An EPA Inspector General (IG ) report released September 26, 2011, recommends that the agency develop more detailed guidance documents and management policies to prepare for managing waste from future big oil spills. According to the report, EPA should update a 2002 guidance document on RCR A exemptions for oil exploration and production.

The existing exemptions became an issue during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill when EPA recommended that any waste failing a toxicity test should be treated as hazardous. Several responders, including those in EPA and the Coast Guard, questioned whether EPA had the authority to require exempt oil exploration and production waste to be treated as hazardous waste under RCR A. The report recommends that EPA update the 2002 guidance to “include circumstances under which exploration and production waste could be managed or disposed of differently.” According to the report, EPA disagreed with some of the IG ’s recommendations, responding that “the existing system on managing spill response worked well during the Deepwater Horizon Spill.”