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What is Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA)?

May 30, 2016

The Resource Conservation Recovery Act was a bill on environmental regulation that was passed by the United States Congress on 21 October 1976. It was introduced to address the growing problem of municipal and industrial refuse throughout the country. The bill seeks to protect people and the environment from hazards of waste disposal; save energy and resources; reduce waste, and provide environmentally safe waste management. The Act was amended in 1984 to include the minimization of waste; correct actions for the release of hazardous waste; increased enforcement authority by the EPA; stricter standards in the handling of hazardous waste; and an underground storage tank program.

Before the RCRA, refuse disposal was the responsibility of state and local governments, including hazardous waste. Landfills would accept both household and hazardous waste from generators. In most cases, disposal sites kept poor records and would change hands so often that no one would know what the land had been used for before purchase.

This would lead to situations such as the Love Canal near Niagara Falls, New York, where households in the area experienced high cancer rates and birth defects due to the land that their children’s elementary school was located. It had been the site of a waste dump before being sold to the local school district. This situation can’t occur under the RCRA as rules were formed to ensure that hazardous waste is disposed of in a safe manner so that it will not cause harm to humans or nature.


Other Sources

EPA. “EPA History: Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.” EPA. January 5, 2016. Accessed May 6, 2016.

EPA. “Summary of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.” EPA. December 29, 2015. Accessed May 6, 2016.

Stenzel, Paulette L. “Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.” Refference for Business. Accessed May 6, 2016.