- Why are waste management issues important?
- During an incident, when should waste management issues begin to be considered?
- Who makes waste management-related decisions?
- Do waste management facilities have to accept the waste transported to them?
- Who should I contact if I have a waste management-related question?
- Which waste management option does EPA prefer?
- If a treatment option is chosen as the preferred waste management approach for a particular waste, does a disposal option also need to be identified?
- Is the information presented on this website applicable to smaller incidents as well?
Why are waste management issues important?
Nearly every incident, whether man-made or natural, will involve the management of waste. In fact, waste management can account for a significant portion of the overall cost of an incident and is an important part of the long-term recovery from an incident. Until all applicable materials are properly managed, recovery from an incident is not complete. In addition, some materials are toxic to the environment and human health. Therefore, if these materials are not properly managed in a timely fashion, the damage resulting from the incident could be exacerbated.
During an incident, when should waste management issues begin to be considered?
State, local, and tribal governments should begin considering waste management-related issues before an incident even occurs. Pre-incident planning and preparation are vital for efficient and successful waste management operations. Thinking ahead about waste management considerations, such as storage space, transportation, identification of surrounding waste facilities, and possible routes to them, and writing a waste management plan can save valuable time and money during an actual incident. If there is no waste management plan to follow, waste management issues should start being considered as soon as possible during an incident. The generation of waste can occur anytime during an incident.
Who makes waste management-related decisions?
State, local, and tribal governments are the primary decision-makers for waste management-related issues. The federal government may become involved in the decision-making process when state, local, and tribal governments request support. During an incident, EPA can provide technical information and assistance to decision-makers at the state, local, and tribal levels and will work with the other federal agencies involved.
Do waste management facilities have to accept the waste transported to them?
No, waste management facilities, including landfills and incinerators, do not have to accept the waste transported to them. Therefore, it is very important to know which facilities accept what kind of waste and identify alternate facilities, preferably before an incident occurs. To help ensure that their waste will be accepted during an incident, communities can contact facilities in advance of an incident or, to go a step further, negotiate agreements with waste management facilities to accept waste in the event of an incident. We recommend that communities develop a waste management plan, which includes identifying waste management facilities and possible alternatives, as part of their preparations for an incident. Careful waste management planning by communities can save time and money during an incident.
Who should I contact if I have a waste management-related question?
State, local, and tribal governments should be the first point of contact for waste management-related questions. EPA also can provide technical assistance on waste management-related issues. Contact EPA for assistance.
Which waste management option does EPA prefer?
While EPA's waste management hierarchy generally prefers that wastes be reused or recycled, EPA recognizes that, in the context of homeland security incidents, the appropriate waste management option depends primarily on the event itself, the type of waste needing to be managed, the quantity of waste generated, and other situation-specific factors, as well as time and cost considerations. Any chosen waste management option must protect human health and the environment.
If a treatment option is chosen as the preferred waste management approach for a particular waste, does a disposal option also need to be identified?
Waste that is treated will also require recycling or disposal in accordance with applicable regulations. Treating the waste only changes the characteristics (e.g., size, toxicity) of the waste; the waste generally will still need to be sent for recycling or disposed of. However, there may be advantages to treating the waste, such as reducing its size or toxicity. Also, some waste may need to be treated before it can be recycled or before a disposal facility will accept it. It also is important to note that waste treatment options may generate their own waste, which would need to be managed. However, the benefits of treating the waste before recycling or ultimate disposal may offset the inconvenience of having to manage this additional waste stream.
Is the information presented on this website applicable to smaller incidents as well?
The information on this website is applicable to all types of incidents, including smaller incidents. For example, a tornado involving only one locality may not rise to the level of a homeland security incident, but the waste management options for natural disaster debris are just as applicable in this situation.