Environmental compliance is more of an art than a science. How a required activity is done or documented is usually more critical than the activity itself.
It is best to be proactive with respect to environmental compliance. Don’t wait for disgruntled employees, environmental zealots, or agency inspectors to point out compliance problems.
Determine the applicability of a regulation by carefully examining all exemptions and key definitions.
Don’t assume that a term used in a regulation means the same thing that it does in ordinary language or everyday conversation. Always check the regulation for the definition.
Definitions of terms in a regulation are sometimes grouped together in one section near the beginning of the regulation but not always. Sometimes a definition will be buried in the middle of near the end of a regulation.
The same or similar term used in different regulations usually have totally different meanings. A hazardous chemical is different from a hazardous material which is different from a hazardous waste and a hazardous substance. One little word can make a big difference.
Ask for the citation in the regulations when an agency official tells you that you have to do something, and check out the citation for yourself. Some agency officials have their own agenda or want to see certain information that is not required by the regulations.
Document the reasons why a particular regulation does not apply.
Never ignore a Letter of Warning (LOW) or Notice of Violation (NOV). It is best to quickly respond in writing to the LOW or NOV. Include specific steps that have been taken and will be taken to address the issue(s).
Always negotiate with the agency whenever an NOV specifies fines.
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