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What to Expect in a Dangerous Waste Compliance Inspection
Why we inspect facilities
Dangerous waste compliance inspectors visit facilities to make sure that generators are handling, storing, and disposing of dangerous waste according to the regulations. They also help identify problems that might cause pollution. Preventing pollution in the first place is much easier and cheaper than trying to clean it up afterwards. Ecology inspectors have legal authority to inspect a facility during normal business hours and may show up unannounced. An inspection usually takes two to three hours.
How we pick a facility to inspect
Facilities that generate dangerous waste are subject to inspection by the Department of Ecology's dangerous waste inspectors. Inspectors choose facilities based on generator status and size of the facility, history of problems or unexplained changes in generator status, complaints, and/or referrals from other agencies.
We inspect your records
The inspector first asks to see the site contact listed on the Site ID form or Dangerous Waste Annual Report. Inspectors check records relating to dangerous-waste management, such as transport manifests, storage logs and inspections, safety equipment inspections, and employee training.
We inspect your facility
Inspectors look at production areas, 90- or 180-day accumulation areas, satellite accumulation areas, and “bone yards” or other storage areas. The inspector will take pictures of any violations found, and of examples of proper dangerous waste management. Some violations can be resolved during the inspection.
We hold an exit conference and provide a compliance certificate for your follow-up
The inspector holds an exit conference with the facility representative. Afterwards, the inspector writes up an inspection report and compliance certificate and mails them to the facility. The compliance certificate has:
The facility representative completes the compliance certificate, showing what was done to correct any violations, and returns it to Ecology.
Will we impose a penalty?
Normally, Ecology does not fine facilities if problems are fixed by the deadline. Ecology offers technical assistance to help facilities resolve problems. However, if a facility does not correct problems, formal enforcement may be necessary. This is normally an administrative order to comply with a monetary penalty based on the violations. Each violation can result in a penalty of up to $10,000 per day.
Penalties are likely if the generator refuses to get into compliance, future inspections show the same problems recurring, or violations damage human health or the environment.
Guide for Dangerous Waste Generators in Washington State: Quick Reference Guide shows the most important dangerous waste management requirements for generators in a simple, table format.
Dangerous Waste Basics offers videos and resources to help you safely manage your waste.
Dangerous Waste Regulation Checklist (aka "Inspection Checklist")
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