An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »

Cleanups at Federal Facilities

Summary of Key Statutes That Affect Federal Facilities

Statute Description Relevance to Federal Facilities Implementing Regulations
Clean Air Act (CAA)
  • Title I requires EPA to identify "air pollutants," adopt National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), and establish technology-based New Source Performance Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP)
  • Title I also requires states to develop state implementation plans (SIP)
  • Title II requires establishment of nationally uniform emissions standards for automobiles
  • Title III authorizes citizen suits against violators and judicial review of EPA actions
  • Title IV creates a system of marketable allowances for sulphur dioxide emissions
  • Title V requires permits for all major sources of air pollutants
  • Title VI contains provisions to phase out the use of ozone-depleting chemicals, such as chlorofluorocarbons, halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform, as required by the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Federal facilities have been and will continue to be significantly affected by provisions of the CAA.
  • The NESHAP program also affects federal facilities
  • Title III activities can affect federal facilities extensively
  • Title VI requirements are particularly important because of the need for many ozone-depleting substances in weapons systems. In addition, many of these chemicals are used extensively by federal facilities as refrigerants on ships and airplanes.
Federal facilities are bound to adhere to regulations that implement the CAA. Those regulations are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) parts 50-99. Some key provisions include:
  • State-by-state implementation plans are found at 40 CFR part 52
  • Standards of performance and NESHAPs are found at 40 CFR part 60
  • Penalty assessment requirements are found at 40 CFR parts 66 and 67
  • Mobile source requirements are found at 40 CFR parts 81 through 89
Clean Water Act (CWA) The CWA, first passed in 1972 and amended in 1977 and 1978, is the most comprehensive source of federal regulatory authority to control water pollution. In relation to federal facilities, it specifically:
  • Establishes limits on effluents that prohibit discharge of pollutants
  • Requires states to adopt water quality criteria
  • Requires EPA to adopt water quality guidelines
  • Requires source performance standards based on best demonstrated control technology
  • Requires dischargers of toxic pollutants to meet limits on effluents
  • Establishes the national pollution discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit program
  • Requires permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for disposal of dredged material into navigable waters
  • Authorizes citizen suits
Many federal facilities own and operate permitted wastewater treatment systems that treat industrial and domestic sewage generated at the facilities.

Also, some stormwater runoff discharges at federal facilities are subject to permitting under NPDES.
Regulations under the CWA are found at 40 CFR part 100 through 140. Those regulations set forth instructions for the NPDES program and related wastewater treatment activities.

The guidelines for standards of performance for new sources are found at 40 CFR parts 400-699. Those guidelines prescribe minimum standards for treatment of a variety of industrial sources, such as metal finishing and explosives manufacturing operations, and hospitals.

Regulations governing dredge-and-fill operations are found at both 40 CFR and 33 CFR.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund)
  • Provides the basic legal framework for the federal "Superfund" program to clean up hazardous waste sites.
  • Title 111 of the 1986 Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) (also known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act [EPCRA]) requires all manufacturing facilities to report annually to the public information about stored toxic substances, as well as about release of such substances, into the environment. The report is known as the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI).
  • Provides framework and guidance for federal facilities to conduct installation restoration, environmental restoration, and similar programs.
  • Executive Order (EO) 12856 made the TRI reporting requirement applicable to all federal facilities. Consequently, federal facilities were required to submit their first set of TRI data to EPA on July 1, 1995.
The regulations governing Superfund are found in 40 CFR part 300. They are called the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). Although they do not set forth any standards, they do establish procedures and practices for cleaning up a contaminated site.

The regulations governing implementation of EPCRA are found at 40 CFR parts 350-399.
Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
  • Gives the EPA comprehensive authority to regulate any chemical substance whose manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.
  • Regulates asbestos and radon inside buildings.
  • Federal facilities are affected by regulations under TSCA because they address both the handling and disposal of substances regulated under TSCA plus the remediation of asbestos and radon.
  • Federal facilities handle many substances regulated under TSCA, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB).
  • Asbestos and radon problems are found in many buildings owned by federal agencies.
Regulations implementing TSCA are found at 40 CFR parts 700-799.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
  • Establishes standards and regulations applicable to generators, transporters, and owners or operators of hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (Subtitle C) and the management of solid waste (Subtitle D).
  • Contains provisions regulating underground storage tanks (UST) that store petroleum and chemical products.
Federal facilities are regulated stringently under RCRA and are subject to its corrective action authorities:
  • Almost all federal facilities generate solid waste that requires disposal
  • Many also generate hazardous waste through maintenance or manufacturing activities
  • Some also are treatment, storage, or disposal facilities.
  • Many store petroleum products in USTs
Regulations under the RCRA program, which are found at 40 CFR parts 240-299, govern waste management practices at federal facilities.
Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) The PPA makes it a national policy of the United States to reduce or eliminate the generation of waste at the source whenever feasible. The EPA is directed to undertake a multimedia program of information collection, technology transfer, and financial assistance to enable the states to implement this policy and to promote the use of source reduction techniques. Federal facilities are implementing the PPA through changes in policies and procedures that govern acquisition and procurement. The PPA is not implemented by federal regulations.
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) FIFRA provides a comprehensive framework for regulating the sale and distribution of pesticides within the United States. Under the statute, EPA register pesticides for either "general" for "restricted" use. Once a pesticide has been registered, its handling and distribution are addressed. However, once a pesticide is in or on a raw agricultural commodity, the pesticide is regulated under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Federal facilities are affected by FIFRA because pesticide application occurs at those facilities. The regulations, which are found at 40 CFR parts 152-186, govern federal facilities' use of pesticides and worker protection for their application.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) NEPA imposes environmental responsibilities on all agencies of the federal government. NEPA makes it the policy of the federal government to use all practicable means to administer federal programs in the most environmentally sound fashion. NEPA requires that decision-making processes of federal agencies take into account environmental factors. The agencies do so through the conduct of an environmental assessment (EA)or an environmental impact statement (EIS). Federal facilities are affected by NEPA every time a decision is made to expend a "significant" amount of federal dollars. Before that money can be spent, an EA or an EIS must be conducted at the facility. Thus, every time they build a road, bridge, or building, federal facilities must assess the environmental effects and make a finding of no significant impact. The regulations governing NEPA are found at 40 CFR part 1500 et. seq.
Federal Facilities Compliance Act (FFCA) The FFCA was passed in 1992 to enable the EPA and states to bring civil action against federal agencies for violations of certain actions relating to RCRA. Before the FFCA, the doctrine of sovereign immunity prevented civil actions against federal agencies. However, the FFCA states that it is admissible to initiate civil action against a federal agency. Criminal actions always have been possible, under the criminal provisions of individual statutes. Any civil action that may be brought against a federal facility falls under the authority of the FFCA. The FFCA is not implemented by federal regulations.