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The Environmental Integration Initiative

Chapter 5

Summary of Selected Environmental Laws and Regulations Applicable to Massachusetts Manufacturers
This chapter summarizes the laws and regulations that apply to each type of environmental emission, as well as the laws and regulations that address a manufacturer's use or release of chemicals


his section provides a brief overview of the federal and state environmental statutes and regulations that may apply to Massachusetts manufacturers. For further information about environmental programs, please consult the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) hotline contacts, which are provided at the end of this chapter; the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance, which provides confidential assistance; or other regulatory agencies, such as local sewer authorities, where appropriate.1 Legal counsel should be consulted for a formal interpretation or clarification of any statute or regulation, or for advice as to whether a particular manufacturer is subject to a given regulatory program.

As described in Volume II, Chapter 1, "A Summary of Environmental Laws and Regulations Applicable to Metal Finishing Shops in Massachusetts," a manufacturer may have several types of environmental emissions: air emissions, wastewater discharges, and hazardous waste. This chapter summarizes the laws and regulations that apply to each type of environmental emission, as well as the laws and regulations that address a manufacturer's use or release of chemicals.


The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act2 (CWA), regulates both direct and indirect industrial discharges of pollutants3 to the nation's surface waters. It also regulates stormwater runoff from certain industrial operations.

Direct Discharges

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program4 controls direct discharges into navigable waters from "point sources" such as pipes and sewers. NPDES permits contain industry-specific, technology-based and/or water quality-based limits and establish pollutant monitoring and reporting requirements. In Massachusetts, the NPDES permit program is administered by the EPA. Direct dischargers to surface water in Massachusetts may be required to obtain a second permit, from the DEP5; surface water discharge standards may vary depending on the particular body of water involved. In general, the approval procedure for a direct discharge into navigable waters in Massachusetts is costly and protracted.


1 For information about occupational safety and health laws and regulations, which fall beyond the scope of this chapter, please contact the federal Occupational Safety and Health Agency (Boston office: 617/565-9860) or the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development (617/727-3452).
2 33 U.S.C. 1251-1387 ( P.L. 92-500), as amended by P.L. 92-217.
3 Pollutants regulated under the CWA are "priority" pollutants, including various toxic pollutants; "conventional" pollutants, such as biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS), fecal coliform, oil and grease, and pH; and "non-conventional" pollutants, including any pollutant not identified as either conventional or priority.
4 CWA 402.
5 The Massachusetts surface water discharge permit regulations are set forth at 314 CMR 400 (promulgated pursuant to the Massachusetts Clean Waters Act, M.G.L. c. 21, 43).

Volume 1 - Chapter 5


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Created by the Environmental Integration Initiative
Revised: 07/25/01