DEEP is continuing to carry out its mission and provide services while keeping both the public and our workforce safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for the latest updates on DEEP's response to COVID-19. DEEP COVID-19 Response

Hazardous Waste
Inspection & Enforcement Process

Image of inspector

This fact sheet was prepared for hazardous waste generators, transporters , and treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs), to enhance their understanding of the RCRA inspection and enforcement process.  The procedures described here may be modified at any time to achieve the goals and objectives of the DEEP’s hazardous waste program.

How does DEEP Select a site for inspection?

DEEP performs over 200 hazardous waste inspections each year.  The candidates for these inspections are chosen based on a number of factors, including:

  • The length of time since the last inspection at a site.  The longer the time since the last inspection, the more likely it is that an inspection will be performed.
  • The type of site being inspected.  Generally, TSDFs are inspected most often, followed by large quantity generators, followed by small quantity generators.
  • Whether or not the site has been the subject of a prior enforcement action.  DEEP schedules inspections at such sites in order to determine if violations have been corrected or to confirm continuing compliance.
  • Inspection initiatives that focus on one particular subset of hazardous waste handlers (e.g. industry sector initiatives, geographically-based initiatives); or,
  • If a complaint is received regarding a specific site.

Inspections are typically unannounced so that we can observe normal operating conditions.   The primary purpose of each inspection is to determine compliance with Connecticut’s Hazardous Waste Management Regulations.  Other areas, such as compliance with Connecticut’s recycling laws, may also be evaluated.

What Authority does the DEEP have to Inspect my Site?

Section 22a-6 of the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) provides the inspector with authority to enter a site at reasonable times to evaluate compliance.

It is the responsibility of Department staff to conduct inspections in a thorough and professional manner. It is the responsibility of the operator of the site being inspected to provide thorough and complete answers to questions and to promptly provide any records or reports requested during and subsequent to the inspection. Inspections go more quickly if every question is given an honest, immediate answer.  However, we understand that one person may not have the answers to all of our questions. In such circumstances, “I’m not sure, I’ll find out”, earns a lot more credibility than vague, deceptive-sounding answers.

How can I prepare for an inspection?

During the inspection, the inspector will perform a walk-through of the facility to look at processes and storage areas. The inspector will ask general questions about the facility, where hazardous materials are kept and how wastes are generated.  Therefore, the company should always have a contact available on site who is familiar with or trained in hazardous waste handling and compliance.

Keep areas where hazardous materials and wastes are located clean. Not only is it easier to complete the inspection when the areas are clean and dry, but good housekeeping procedures can also prevent workplace injuries such as slips, trips and falls, and help in reducing worker compensation claims. Maintain adequate aisle space, keep labels facing outward and make sure hazardous waste labels are complete and include the accumulation start date.

Managing hazardous materials and waste is serious business. Don’t become complacent and lax in the proper, safe handling of these hazardous substances just because you may use them every day. They are called “hazardous” for a reason. There is the potential for fire, explosions, hazards from inhalation and long term health problems as a result of the mishandling of these substances.

Given the above, we suggest that you:

  • conduct your own self audits or have an environmental consultant periodically review your operations;
  • monitor areas where waste is generated, handled, or accumulated;
  • quickly follow up on problems from your last inspection or self-audit;
  • stay in compliance;
  • have records, logs, manifests, and other documentation organized and available; and
  • be familiar with your regulatory obligations and permit conditions, if any.

What Should I Expect after an Inspection is Completed?

Upon completion of the inspection, you should be offered an exit meeting, during which you are encouraged to ask questions and take notes. At this time, the DEEP inspector may specifically ask for additional information, in which case the information should be provided promptly (at that time or in a subsequent submittal, if requested).  Some information (e.g., inspection logs, training logs, contingency plans) must be maintained and kept up-to-date at all times and your failure to provide current information could constitute a violation of the hazardous waste regulations.

The inspector will identify readily apparent violations during the exit meeting. We are not required to provide notes of the inspection, but the inspection report will be sent to you within a few weeks after the inspection is completed.  Due to the need for our field staff to further review documents and notes, it will not always be possible for them to identify all violations resulting from the inspection during the exit meeting.

What Should I Do after the Inspection?

After completing the inspection, the inspector will prepare a final report which will be mailed to you.  Generally, the final report is mailed about four to six weeks after the completion of the inspection, although in some cases more time is required.

Follow-up questions or requests for additional submittals made by the DEEP inspector should be answered in a timely manner.

You are encouraged to begin correcting any observed violations (e.g., failure to label containers, conduct inspections, or perform hazardous waste determinations) as soon as possible and to document such efforts.  For site remediation or waste removal, prior contact with the DEEP Waste Engineering & Enforcement Division (WEED) is encouraged since specific approval may be necessary. Submit documentation to WEED when requested to do so.  Documentation should specifically identify the problem observed and the action taken. For example:

  • Observed Problem: The 8/17/19 inspection report noted that two drums were not labeled with the words “Hazardous Waste”.
  • Corrective Action: On 8/18/19, Hazardous Waste labels were placed on the drums (see attached photo)

If Violations Are Found During an Inspection, Can I Expect Enforcement Action?

If violations have been discovered, the DEEP utilizes its Enforcement Response Policy to classify the violations and determine the appropriate enforcement response.

In some cases, the inspector may issue a Field Notice of Violation (NOV).  This is done when there is one, or a limited number of minor violations.  If significant violations are found during the inspection, or if there are several violations, the case will typically be assigned to one of the office-based staff in the hazardous waste enforcement program, who will issue an “office” NOV.  This NOV may be a stand-alone action or may be an initial action, followed by formal enforcement.  In the event that a serious offense(s) has/have occurred, we may proceed directly to a more formal response without issuing a NOV.  For a minor violation or to clarify information concerning a possible violation, the Department may send the company a “Notice of Noncompliance” instead of an NOV.

If you receive a Field NOV, NOV or Notice of Noncompliance, you should follow the instructions provided in the action and document your efforts to comply. Pay close attention to the amount of time given to correct any violations and submit documentation of compliance before the specified deadline.   If you cannot meet the deadline or have any questions, contact either your inspector or the enforcement staff contact listed in the action, well in advance of the compliance date.

Even if you receive a Field NOV, NOV, or Notice of Noncompliance, you may be subject to further enforcement action which may include one or more of the following:

  • a unilateral administrative order requiring that the violations be corrected;
  • a consent order with or without penalty;
  • a referral to the Office of the Attorney General for injunctive relief and/or penalty assessment; and/or
  • a referral to the Chief State’s Attorney for criminal investigation.

In deciding whether or not to escalate our enforcement response, the Department will consider the following:  your past compliance history, the severity and number of the violation(s), and your willingness (or failure) to cooperate with the Department to correct the violations.

Note:  certain cases are also referred by WEED to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Region 1 for possible federal enforcement action.  EPA also routinely conducts inspections as the overseer of Connecticut’s authorized program, or as a result of referrals from the State, and is the lead for enforcing certain observed violations of federal regulations that Connecticut had not adopted.

How May I Get More Information about the Inspection and Enforcement Process?

Your primary contact for questions concerning the hazardous waste program, our enforcement process, or any regulatory concerns, is the case lead for the enforcement action (e.g., the staff contact listed in the NOV).  You may also contact our toll free Compliance (“COMPASS”) Assistance hotline at 1-888-424-4193. For more information on our COMPASS program, see the Hazardous Waste Compliance Assistance Web Page.

For more information about hazardous waste inspections, see the Hazardous Waste Inspection Forms Web Page.  Copies of the inspection report forms used for different types of hazardous waste handlers are available through this page.

For additional information on the hazardous waste program’s enforcement process, see the following documents, which are all available on the DEEP Enforcement Policies Web Page.

Is there published information about DEEP enforcement actions?

DEEP publishes enforcement case summaries for administrative consent orders, final unilateral orders and final dispositions of civil cases that have been filed through the Office of the Attorney General.  The summaries provide a brief description of violations or alleged violations and a summary of compliance steps included in the enforcement action.  If the action includes payment of civil penalties and/or the completion of one or more SEPs, that information is also provided.

EPA also publishes certain inspection and enforcement summary data on its EnviroFacts Web Site. [Exit DEEP Website.]

Content Last Updated February 3, 2020