Why You Should Correct Minor Violations During CUPA Inspections

Posted on 3/13/2017 by Roger Marks

This post is intended to help EHS professionals in California manage compliance with unique California EPA, DTSC, and CUPA requirements for hazardous waste management.
Did you know that during a CUPA hazardous waste inspection, if you correct a minor violation in the presence of the inspector, the inspector is forbidden by law from issuing you a citation for that violation? It’s true!  
The California Health and Safety Code (HSC) section 25187.8(d) states in no uncertain terms “A notice to comply shall not be issued for any minor violation which is corrected immediately in the presence of the inspector.”
Now let’s look at how California law defines a “minor” hazardous waste violation. In the Health and Safety Code section 25117.6, “minor violation” is defined as follows:
“Minor violation” means a deviation from the requirements of this chapter, or any regulation, standard , requirement, or permit or interim status document condition adopted pursuant to this chapter, that is not a Class I violation or Class II.
This definition isn’t much help, so we must go a little further into the regulations to find what we need. Let’s take a look at the definition of Class I violation, or “major” violation, defined at 22 CCR 66260.10.

What is a Class I Violation under Title 22 (22 CCR)?

22 CCR 66260.10 defines “Class I Violation” as “a deviation from the requirements… that represents a significant threat to human health or safety or the environment, because of:
  1. The volume of the waste;
  2. The relative hazard of the waste;
  3. The proximity of the population at risk; or
  4. Is significant enough that it could result in the failure to:
  • Assure that hazardous wastes are destined for and delivered to an authorized hazardous waste facility
  • Prevent releases of hazardous waste or constituents to the environment during the active or post colure period of facility operations
  • Assure early detection of such releases;
  • Assure adequate financial resources in the case of releases or to pay for facility closure; or
  • Perform emergency clean-up operation or other corrective action for releases. “

Lastly, any Class II violation that is a repeat or “chronic” violation, or is committed by a “recalcitrant violator” is also considered a Class I violation per 22 CCR 66260.10.

What is a Class II Violation Under Title 22?

A Class II violation is a violation that is not minor, but also does not meet the Class I violation criteria above.

For hazardous waste generators, Class II violations can include things like failure to maintain adequate documentation of employee training, failure to obtain an EPA ID number, or failure to make an accurate hazardous waste determination.

Correctable Minor Violations

California hazardous waste labelNow that we know which violations are filed under Class I and Class II, we can address the minor violations you can fix in the inspector’s presence to avoid a notice-to-comply.  It is important to note that CUPA inspectors do have leeway to issue corrective action in cases where the inspector determines the violation or combination of violations, minor or not, pose a great enough risk to human health or the environment.
During a CUPA hazardous waste inspection, you and your CUPA discover a container of non-liquid waste with an unsecured lid. You know that hazardous waste containers must be kept closed unless you’re adding or removing waste, and so you close and secure the lid in the presence of the inspector. While the inspector may make a note of your immediate compliance, a notice-to-comply will not be issued.
Perhaps an employee forgot to mark the accumulation start date on a hazardous waste drum in your storage area?  Make sure you have a sharpie with you on your next CUPA inspection! Provided you know the accumulation start date for a given container, you can correct the hazardous waste label in the presence of the inspector and avoid a notice to comply.
 For a complete list of CUPA Class I, Class II, and minor violations, check out this CUPA Inspection Guide.

Title 22 Hazardous Waste Training for California Generators

If you manage hazardous waste in California, you must know the unique, stringent Title 22 requirements that apply to your site. Knowing the Federal rules is not enough—California’s hazardous waste regulations are more complex and stricter than the US EPA RCRA standards.  At the Hazardous Waste in California Workshop, learn the latest rules, discover exceptions and reliefs you can use, and be confident you know what it takes to keep your site safe and in compliance.

San Diego – March 27—28 
Ontario – March 30—31 
San Jose – April 3—4
Sacramento – April 6—7 

Can’t make the workshop this year? The same expert training is now available in an interactive online course format. Packed with exercises to keep you engaged, this online course is an effective, convenient way to meet DTSC’s annual training requirement for hazardous waste personnel.  

New Title 22 Refresher Training Now Available!

Designed for experienced EHS professionals in California, the California Hazardous Waste Management Refresher online course provides an annual review of critical hazardous waste management rules for generators in the Golden State. 

Tags: DTSC, hazardous wastes, state rules

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