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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Federal Solar Waste & Hazardous Material Assessment(18-FD)

All projects must comply with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). CERCLA regulates the release of hazardous substances. The CWA has special requirements for certain aboveground storage tanks. Additionally, certain project sites that were previously contaminated by hazardous substances may be eligible for grants under the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (Brownsfield Act).


CERCLA Process

CERCLA compels the cleanup of hazardous waste and aims to hold the responsible party liable for cleanup costs. For any project that releases or possibly released a hazardous substance, the developer must notify the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and abide by the CERCLA process and procedures. For any projects that routinely generate, store, or dispose of hazardous substances, the developer should obtain a permit from the state hazardous waste management program.


Aboveground Storage Tank

For projects that utilize aboveground storage tanks, the EPA administers a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) program pursuant to Title 40 CFR 112 Oil Pollution Prevention as part of the Clean Water Act. Aboveground storage tanks subject to the SPCC requirement include:

“Non-transportation related onshore and offshore facilities drilling, producing, gathering, storing, processing, refining, transferring, distributing, using, or consuming oil or oil productions with oil in above ground storage tanks which could discharge in quantities that may be harmful to navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines.” 40 CFR 112.1

If the project does not utilize aboveground storage tanks within the above definition, a SPCC is not required.


Brownfield Grants

The Brownfields Act seeks to assess, safely clean up, redevelop and reuse brownfield sites. “Brownfields” are defined by the Brownfields Act as “…real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presences or potential presence of a hazardous substances, pollutant, or contaminant.” 42 USC 9601(39).

For projects on qualifying “Brownfield” sites, developers may be able to secure a brownfield grant that can help defray the costs of cleaning up land in preparation for the project. The grants can be useful due to the fact that the “Brownfield” land was likely less expensive to access than comparable non-brownfield land.

More Information

Determine Which Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

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