Hazardous waste permitting bill to the Governor

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Sept. 4, 2014 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

In the final hours of the legislature last Friday, the Senate passed SB 812 (Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles), the incoming President pro Tempore of the Senate. This bill deals with hazardous waste permitting and re-permitting for hazardous waste storage and disposal facilities.

SB 812 had been amended six times since its introduction in 2013. The final version that went to the Governor still contains a provision which would automatically deny a permit application if CalEPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) does not act on the permit within 36 months of the expiration of the facility’s permit. Many facilities now operate for a period of time with an interim permit until DTSC makes a decision. DTSC currently averages approximately 1.5 years to deem a permit application complete and another 4.3 years to review its merits. This could leave companies without a valid permit through no fault of their own. There are numerous factors that can significantly affect timely issuance of a permit, including the level of public input received, DTSC workload, subject experts, response time, and staffing levels.

Existing law requires DTSC to pursue available remedies, including the issuance of an order for corrective action, before using legal remedies, this bill would repeal those provisions and allow DTSC to request that the operator submit a written cost estimate within 60 days to cover corrective action and either fund the corrective action cost within 90 days of approval or enter into a schedule of compliance for assurances of financial responsibility.

SB 812 still also requires DTSC to consider a community’s scoring using the new CalEnviroScreen tool for permit applications or renewals. CalEnviroScreen was developed to be used for grants and (as we were told on numerous occasions) not for permitting or enforcement.

In addition, this bill creates a Citizen Oversight Committee to oversee the workings of DTSC and investigate any complaint alleging misconduct.

This bill was spurred by ongoing emission problems at Exide’s secondary lead smelting plant in Vernon in Senator De Leon’s district. The plant recovers lead from recycled automotive batteries.  CMTA doesn’t believe one “bad actor” (as noted in the committee analyses) should be the basis for a law for all companies.

The Department of Finance put a $3.35 million price tag on the implementation of this bill.

Both industry and DTSC oppose SB 812 and will be requesting a veto from Governor Brown. He has 30 days to act on the bill.

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