Enforcement and Inspection

What Agency Inspectors Look For

The Clean Air Act

EPA or a designated state agency must, at reasonable times, be provided with access to and be allowed to copy any records and inspect any monitoring equipment or pollution-control method. Any information obtained during an EPA inspection is available to the public, except if it can be shown that such information would divulge trade secrets.

The Clean Water Act

EPA or an applicable state regulatory program may at reasonable times have access to and copy any records, inspect any monitoring equipment or method required, and sample any effluents that an owner or operator is required to sample under the conditions of a permit or regulations.

The Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations

EPA inspectors may ask to review a facility’s Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan and Facility Response Plan (SPCC Plan), and conduct a walk-through inspection of the facility to ensure that required measures have been implemented. EPA inspectors may also interview facility personnel about spill prevention plans and their role in plan implementation.

Keep in mind SPCC inspections may be announced or unannounced and EPA has really been after regulated facilities recently for inadequate SPCC plans. Even if you haven’t had a spill, make sure your plan is in good shape and are prepared for an SPCC inspection.

Prepare your facility to deal with conducting self-inspections, preparing and handling visits from agency inspectors, responding to violation notices, and more with Inspection Requirements for EHS Managers. Get the new report.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act

EPA or any state agency designated by EPA is authorized to enter at reasonable times any establishment or other place where pesticides or devices are held for distribution or sale. The inspection may include obtaining samples of any pesticides or devices packaged, labeled, and released for shipment, and samples of any containers or labeling for such pesticides or devices, or any place where any pesticide is being held.


EPA may inspect and obtain waste samples from any containers or labeling of the wastes at any establishment that generates, stores, treats, transports, disposes of, or otherwise handles or has handled hazardous wastes. Following a request by EPA, the owner or operator must furnish information relating to the wastes and allow EPA or a designated state representative to have access to and copy all records relating to the wastes. Access must be provided at all reasonable times.

The Safe Drinking Water Act

EPA is authorized to enter any facility or other property subject to a national primary drinking water regulation to determine compliance with drinking water regulations or underground injection control regulations. All inspectors are required to present appropriate credentials and written notice to a supplier of water before conducting the inspection.

Inspectors are authorized to inspect records, files, papers, processes, controls, and facilities, and to test any feature of the public water supply system.

Properly preparing for a regulatory agency visit and conducting self-inspections are crucial to avoiding enforcement actions. Get ready with the all new report, Inspection Requirements for EHS Managers. Get it now.


EPA may inspect any facility in which hazardous materials, mixtures, or products that are subject to regulation are manufactured, processed, stored, or held before or after their distribution in commerce. In addition, any conveyance being used to transport chemicals, mixtures, or products may also be inspected.

But wait there’s more! Most states also have environmental laws similar to the federal laws that authorize inspections for a variety of pollution-control reasons. Be sure you are familiar with the federal and state laws that apply to your operations.

See tomorrow’s Advisor for tips on dealing with EPA inspectors.