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Public Participation and Citizen Action

Group of CitizensThe public plays an important role in the permitting process for both hazardous and municipal solid waste facilities. Facilities applying for a permit must involve the public in some aspects of the process. Businesses and the state or federal permitting agency also must make information available to the public. The public has opportunities to submit comments and request public hearings. Many avenues exist for people to learn about and participate in what is happening around them.

Cleaning up hazardous waste facilities, known as corrective action, is also of concern to citizens and local communities. Since spills from TSDFs can affect entire municipalities, RCRA guarantees that the public will have a role in the facility cleanup process. For example, the corrective action process gives the public access to facility inspection information, requires public notice of remediation proceedings, and allows the opportunity for public comment participation in the remedy selection process.

Public participation initiatives are also used to remedy the disproportionate effects of environmental pollution on particular groups, such as minority and low-income populations. For example, through efforts to ensure environmental justice, EPA is taking steps to incorporate public participation into decisions concerning the siting of hazardous waste facilities and the prioritization of corrective action cleanups.

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