act regulates generators of hazardous waste and hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. The Corrective Action Process requires the cleanup of contamination at RCRA-governed facilities. Facilities that treat or store hazardous substances as a part of normal operations, and where a hazardous substance has been released into the environment as a result of past or present facility operations, fall under the regulation of RCRA. To ensure cleanup remedies are appropriate for a particular site, the Corrective Action Process includes steps to evaluate the nature and extent of the hazardous substance release; and to identify, develop, and implement appropriate corrective measures to protect public health and the environment.

Investigation and cleanup activities at the Site are also conducted pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)Commonly known as Superfund, this law created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment. CERCLA established prohibitions and requirements concerning closed and abandoned hazardous waste sites; provided for liability of persons responsible for releases of hazardous waste at these sites; and established a trust fund to provide for cleanup when no responsible party could be identified. The law authorizes two kinds of response actions: Short-term removals, where actions may be taken to address releases or threatened releases requiring prompt response. Long-term remedial response actions, that permanently and significantly reduce the dangers associated with releases or threats of releases of hazardous substances that are serious, but not immediately life threatening., also known as the Superfund Law. The investigation and cleanup process under CERCLA includes steps that are similar to the RCRA process.

Corrective Action Steps and "Milestones"

The Corrective Action Process can be broken down into steps, also known as "milestones," through which a project progresses toward a final cleanup action or remedy. Please see the RCRA Corrective Action Steps and Milestones figure below.

RCRA Corrective Action Steps and Milestones figure

Corrective action steps may include:

  • Preliminary Review of pertinent, existing information.
  • Visual Site Inspection to verify preliminary information about the site and develop sampling strategy, if needed.
  • Sampling Visit to gather limited field data, if necessary.
  • RCRA Facility Assessment (RFA)A detailed, preliminary site assessment of a treatment, storage, and disposal facility that may be required to undergo some form of corrective action under RCRA. The first step in the corrective action process, an investigation to determine whether or not potential substances or other constituents of concern exist in soils or groundwater at or near a facility. A lead agency, such as DTSC, gathers information about potential chemical releases relative to chemical usage, storage and treatment at the site. to document areas that may be contaminated and to identify constituents of concern. The RFA was submitted to DTSC in August 1987. The RFA is available on the RFA/PA page of the Document Library.
  • RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI)/Remedial Investigation (RI)An investigation that occurs in the corrective action process following a Facility Assessment under RCRA and/or a Site Inspection under CERCLA. It is an in-depth study designed to gather data needed to determine the nature and extent of contamination at a site. to determine the nature and extent of contamination. Visit the RFI/RI page of this website to obtain more information about the RFI Report and the RFI/RI page of the Document Library to view available documents.
  • Human Health and Ecological Risk AssessmentsA study prepared to assess health and environmental risks due to potential exposure to hazardous substances. to evaluate potential risks to humans, plants, and animal species. Visit the RFI/RI page to obtain more information about the risk assessment.
  • Corrective Measures Study/Feasibility Study (CMS/FS)A study conducted by the facility owner/operator to identify and evaluate alternative remedies (i.e., cleanup options) to address contaminant releases at a site. to develop and evaluate alternatives that can be used to address the contamination. Visit the CMS/FS page to learn more about the CMS/FS process.
  • Remedy Selection. For the groundwater remedy, DTSC prepared two documents for public input on the proposed remedy. The Statement of BasisA document which describes the basis for DTSC's proposed remedy and cleanup standards. describes the basis for DTSC’s proposed remedy and cleanup standards. In addition, the California Environmental Quality ActA law mandating review of environmental impact of governmental action. It requires that public agencies study the significant environmental effects of proposed activities and that the public be informed and allowed to comment on project decisions. Environmental Impact Report evaluates potential impacts of the proposed cleanup action. In parallel, DOI prepared the Record of Decision and Proposed Plan.
  • Final Remedy Selection, in which DTSC and DOI formally documents and selects a final cleanup strategy after considering and responding to the public comments received.
  • Corrective Measures/Remedial Action ImplementationOnce a remedy has been selected, the facility enters the Corrective Measures Implementation phase of corrective action. During the Corrective Measures Implementation, the owner/operator of the facility implements the chosen remedy. of the selected remedy includes the design, construction, and operation of the selected remedy. Visit the Corrective Measure/Remedial Action Implementation page of this website to obtain more information.
  • Corrective Action Certification, which deems the action complete when all remedial action objectives are met.

Another step in the Corrective Action Process, Interim MeasuresCleanup actions taken to protect public health and the environment while long-term solutions are being developed., can be implemented at any point in the process (usually prior to selection of a final remedy) if immediate action is deemed necessary to control, stabilize, or eliminate a release or potential release at or from a facility.

These steps typically occur, to one degree or another, during most cleanups. No one approach to implementing these cleanup steps is likely to be appropriate for all corrective action sites. Therefore, a successful corrective action program must be procedurally flexible. The focus is on the results of the cleanup rather than a rigid cleanup process.

Corrective action activities are being conducted at the Site under a voluntary agreement between PG&E and DTSC, and a Consent Decree between PG&E and DOI. The voluntary agreement is known as the Corrective Action Consent AgreementA voluntary agreement between a lead agency and responsible party in which the company commits to investigate the nature and extent of contamination at and surrounding a site governed by RCRA, and to take corrective action. and was finalized by PG&E and DTSC on February 26, 1996. The Consent Decree is known as the Remedial Design/Remedial Action Consent Decree and was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in November 2013. In addition, DOI and DTSC executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning the coordination in overseeing the implementation of groundwater response action at the Station on November 22, 2011.

PG&E is subject to the RCRA Corrective Action Process and CERCLA Remedial Action Process because past Station operations resulted in soil and groundwater contamination at and around the Site. Hexavalent chromiumHexavalent chromium is a form of chromium. Chromium is a metal naturally found in rocks, soil, and the tissue of plants and animals. Hexavalent chromium can be found naturally at low concentrations, but it is also used in industrial products and processes and is a known carcinogen. On May 28, 2014, the California Department of Public Health adopted a new California drinking water standard at 10 parts per billion for hexavalent chromium. is the contaminant of concern in groundwaterWater beneath the Earth’s surface that flows through soil and rock openings (aquifers). at the Site; this contaminant in groundwater is called a plumeA body of contaminated groundwater. The movement of a groundwater plume can be influenced by such factors as local groundwater flow patterns, the character of the aquifer in which the groundwater is contained, and the density of contaminants. and extends from underneath the Station to underlie neighboring federal lands. PG&E is in the process of finalizing the investigation report that documents the extent of contamination of soil at the Station and its surrounding land and recommends contaminated areas for evaluation in the CMS/FS. The investigation and cleanup at the Site follows the RCRA/CERCLA Remedial Action Process described above. To learn more about corrective action activities conducted at the Site, please visit the RCRA Facility Investigation/Remedial Investigation, the Interim Measures, the Groundwater Remedy Selection, and the Corrective Measures Implementation pages on the website.