Mike Rogge

DTSC Independent Review Panel initial report released

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, Feb. 5, 2016 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

In June of 2015, Senate Bill 83, a budget trailer bill, established the Independent Review Panel (IRP) within the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The IRP is comprised of three members tasked with reviewing and making recommendations regarding improvements to DTSC’s permitting, enforcement, public outreach, and fiscal management. The IRP is also tasked with making recommendations for improving DTSC programs. The statute required the IRP to report to the Governor and the Legislature, 90 days after the IRP was initially appointed and every 90 days thereafter. Last week, the IRP issued its first report consisting of 16 pages.

From a budget standpoint, the IRP recommended that the Legislature support the Governor’s budget proposal for DTSC and increase the Site Remediation Account funding to address the projected shortfall for orphan site cleanup and transition of federal sites to State operations and maintenance oversight. The panel also recommended authority and funding be provided to DTSC to maintain the 14 limited-term cost recovery staff positions through 2018, or make them permanent, as well as strengthen the role of the Assistant Director for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs by providing her with funding for more staff and resources.

On permitting, the IRP recommended that as part of the Hazardous Waste Facility Permits procedure, adequate financial assurances be set aside for corrective action for existing hazardous waste releases at the site, not only for post-closure equipment decommissioning. They also suggested that the Legislature “consider” creating a Permit Appeals Board to hear and decide on all Hazardous Waste Facility Permits that DTSC does not process within three years of expiration. The panel further suggested that the Legislature weigh whether or not establishing of such a Permit Appeals Board would increase transparency and reduce backlogs. The IRP also recommended that funds be granted to allow public participation before a draft Hazardous Waste Facility Permit is prepared.

In addition to the above, the IRP required DTSC to submit numerous reports, workplans, finalized policies and data by specific dates on over 20 topics. 

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