Mike Rogge

Tougher Hazardous Waste Handling Laws Proposed

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, May 1, 2015 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

SB 654, Hazardous Waste Facility Permitting, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and SB 673, Hazardous Waste, by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would both have a deleterious effect on the handling and disposal of hazardous waste in California.

SB 654 revises the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) permitting process requiring that the owner or operator of a facility submit complete Part A and Part B applications for a permit renewal at least two years prior to the expiration date of the permit. The bill would require the department to issue a final permit decision for an application for permit renewal within 36 months of the expiration of the facility’s permit. The bill would provide that a facility that has not been issued a final permit within 36 months following the expiration of the permit’s fixed term would be in violation of the hazardous waste control law.

This bill mirrors SB 812 from 2014 which was eventually vetoed by the Governor with the exception that last year’s bill said that if DTSC did not act the permit would be denied.  In SB 654, the operator of a hazardous waste facility would be in violation of the law if DTSC does not act. It does not take into consideration the magnitude, the complexity and the changing conditions of these operations. The operator of the facility would be punished for DTSC’s inaction.

SB 673 establishes specific guidelines to be followed for hazardous waste treatment, storage or transport facilities in proximity to an environmental justice area. It uses CalEnviroScreen as a tool to identify such negatively impacted areas. CalEnviroScreen was never touted as a tool for permitting or enforcement but was intended to identify areas in need of grant funding. The provisions of the bill will make it much more difficult to permit or re-permit a facility.

Both bills are a direct result of environmental problems that occurred at the Exide battery plant in Vernon and DTSC’s inability to deal with the problem in a timely fashion. Bills like this will result in California’s hazardous waste being shipped to other states or other countries where waste laws are significantly less stringent. Manufacturers should not be punished for the inaction of an ineffective agency and the actions of one bad actor.

Both bills moved through Senate policy committees on a party line vote and have now been sent to the Senate Appropriations. CMTA’s Environmental Quality Committee has taken an Oppose position on both bills.

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