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Hazardous Waste Violations Criminal Investigations - Violation Types and Examples

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Violations that are frequently investigated may include, but are not restricted to:

  • Improper disposal of hazardous waste

  • Exporting hazardous waste without the consent of the receiving country

  • Illegally releasing pollutants into US waterways

  • Disposing of asbestos-containing materials in a manner that violates regulations

  • Illegally importing restricted or regulated chemicals into the US

  • Interfering with a drinking water supply

  • Engaging in mail or wire fraud

  • Conspiring to commit environmental crimes

  • Laundering money related to environmental criminal activities.

Clean Air Act Scenario:

The owner of an apartment complex invites bids to remove 14,000 square feet of old ceiling tiles from the building. Three bidders inspected the premises and discovered the tiles contained hazardous asbestos fibers. They submit their bids, understanding that they must adhere to the work practice standards for asbestos removal. However, the fourth bidder proposes a cost-saving approach by removing the tiles without following the required work practice standards. The owner, enticed by the potential savings, hires the fourth bidder, resulting in the removal without adhering to the necessary work practice standards. Consequently, the owner is found guilty of a criminal violation of the Clean Air Act.


Clean Water Act Scenario:

At a metal finishing company, the plant manager instructs employees to bypass the wastewater treatment unit to avoid the expense of purchasing the necessary chemicals for its operation. As a result, the company directly discharges untreated wastewater into the sewer system, which is a clear violation of the permit issued by the municipal sewer authority. The plant manager is held accountable for a criminal violation of the Clean Water Act.


The RCRA has been violated by the owner of a cleaning solvent manufacturing company who chose to dispose of hazardous waste in an unauthorized landfill to avoid treatment costs. This act is considered a criminal offense.


Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Scenario:

To avoid the cost of paying for proper treatment of its hazardous waste, the owner of a manufacturer of cleaning solvents places several dozen 5-gallon buckets of highly flammable and caustic waste into its dumpster for disposal at a local municipal landfill that is not authorized to receive hazardous waste. The owner of the company is guilty of a criminal violation of RCRA.


Prioritize your safety above all else.

Refrain from putting yourself in harm's way. Kindly take a moment to review these safety tips and avoid attempting to investigate on your own. Instead, report any concerning observations at www.epa.gov/tips.


  • It is crucial to prioritize your safety at all times.

  • If you are unsure about the safety of an area, it is best to stay away.

  • Avoid entering confined spaces or low-lying areas, and do not disturb waste containers.

  • If you are trained to enter, ensure that you wear appropriate protective gear.

  • Do not take samples unless you are trained to do so.

  • Keep others, including children and pets, away from the scene until assistance arrives.

  • Lastly, avoid tracking toxic material into your car.

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