Hazardous and Solid Waste

7 RCRA Violations that Will Send You to Jail

Federal RCRA identifies seven criminal acts that carry a penalty of up to $50,000 per day and up to 5 years in jail. You could find yourself in prison if you knowingly:

  1. Transport hazardous waste to a nonpermitted facility.
  2. Treat, store, or dispose of waste without a permit or in violation of the permit or interim-status standards or regulations.
  3. Omit material information from, or make a false statement in an application, a label, manifest, report, permit, or interim-status standard.
  4. Generate, store, treat, or dispose of waste without complying with RCRA’s recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
  5. Transport waste without a manifest, if one is required.
  6. Export waste without the consent of the receiving country or in a manner not in conformance with an international agreement between the U.S. and the receiving country.
  7. Transport, treat, store, dispose of, or export hazardous waste in such a way that another person is placed in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. This act could lead you to a possible penalty of $250,000 or 15 years in prison for an individual or a $1 million fine for a corporation.

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According to the EPA, strict enforcement deters those who might otherwise profit from violating the law.

The Difference Between Civil and Administrative Penalties

Basically, the difference is that an administrative penalty is part of an administrative order issued by EPA or an authorized state environmental regulatory agency and a civil penalty is the result of a court action brought on by a lawsuit. Both administrative and civil penalties are specified in statute that’s applicable in the particular situation.  In general, an administrative penalty is less than a civil penalty.


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Administrative Order: A legal document signed by EPA directing an individual, business, or other entity to comply with a specific regulatory duty, take corrective action, or refrain from an activity. It describes the violations and actions to be taken, and can be enforced in court. Such orders may be issued, for example, as a result of an administrative complaint whereby the respondent is ordered to pay a penalty for violation of a statute. An administrative order can include a penalty, which is established by individual statutes.

Civil penalty: A civil penalty can result from a civil action, which is a lawsuit against a party that has violated a non-criminal statute, regulation, or administrative order. The lawsuit can involve either (1) one private party suing another private party, or (2) a private party suing or being sued by the government. Civil actions do not directly involve criminal prosecution.