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Hazardous Materials Division FAQs

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Q1: How do I dispose of paint and oil waste from my business?
Q2: When is a Unified Program Facility Permit (UPFP) required for (a) hazardous materials, (b) hazardous waste, (c) universal waste, (d) underground storage tanks, and/or (e) medical waste?
Q3: Is an installation permit required by the Department of Environmental Health for above ground tanks?
Q4: Why do I need a Unified Program Facility Permit?
Q5: Why doesn't the inspector make appointments for my routine inspections?
Q6: How can I get rid of my household waste from my home?
Q7: Where may I make a complaint about hazardous or medical waste management at a business or in my neighborhood?
Q8: What are the laws and regulations that provide details for the management of: (a) hazardous waste, (b) hazardous materials, (c) aboveground tanks, (d) underground storage tanks, (e) medical waste?
Q9: How do I submit a set of plans for the installation, repair, upgrade, or removal of an underground storage tank for plan check?
Q10: How can I be exposed to mercury in my home?
Q11: What is a hazardous waste?
Q12: When do I need prepare a HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INVENTORY for hazardous wastes?
Q13: How do I properly dispose of treated wood waste?

Q1: How do I dispose of paint and oil waste from my business?

You must dispose of your hazardous waste by using a registered hazardous waste hauler, or in some cases, you may be able to self-haul small quantities of hazardous waste to a permitted collection site. For information on self-hauling your business waste call 1-800-714-1195. To obtain a complete listing of registered hazardous waste haulers visit the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) website. 

To dispose of your waste, you must obtain an EPA identification number (hazardous waste tracking number). For more information and for an application form please call the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) at (916) 327-1781 or (800) 618-6942 or visit the  Department of Toxic Substances Control website.

Q2: When is a Unified Program Facility Permit (UPFP) required for (a) hazardous materials, (b) hazardous waste, (c) universal waste, (d) underground storage tanks, and/or (e) medical waste?

A business needs a Unified Program Facility Permit if:

(a) the business handles or stores hazardous material in quantities equal to or greater than 55 gallons, 500 pounds, 200 cubic feet of a compressed gas, or stores in any amount toxic gases with a threshold limit value (TLV) of 10 parts per million;

(b) the business generates hazardous waste in any amount;

(c) the business is a large quantity handler of universal waste (handles 5,000 kg or more at one time);

(d) the business stores hazardous substances in underground storage tanks;

(e) the business generates any amount of medical waste. Click here for a Unified Program Facility Permit application.

Q3: Is an installation permit required by the Department of Environmental Health for above ground tanks?

Although an installation permit is not required from the Department of Environmental Health for above ground storage tanks storing hazardous materials, a Unified Program Facility Permit is required for businesses storing hazardous materials in quantities greater than or equal to 55 gallons of liquid (500 pounds of solid or 200 c.f. of compressed gas at STP). Also, if you store 1,320 gallons or more of petroleum in above ground tanks, you must comply with the Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act including implementing a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure plan. Additionally, you should contact your local Fire Department for their installation requirements. 

For above ground tanks storing certain hazardous wastes, a California registered Professional Engineer must certify the tank system before using the tank. There are exemptions from this Profession Engineer's Certification for some more common and less hazardous wastes. For additional requirements regarding hazardous waste storage tanks, contact the Hazardous Materials Duty Specialist at (858) 505-6880. For a brochure explaining the requirements of above ground hazardous waste tanks click here

Q4: Why do I need a Unified Program Facility Permit?

The California State Health & Safety Code, Division 20 establishes minimum statewide standards for the management of hazardous materials; hazardous waste, medical waste and hazardous substances in underground storage tanks.

The County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health has been designated by the State as the Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) in San Diego County to administer environmental programs. If a business is subject to the requirements of any of the requirements of CUPA programs, or the medical waste program, then the business is required to obtain a Unified Program Facility Permit.

Q5: Why doesn't the inspector make appointments for my routine inspections?

Inspections are conducted on an unannounced basis as allowed by State law. Unannounced inspections provide observations of day-to-day procedures and are considered a valid and unrehearsed reflection of the businesses compliance status. 

Q6: How can I get rid of my household waste from my home?

Household hazardous waste should NEVER be thrown into the trash or poured down the sink or storm drains. Improper disposal may injure refuse workers, pollute ground water, waterways, and our oceans, potentially destroying marine life. Improper disposal of hazardous waste is illegal. Information on proper disposal of household hazardous waste can be found here. 

Q7: Where may I make a complaint about hazardous or medical waste management at a business or in my neighborhood?

Please call the County of San Diego hazardous materials complaint desk at (858) 505-6657.

Q8: What are the laws and regulations that provide details for the management of: (a) hazardous waste, (b) hazardous materials, (c) aboveground tanks, (d) underground storage tanks, (e) medical waste?

(a) Hazardous Waste Control Act. State of California Health and Safety Code, Division 20, Chapter 6.5, and the California Code of Regulations Title 22.

(b) Hazardous Materials Release Response Plans and Inventory. State of California Health and Safety Code, Division 20, Chapter 6.95, and the California Code of Regulations Title 19.

(c) Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act. California Health and Safety Code, Division 20, Chapter 6.67.

(d) Underground Storage of Hazardous Substances. State of California Health and Safety Code, Division 20, Chapter 6.7, and the California Code of Regulations Title 23.

(e) Medical Waste Management Act. State of California Health & Safety Code, Division 104, Part 14, Chapters 1 through 11.

Q9: How do I submit a set of plans for the installation, repair, upgrade, or removal of an underground storage tank for plan check?

Obtain a permit application from the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) for the work to be done.  This can be accomplished by either coming into the office or by calling (858) 505-6785.  There are different permit applications for the installation, repair, upgrade, or removal.

Submit the original and two copies of the completed permit application package, including site drawings, required fees, copies of any permits required by other regulatory agencies, and any other documentation listed in the permit application, to DEH.  This can be accomplished either in person or by mail.  Allow 10 working days for review of your application.

Click here for detailed information about submittal of applications.

Once the permit application has been approved or disapproved, DEH staff will notify the contractor.

Q10: How can I be exposed to mercury in my home?

A broken thermometer is the most common household exposure to mercury. Additional sources of mercury in the home can come from mercury light switches, thermostats, barometers, and old blood pressure machines. For more information about mercury click here.

Q11: What is a hazardous waste?

Hazardous Waste is any material or substance that is discarded, relinquished, disposed or burned, or for which there is no intended use or reuse,
AND
The material or substance causes or significantly contributes to an increase in mortality or illness;
OR
The material or substance poses a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment.
These materials or substances may include: spent solvents and paints (oil and latex), used oil, used oil filters, used acids and corrosives, unwanted or expired products (pesticides, aerosol cans, cleaners, etc.). If the original material or substance is labeled danger, warning, toxic, caution, poison, flammable, corrosive or reactive, the waste is very likely to be hazardous.

For more information on hazardous waste classification, please contact the Hazardous Materials Duty Desk at (858) 505-6880 or the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Q12: When do I need prepare a HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INVENTORY for hazardous wastes?

If you handle, store or generate hazardous materials or hazardous wastes in quantities greater than or equal to: 

  • 500 pounds of  solid
  • 55 gallons of  liquid
  • 200 cubic feet of  compressed gas (at standard temperature and pressure)

you are required to obtain a Unified Program Facility Permit.  All Unified Program regulated businesses are required by law (Assembly Bill 2286) to submit business information electronically through the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS). Many of the Unified Program forms are no longer available on our website and instead must be completed online in CERS. Please refer to our CERS Information webpage for additional information.

Q13: How do I properly dispose of treated wood waste?

Treated Wood Waste (TWW) contains hazardous chemicals that pose a risk to human health and the environment. Arsenic, chromium, copper, and pentachlorophenol are among the chemicals added to preserve the wood. These chemicals are known to be toxic or carcinogenic.

Because TWW contains hazardous chemicals, at elevated levels, it is subject to California’s Hazardous Waste Control Law. Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has developed alternative management standards (AMS) for TWW (California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 22, Division 4.5, Chapter 34) that are based upon full hazardous waste requirements but are adjusted for the unique circumstances associated with TWW.

Businesses that generate, handle, or accumulate more than 1,000 pound in 30 days engaged in activities expected to routinely generate or handle TWW, such as, construction/demolition contractors, and business and homeowners generating large quantities (i.e., accumulating more than 1,000 pounds in 30 days) must meet certain requirements. A summary of those requirements and links to more information can be found on this fact sheet.