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NASA Pays $50,660 Penalty to Settle Alleged Violations of the Clean Air Act and RCRA

NASA Pays $50,660 Penalty to Settle Alleged Violations of the Clean Air Act and RCRA

The Bullet:

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has agreed to pay a $50,660 penalty to settle alleged violations of federal environmental regulations of the USEPA at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Island, VA.


United State Environmental Protection Agency – Region 3

Contact: Roy Seneca, seneca.roy@epa.gov 215-814-5567


EPA cited NASA for violations of the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

As part of the settlement, NASA has neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but has certified its compliance with applicable RCRA and Clean Air Act requirements


The alleged violations occurred at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Island, VA.


Published by EPA on November 10, 2015.

No indication in the article of when the alleged violations took place or when enforcement actions began.


Violations of RCRA hazardous waste regulations cited by EPA include:

  • Requirements for labeling and dating hazardous waste containers used for waste lead solder and alcohol rags.  Hazardous waste containers must be marked with the words “Hazardous Waste” and the date of initial accumulation.
  • Inadequate packaging and labeling of universal wastes (e.g., discarded lamps that may contain mercury or other hazardous substances).  Read my article about universal waste.

NASA also allegedly did not comply with a Clean Air Act permit requirement to obtain a certification from its fuel supplier on the sulfur content and compliance with industry standards for fuel oil used at the facility.


The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) is authorized by the USEPA to administer the hazardous waste program under RCRA in Virginia.  However, in this situation the regulations were enforced by the USEPA and not VDEQ.  Whichever Agency pursued the enforcement and whatever regulations – state or Federal – they enforced, what cannot be missed here is that a unit of the Federal government – and NASA, no less! – is subject to the same regulations, and the same penalties, as a private business.Logo for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality


The take-away from this whole matter is that a government agency – state or Federal – is subject to the regulations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act enforced by the USEPA or a state with an authorized hazardous waste program.

Read this article I wrote on the USEPA and USDOT definition of a “Person” or refer to the definition of a person in the Federal USEPA regulations at 40 CFR 260.10:

Person means an individual, trust, firm, joint stock company, Federal Agency, corporation (including a government corporation), partnership, association, State, municipality, commission, political subdivision of a State, or any interstate body.

Contact me with any questions you may have about the generation, identification, management, and disposal of hazardous waste

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