The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) has undertaken an initiative to address the more than 3,000 never-inspected hazardous waste small quantity generators throughout the Commonwealth. In doing so with limited resources, VADEQ first used web tools such as Geolocator through Google, business directories, the State Corporation Commission, and other sources of information to verify the accuracy of the location of the generator and whether the generator was still in business. The initiative’s capacity to do the work in office saved valuable travel time for inspectors who could avoid targeting generators with incorrect addresses or who were no longer in business. VADEQ then geocoded or plotted the locations of this generator universe, enabling inspectors to better plan inspection routes and identify the closest inspector available to a generator.
Moreover, VADEQ used additional available GIS data layers to prioritize this generator universe. Such data included proximity to impaired streams, schools, housing, water intakes, and other spatial data. The incorporation of other factors allows inspectors to focus on generators which may present a greater impact on human health and the environment. For example, adding a buffer of a one mile radius within an impaired stream provides the opportunity to ensure that a hazardous waste generator is not contributing to the stream impairment.
The inspectors were provided with focused locations and software so they could interact with the geodata. The software offers the ability to add other files, data, notes to a location, and directions at no cost to the agency. The created layers are also available to all of VADEQ though the agency’s Virginia Environmental Geographic Information System. These layers are updated quarterly to reflect progress and include new locations.
Results to Date:
The use of web tools and geolocator tools resulted in the data cleanup of more than 600 hazardous waste generators. More than 300 of these were able to be deactivated because these tools with additional in-office contact confirmed that the generator was no longer in business. VADEQ updated address information to accurately reflect the generators’ location for the additional 300. Also, this effort resulted in the identification of new hazardous waste generators which had not signaled activity for inspection.
Verification of the generator’s operating status and location has led to less drive time and less time spent on traveling to locations where there is no hazardous waste activity, allowing staff to prioritize workload. Moreover, this initiative has allowed inspectors to focus on generators and potential noncompliance that has a greater potential impact human health and the environment.
Director, Land Protection and Revitalization Division
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality