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Frequently Asked Questions

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Published on April 27, 2017. Last modified on May 22, 2019

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FAQs about the Hazardous Materials Management Service

General Information

A. Environmental Health’s Central Office is in Rm 42 of the Health Department building in Salinas at 1270 Natividad Road, near the corner of Laurel Drive. The Central Office has inspectors that cover North West Monterey County from the Peninsula inland to Chular. The King City Branch Office is located at 620 Broadway, Ste N, in King City. This office has inspectors that cover from Chular to the southern borders of the county. For administrative needs only, the Monterey Branch Office is located at 1200 Aguajito Road in Monterey across the courtyard from the Monterey County Courthouse. Regular office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. We are closed for National Holidays, including the Friday after Thanksgiving and the weekday before December 25th. For directions via Google Map, click here.

A. Complaints may be made by phone, US mail, in person or online here. Mail or phone calls should be directed to:
Monterey County Health Department / Environmental Health / Hazardous Materials Management Service.

1270 Natividad Road, Rm 42
Salinas, CA 93906
Phone 831-755-4508
or 1200 Aguajito Road, Rm 103
Monterey, CA 93940
Phone 831-647-7654
or 620 Broadway, Ste N
King City, CA 93930
Phone 831-385-0573

Please be prepared to give us the specific nature of the complaint, where it occurred (name and address of a business), when it occurred, and who was involved. Complaints should not be made anonymously — your name and phone number are useful in case additional information is needed to properly investigate the complaint and to provide you with a response. However, all complaints are handled in strict confidence for the protection of the complainant.

Permits & Inspections

A. You will need a Hazardous Materials permit if your business has or exceeds the threshold quantity of a hazardous material for 30 days or more. The threshold quantities are 55 gallons of a liquid, 200 cubic feet of a gas or 500 pounds of a solid. Unlike the Hazardous Materials permit, you will need a Hazardous Waste permit if your business generates any amount of hazardous waste.

A. An application and fee must be submitted to the Environmental Health Bureau (EHB) office before opening. Whether you are opening a new facility or have taken ownership of an existing one, you must register and submit information to us using the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS). Click HERE to link to our CERS help page. Once your submittal is complete, contact EHB to schedule an opening inspection with an inspector. Please note: these are the basic steps to getting your permit to operate. If your business stores large quantities of petroleum above or below ground, there are additional requirements. Similarly, if your business uses an acutely hazardous material there are also additional requirements. Explore our website or contact the EHB for more information.

A. The inspector has many things to do when conducting an inspection. Primarily, he or she inspects the facility to determine if it complies with Federal, State and Local regulations. Sometimes an inspection is confined to a specific problem resulting from a complaint. Other times the inspection may be very comprehensive. All inspections are conducted with the intent to observe conditions which may contribute to exposure of a hazardous material or waste to the public or employees. All problems noted during the inspection are brought to the attention of the management and violations are required to be corrected.
The facility does not usually know when a routine inspection or complaint investigation will be conducted. Follow-up and permit inspections may be scheduled in advance.

A. Environmental Health Specialists and other employees of Environmental Health are well trained and motivated to respond professionally to public health issues by enforcing State and local laws.

However, if you disagree with a decision made by an Environmental Health employee, please ask the employee for a more detailed explanation of the reasons for making the decision. This is also your opportunity to provide the employee with information that may not have been considered at the time the decision was made. Frequently such a conversation results in a mutual understanding of the issues involved and any subsequent actions that may be necessary.

If you continue to disagree with the decision, it is always appropriate to talk to the employee’s immediate supervisor. All Environmental Health employees are instructed to give you the name and phone number of their immediate supervisor upon request. You may wish to speak to the supervisor by phone, or you may request an appointment with the supervisor to assure that all relevant facts that will result in the protection of public health and safety are being considered in the decision making process.

Further recourse can be sought by appealing to either of the two Environmental Health Assistant Directors and/or the Director of Environmental Health. All Environmental Health employees will provide you with the name and phone number of the Assistant Directors and the Director upon request.

Hazardous Materials Program

A. No, not at this time. While you will need to contact the Environmental Health Bureau for a Food Handling permit, you will not need a Hazardous Materials Management permit and do not need to register or submit in CERS.

A. Many common materials that many business handle have well known properties that make them hazardous. For example, gas, diesel and paint thinner are flammable. Pesticides are toxic. The California Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, Chapter 3.2, Subchapter1, Article 5, Section 339 contains an extensive list of hazardous materials. It is often easier, however, to simply check your material’s properties using it’s SDS sheet. If it is corrosive, toxic or flammable it is probably a hazardous material. Also, if the material has special handling requirements that may make it a risk to fire fighters and emergency responders it is probably hazardous. If you are still in doubt, contact the Hazardous Materials Management Service to discuss. But remember, even if your business handles a hazardous material, you do not need a Hazardous Material Permit unless you store those materials above the threshold quantities. See “How do I know if I need a permit for my facility” for information about threshold quantities.

Hazardous Waste Program

A. Like a hazardous material, a hazardous waste is any waste that exhibits a hazardous characteristic such as flammability, toxicity, reactivity or corrosivity. For example, used motor oil is a hazardous waste because during use it collects heavy metals which are toxic. Spent paint thinner is hazardous because it is flammable. The inspectors here at the Hazardous Materials Management Service have extensive experience with hazardous wastes and can help guide you to making that determination.

A. Yes. If your business is classified as a small quantity hazardous waste generator you only need to report one time in CERS. Annual reporting is not required. Small quantity generators are those that generate less than 100 kilograms waste in a month. As a reference, 100 kg is equal to about half of a 55 gallon drum.

If you generate more than 100 kg in a 30-day period, generate an acutely hazardous waste or treat hazardous waste you must do a full submittal in CERS annually.
NOTE: Monterey County CUPAs deadline for submitting is December 31.

A. There are two locations within Monterey County where residence and businesses can dispose of hazardous waste (Businesses must call ahead to schedule appointments). In Salinas, wastes can be taken to the Sun Street Household Hazardous Waste Facility which is collocated with the Sun Street Transfer Station at 139 Sun Street in Salinas. Peninsula residence can drop off at Monterey Regional Waste Management at 14201 Del Monte Blvd in Marina.
NOTE TO BUSINESSES: Only small quantity hazardous waste generators can self-haul hazardous waste. Small quantity generators generate less than 100 kg (half a drum) of hazardous waste per month.

A. The answer is yes if two conditions are met. First, the can must not have held an acutely hazardous material listed on the RCRA P List at 40 CFR 261.33(e). Second, the can must be “RCRA Empty” meaning it must not contain more than 3% of its original content and the pressure in it must equal atmospheric pressure. Basically, the can must be empty. Furthermore, the can must then be punctured. There are many commercially available puncturing systems but whatever system you decide on extreme caution must be taken.

A. Yes but they must be drained of all “free flowing” oil. A dripping filter is not considered empty and cannot be recycled. If there is some sort of obstruction preventing the oil from draining, the obstruction must be removed or a hole drilled in the filter that will allow it to drain. Once drained, the typical metal car type oil filters cannot be stored in the same drum as paper only (nonmetal) oil filters or fuel filters.

A. Yes, and it’s free! Used motor oil can be taken to many retail automotive parts stores sponsored by Cal Recycle. To find a Certified Collection Center near you click HERE. Used motor oil can also be disposed of at:

A. Yes, and it’s free! Used paint in intact paint cans can be taken to any retail paint supply store that participates in the Paint Care program. To find a Paint Care Drop-Off Site near you click HERE. Paint can also be disposed of at:

A. There are two locations in Monterey County to dispose of pesticides. They are:

A. Electronic wastes include TVs, batteries, computers, fluorescent bulbs, mercury thermostats, smoke alarms, monitors and car batteries. There are two locations in Monterey County to dispose of pesticides. They are:

Underground Storage Tank Program

A. UST owners and operators have a bit more to submit in CERS then a typical hazardous material handler or hazardous waste generator. For example, if nothing changes at a non-UST hazardous material handler’s facility, they are only required to submit the “Facility Information” and “Hazardous Materials Inventory” sections annually. UST operators, however, have a few more submittal elements that are required. The following matrix describes the individual CERS UST submittal elements, their required submittal frequency and a helpful link:

CERS Submittal Element Required Submittal Frequency Link to a Template Form
Facility Information (includes Business Activities and Business Owner/Operator Initially, annually and within 30 days of any changes. No template. Data must be entered directly into CERS
Hazardous Materials Inventory (Includes the Hazardous Materials Inventory and Site Map) Initially, annually and within 30 days of any changes. Hazardous Material Inventory must be entered directly into CERS. To download a template Site Map click HERE
Emergency Response and Training Plans (Includes the Emergency Response Plan and Employee Training Plan) Initially, annually and within 30 days of any changes. To download a template ER Plan with Training Plan click HERE
UST Facility Operating Permit Application (Formerly “Form A”) Initially, annually and within 30 days of any permit changes or facility information changes. No template. Data must be entered directly into CERS
UST Tank Information/Monitoring Plan (Formerly “Form B”) Initially, annually and within 30 days of any plan changes. No template. Data must be entered directly into CERS
UST Monitoring Site Plan Initially, annually and within 30 days of any changes to any of the map elements. To download a template UST Monitoring Site Plan click HERE
UST Certification of Financial Responsibility Initially, annually and within 30 days of an unauthorized release or any changes to the document. To download a template UST Cert. of Fin. Responsibility click HERE
UST Response Plan Initially, annually and within 30 days of any change to the plan. To download a template UST Response Plan click HERE
UST Owner/Operator: Written Agreement Initially, annually and within 30 days of any change to the agreement. To download a template agreement click HERE
UST Letter from Chief Financial Officer Initially, annually and within 30 days of any change. NOTE: Required only if the UST Fund is sited in the UST Certification of Financial Responsibility. To download a template UST CFO Letter click HERE
Owner Statement of Designated UST Operator Compliance Initially, annually, before the designated operator’s ICC certification expires and within 30 days of any other change. To download a template Owner Statement click HERE

A. All UST system testing records must be converted to PDF and uploaded to the “Miscellaneous State-Required Documents” area of CERS which is in the “Underground Storage Tank” section. This includes test results for monitoring system certifications, secondary containment testing, and special testing such as cathodic protection, tank lining and piping testing. It also includes tests performed after a repair has been made to the system.

A. A UST Monitoring Site Plan is a floor plan/map of your property showing all the components of your UST system. The third-party company that does your annual monitoring system certification has likely included a version of this for you in your monitoring system test results. If it contains all the criteria mentioned below, it is fine to upload to CERS (or you can add any missing items before uploading. Your UST Monitoring Site Plan must clearly identify;

  • The general layout of tanks and piping
  • Monitoring system control panels
  • Sensors monitoring tank annular spaces, sumps, dispenser pans, spill containers, or other secondary containment areas
  • Mechanical or electronic line leak detectors
  • In-tank liquid level probes (if used for leak detection)
  • The date the Site Plan was prepared
If you would like to create a UST Monitoring Site Plan from scratch click HERE

A. Yes. Monterey County Hazardous Materials Management Service offers two types of permits depending on the scope of the repair project (Minor and Major). For example, a Minor Repair/Modification Permit will cover a spill bucket replacement while a Major Repair/Modification Permit will be needed for larger projects such as UDC and sump modifications, piping repair or replacement, tank lining, etc. You can link to the Underground Storage Tank Construction/Repair Permit Application by clicking HERE

A. The following matrix has been designed to guide owners and operators of UST systems on this matter. All test results and system certifications must be uploaded to your facilities CERS account in “Miscellaneous State-Requited Documents” which is at the bottom of the “Underground Storage Tanks” section of CERS.

Type of Test Test Frequency
Monitoring System Certification
At the time of install and annually on your test anniversary date
Secondary Containment Test (aka: SB989 Test) At install, 6 months later and every 36 months thereafter. NOTE: VPH systems are exempt from secondary containment testing
Single Walled Tank Test Must pass a 0.1 or a 0.2 gph leak test every month
Cathodic Protection System Every 3 years
Tank Lining Test Every 5 years
Enhanced Leak Detection(aka: ELD) Every 3 years. NOTE: Only UST systems within 1000 ft. of a water well must comply.
Suction Piping Every 3 years
Gravity Flow Piping Every 2 years
Pressurized Piping Annually. NOTE: Positive shutdown fulfills this requirement

Yes. Senate Bill 445 dictates that all single wall underground storage tanks must be properly closed by December 31, 2025. A Local Guidance letter from the California State Water Resources Control Board describing the Bill can be found HERE. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you intend to access money from the UST Cleanup Fund, your application requesting access to that money from the State must be submitted to the State by December 31, 2024 one full year before the deadline for tank removal! This means you should begin the Monterey County UST removal application process immediately to ensure adequate time for project approval.

A. To gain insight into the UST removal process and to download the permit application package click HERE. In addition to the permit application you, or your licensed contractor, will need to complete a Site Safety Plan before a permit to remove your UST will be issued. A template plan can be found HERE

A. If you are considering removing a hydraulic lift system you can click HERE for more information.

Aboveground Petroleum Storage Tank Program (APSA)

A: You are subject to APSA if your facility has 1,320 gallons or more of petroleum storage onsite. NOTE: This amount is determined by adding up the volumes of the petroleum storage containers onsite, not the amount of oil inside the containers. In other words, you add up the “shell capacity” of the storage containers. Also, do not include non-petroleum oils in your calculation. Although these oils may be regulated as a hazardous material they are not regulated under APSA.

A. APSA stands for the Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act and is the set of regulations that Monterey County CUPA is responsible for enforcing. APSA only applies to facilities that have over 1,320 gallons of petroleum oil onsite. Part of what APSA requires is the preparation of a SPCC Plan (which stands for Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure). It is a written plan intended to help prevent the release of petroleum oil to the environment.

The Federal EPA not only oversees Monterey County’s APSA program but also regulates the larger Federal SPCC program in general. They reserve the right to inspect any SPCC facility at any time. The Federal EPA, however, does not just look at facilities with petroleum oil. They regulate and inspect SPCC facilities with any type of oil (both petroleum and non-petroleum oils) if they total over 1,320 gallons.

SPCC stands for “Spill Prevention Containment and Countermeasure”. It is a plan that companies must create if they have 1,320 gallons of oil onsite. There are two important points to remember:

  • When calculating the amount of oil you have onsite you must use the size of the container, not the actual amount of oil you typically keep in the container. In other words, you must count the shell capacity of the container.
  • Also, you only count containers with a shell capacity of 55 gallons or greater. Containers with a capacity of less than 55 gallons do not count toward your 1,320 gallon threshold.

A. Yes. If your business is subject to APSA requirements you must submit a Tank Facility Statement at least once in the “Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act” section of CERS. After this document is uploaded at least once to CERS, you can satisfy this section’s requirements during annual re-submittals by either uploading a new Tank Facility Statement or by uploading a complete Emergency Response/Contingency Plan in CERS. Either method satisfies your APSA reporting requirements. NOTE: SPCC plans are never to be uploaded to CERS.

A: No. The Federal EPA can still regulate SPCC facilities and reserves the right to inspect them. Monterey County regulates the APSA program which includes SPCC plans.

A. An “aboveground storage tank” or “storage tank” means a tank that has the capacity to store 55 gallons or more of petroleum and that is substantially or totally above the surface of the ground.

A. For the purposes of APSA, a “tank facility” is defined as any combination of 55-gallon or greater aboveground storage containers or tanks, including any piping that is integral to the tank, that contains petroleum. Aboveground storage containers or tanks include oil-filled equipment (such as hydraulic systems/reservoirs and heat transfer systems) which have a petroleum storage capacity of 55 gallons or greater.

A. Storage capacity is the shell or design capacity of the aboveground tank. Although you may not always keep the tank full, it is the rated design or shell capacity of a tank that must be counted toward your 1,320 gallon threshold, not the amount of petroleum normally stored inside.

A. Yes, unless it is closed in a specific manner. If an aboveground storage tank is “empty” but has not been modified to prevent storage of a petroleum product, then this “empty” AST is still regulated under APSA. However, if the “empty” AST container meets the federal SPCC rule definition of “permanently closed,” it is not captured under APSA. To permanently close a tank, you must:

  • Remove all liquid and sludge from the container and connecting line
  • Disconnect all piping from the container and blank off
  • Close and lock all valves (except for ventilation valves)
  • Post a conspicuous sign on the container stating that it is a permanently closed container and note the date of closure.
Be sure to update your SPCC plan as necessary to reflect the status of all regulated tanks. If you decide to put the tank back into service in the future it would become fully regulated again as a petroleum storage tank immediately upon any amount of petroleum being placed into the tank, and all SPCC- related requirements apply at that time.

A. Yes, if they are 55 gallons or larger and used to store a waste petroleum product. The most common example is storage of waste oil. There are exceptions to this rule if your facility is a permitted hazardous waste treatment facility.

A. No. Only petroleum products that are liquid at ambient temperature and pressure are regulated under APSA. Propane and natural gas are not liquids at room temperature and ambient pressure and are therefore not regulated under APSA.

A.There is no APSA-specific definition of a farm. Section 52262 of the Food and Agricultural Code defines a “farm” as a place of agricultural production that has annual sales of agricultural products of $1,000 or more. Under APSA, farms are conditionally excluded from the APSA requirement for tank facilities to prepare an SPCC Plan. However, APSA-excluded farms are not exempt or excluded from regulation under federal SPCC rules. This means that even though Monterey County CUPA does not regulate your SPCC program, the Federal EPA still does. Specific information on the federal SPCC rule, including fact sheets for farms, can be found HERE

A. There are four types of APSA regulated facilities which are described below:
APSA Exempted Facilities
A tank facility located on a farm, nursery, logging site, or construction site, while still regulated under APSA, is conditionally exempt from the APSA requirement to prepare and implement a SPCC plan if:

  • no storage tank at the location exceeds 10,000 gallons, and
  • the cumulative storage capacity of the tank facility does not exceed 20,000 gallons.
These facilities are still subject APSA program fees, Tank Facility Statement/Business Plan submissions in CERS, and inspections. The operator of the tank system is also required to conduct and record daily inspections of the system. Because of this, many exempt facilities find it easier to simply complete a Qualified Facility template plan which can be self-certified. NOTE: Exemption from APSA does not exempt you from Federal EPA SPCC requirements. If you have over 1,320 gallons of any type of oil onsite (including non-petroleum oil) you are still required to prepare a SPCC for the Federal EPA.

Tier I Qualified Facilities
To meet the requirements of a Tier I Qualified Facility you must:
  • Have an aggregate shell capacity of 10,000 gallons or less
  • Have no single tank larger than 5,000 gallons
  • Within any 12-month period have had
    • No single discharge of oil to navigable water or adjoining shoreline exceeding 1,000 gallons; or
    • No two discharges of oil to navigable water or adjoining shoreline each exceeding 42 gallons
If all the requirements are met you can use the Tier I SPCC template and self-certify, rather than employing a Professional Engineer to certify the SPCC plan. To download a Tier I Plan template click HERE

Tier II Qualified Facilities
Tier II Qualified Facilities are similar to Tier I Qualified Facilities except they have a single tank larger than 5,000 gallons. To meet the requirements of a Tier II Qualified Facility you must:
  • Have an aggregate shell capacity of 10,000 gallons or less
  • Have a single tank larger than 5,000 gallons
  • Within any 12-month period have had
    • No single discharge of oil to navigable water or adjoining shoreline exceeding 1,000 gallons; or
    • No two discharges of oil to navigable water or adjoining shoreline each exceeding 42 gallons
If all the requirements are met you can use the Tier II SPCC template and self-certify, rather than employing a Professional Engineer to certify the SPCC plan. To download a Tier II Plan template click HERE

Non-Qualified Facilities
A facility that does not qualify as Tier I or Tier II must prepare a SPCC plan in accordance with good engineering practice. No specific format is required but the plan is required to be approved and stamped by a licensed engineer. As long as the Plan contains all the required 40 CFR elements, is facility-specific and is prepared in accordance with a good engineering practice, any format may be used.

A. Either a registered professional engineer (for a Non-Qualified facility) or the owner or operator (for a Qualified Tier I or Tier II facility) may certify a tank facility’s SPCC Plan and sign off on the plan’s five year review. A Qualified Facility must meet all the following criteria:

  • Have a total facility storage capacity that is 10,000 gallons or less; and
  • Within the past three years, have had no single discharge to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines exceeding 1,000 gallons or no two discharges to navigable water or adjoining shoreline each exceeding 42 gallons within any rolling twelve-month period over the past three years. NOTE: Storm drains that lead to the ocean are considered navigable waters.

A. Yes, if your facility meets the requirements of a Qualified Tier I or Tier II facility. Tier I and II facilities are described as follows:

Tier I Tier II
10,000 gallons or less of aggregate (total) aboveground storage capacity
Within any 12-month period, three years prior to Plan certification date, has had:
  • No single discharge of oil to navigable water (including storm drains) or adjoining shoreline exceeding 1,000 gallons; or
  • No two discharges of oil to navigable water (including storm drains) or adjoining shoreline each exceeding 42 gallons
No aboveground storage tank greater than 5,000 gallon capacity Has aboveground storage tank greater than 5,000 gallon capacity
Then…SPCC Plan Requirements:
Complete, self-certify and implement the SPCC Plan template (Appendix G to 40 CFR 112) in lieu of a full PE-certified Plan. To download a Tier I Plan template click HERE Prepare and implement a self-certified SPCC Plan in accordance with all applicable requirements of 40 CFR 112.6 and 112.7 and subpart B. To download a Tier II Plan template click HERE

A. SPCC Plans must be reviewed and certified every 5 years. The review must be documented with the review date and signed by the reviewer. The owner or operator can review the Qualified SPCC Plans (Tier I and Tier II). A licensed engineer must review and stamp the Non-Qualified Plans.

A. There are two triggers for SPCC Plan amendments by the facility: Technical changes and the five-year review.

  • Technical changes are any change to the facility, tanks, procedures, materials (e.g., type of petroleum), construction, design or maintenance that changes the facility's potential for oil release. Per 40 CFR 112.5, the Plan must be amended within six months of the. If your facility is classified as a Non-Qualified APSA facility, all technical amendments must be certified by a licensed Professional Engineer in accordance with 40 CFR 112.3(d).
  • The facility must conduct a review of the SPCC Plan at least once every five years. The facility is required to amend the Plan within six months following a review if a change is implemented. Unless the five-year review results in a technical change to the plan, a new PE certification is not required following a five-year review of a Non-Qualified Facility.

A. No, we do not do plan checks or approvals for SPCC plans. Installation, modification and repair of aboveground storage tanks are typically regulated by the local fire authority.

A. No. You are only required to submit a Tank Facility Statement in CERS. There is no requirement in APSA for a tank facility to submit or file its SPCC Plan itself. There is also no requirement in APSA for a tank facility’s SPCC Plan to be approved by Monterey County CUPA. NOTE: Do not upload your SPCC plan to CERS.

A. Bulk storage containers are required by 40 CFR 112.8(c)(6) to be routinely integrity tested. Depending upon the industry standard, integrity testing could range from a monthly and annual visual inspection to a very detailed series of physical tests (such as acoustic, ultrasonic, radiographic, etc.) of tank exterior and interiors by an industry standard-certified outside inspector. The federal SPCC rule leaves the type and frequency of these integrity tests to the facility and/or the Professional Engineer reviewing/certifying the SPCC Plan. The type and frequency of the tests, and the qualifications of the personnel conducting the tests, must be described in the SPCC Plan. Records of integrity testing must be kept for at least three years, with a copy of the last test kept on file for comparison purposes regardless of when the previous test was performed.

A. No. There is no specific requirement to elevate ASTs in the SPCC rule. Typically, the bottom of the tank must have adequate structural support and corrosion-protection. 40 CFR 112.8(c)(6) requires that the outside of the tank be inspected, including supports and foundations. That there must be some means to evaluate the underside of the AST to determine if it is leaking, and whether the tank supports are in good shape. This would not be possible if it is a single-walled tank sitting flush on the flooring surface. In some cases, depending on the tank, periodic internal inspections may be required.

A. Not necessarily. For example, a single dike may be used for a group of tanks or containers. Secondary containment for a co-located group of tanks or drums is required to contain the volume of the largest single tank within the group of tanks or drums plus sufficient freeboard to allow for precipitation (if exposed to rainfall). The dike or other containment system must also be sufficiently impervious to contain any discharged oil from escaping the containment area until cleanup can be completed.

A. No, not unless one of the following conditions apply to you:

  • Your business is a farm, nursery, logging site, or construction site and you have claimed the relevant exemption from APSA or;
  • Your site is a Non-Qualified facility and the certifying PE has required daily inspections as part of your SPCC.

FAQs about California Environmental Reporting System (CERS)

A.Assembly Bill 2286, which took effect on January 1, 2009, requires all regulated businesses and all regulated local government agencies, called Unified Program Agencies (UPAs), to use the Internet to file required Unified Program information currently filed on paper forms. In Monterey County, the Environmental Health Bureau is the local certified UPA.

Information that is required to be filed electronically includes facility data regarding hazardous materials, hazardous waste, chemical inventories, site maps and underground and aboveground storage tanks. All regulated businesses and UPAs in the State of California were required to begin filing relevant information electronically by January 1, 2013.

The new reporting system is called the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS) and was built by Cal EPA. CERS is now available for use free of charge by regulated businesses and UPAs for the purpose of reporting electronically.

Electronic reporting will save businesses time and money. They will be able to view their stored information on-line, and can easily complete their submittal with a few clicks of a mouse. Annual re-submittals are even easier.

For more information about CERS and Unified Program electronic reporting requirements, please click HERE.

A.The first thing you need to do to begin reporting in CERS is to create an account. Click HERE to watch a short step by step video on how to do this. The video references the CERS home page which can be found HERE

BE SURE TO WRITE DOWN YOUR USERNAME AND PASSWORD! Forgotten usernames and passwords are one of the most common problems we assist people with. Also, you will need your username and password in years to come because you are required to re-submit by December 31 of every year. There is a FAQ in this section to assistance with the re-submitting process.

A. After you have signed in to CERS you need to find your facility to begin the data entry or submittal process. It is likely Monterey County Environmental Health has already uploaded some of your basic facility information into CERS. We did this using information we have stored in our in-house data base. You just need to request access to your facility’s CERS data before you can begin reporting on your facility.

To find your facility/business in CERS, follow the process shown below. CERS will direct you on what you need to do as you go.

  1. Select the “Search” button under the “Request Access to an Existing CERS Business” section as shown below. Do not use the “Add a New Facility” section at this time. Unless yours is a brand-new facility it is likely Monterey County CUPA has already ‘seeded’ your basic facility information into CERS.
  2. Search for your facility by entering the facility’s street address and city as shown in the search screen below.
    CAUTION: Only enter the city your facility is in and your facility’s street address numbers as shown below. Do not enter a street name or any other identifiers.
  3. Review your search results, and if your facility’s business is shown, select the “Request Access…” link as shown below.
  4. You must provide your phone number as shown in the screen shot below. Click on the green “Submit” button and an inspector from Monterey County Environmental Health Bureau will be prompted to review and approve your request. Once approved you will get an email notification instructing you to proceed with your submittal.
  5. If you did not find your business in CERS, then select the “Home” link at the top of the screen and select the “Add New Facility” button.

    CAUTION: Do not do this until you are certain your business has not already been seeded into CERS. Contact the Hazardous Materials Management Service of the Monterey County Environmental Health Bureau to verify your business has not been seeded into CERS.

A. First, you must create an account in CERS. If you need help, please see the FAQ titled “How do I get a CERS account?”. After you have logged into CERS you’ll need to click on the “Add Facility” button as shown below.
You will then be prompted to enter your facility’s street address, city and zip code as shown below. Once complete, click “Next”.
On the next screen enter your business’s name and click “Continue”
Finally, add your phone number and title and click the green “Submit” button as shown below.
You’ll be prompted to click on a green “Continue” button on one last screen and then be taken to the first reportable data page in CERS. As you fill in all the requested information in the CERS data fields, please note that there are instructions and applicable templates at the top of each section.

A. In 2013 Monterey County Hazardous Materials Management Service ‘seeded’ some basic facility, owner and operator information from our own in-house data base into CERS. This provides a starting point for all existing permitted facilities to begin their first CERS submittal. If you need help finding your business in CERS, please see the FAQ titled “How do I find my business in CERS?” Once Monterey County CUPA has granted you permission to access your business in CERS you are ready to begin reporting. Log into CERS (because you remembered to write down your Username and Password!) and click the “Start/Edit Submittal” button as shown below.
At this point CERS will take you through two different pages of information. As mentioned previously, Monterey County CUPA has already seeded this information into CERS but you will need to verify the information to be correct. As you complete your reviews click on the green “Save” and or “Continue” buttons to advance.

Now that you have finished your review of the data we seeded into CERS, the next step will be to complete each section on your facility’s “Prepare Draft Submittal” screen as shown below. NOTE: Each facility may have different “Submittal Elements” then what is shown below (the Submittal Elements are circled in red). It is your answers on the “Business Activities” page that generate the associated Submittal Elements.
As you work on each document listed under the submittal elements, please remember that there are instructions with templates and examples at the top of each page you are working on. Once you have completed the documents in all the shown Submittal Elements you are ready to submit (if a document title is colored red as seen above then you have missed something and need to go back and correct it before submitting). To submit all your hard work, click on the “Submit” button circled in blue above. CERS will then direct you to a “Submittal Summary” page as shown below. Click the “Submit Selected Elements” as shown.
Monterey County CUPA will review your submittal and provide feedback through CERS. You will receive an email from CERS indicating your submittal was either accepted or needs a little more work.

A. Part of your CERS submittal will be to include all hazardous materials and wastes you have onsite at or over threshold quantities (threshold quantities are 55 gallons of a liquid, 200 cubic feet of a gas or 500 pounds of a solid). You must list your materials in the “Hazardous Material Inventory” section within the Hazardous Materials Inventory submittal element as shown below.

Once you click on the “Hazardous Material Inventory” link you’ll be taken to your inventory which will show all the chemicals you have entered so far. If you are just getting started this area will be empty. To add a hazardous material, click on the green “Add Material” button. You’ll then be taken to one of the best features of CERS, the Chemical Library. There are thousands of chemicals in the Library and several ways to search as shown below.

Enter a search term and select your chemical from the list CERS generates for you. Don’t see any chemicals when you search? Try another search term. Try common names, chemical names or names from your chemical’s safety data sheet.

A. Before CERS you submitted your chemical and facility information to us on paper documents. You might remember Unidocs? Well CERS requires all the same information as Unidocs and needs to be re-submitted once a year. Monterey County CUPA has established a re-submittal deadline date of December 31.

NOTE: When you resubmit, be sure the email address in CERS is correct. We will be sending your re-submittal reminders/instructions to the email address as well as information about upcoming workshops and important changes to regulations.

A. If there have been no changes to personnel, contact information (email addresses are particularly important), hazardous materials types or quantities or site plan elements CERS offers an expedited way to resubmit. You must first log in to CERS and begin a new submittal as shown below:
Next, click on the “Create All HMBP Submittal Elements” button as shown below:

After that you will need to confirm the creation of your submittal as shown below:

Finally, click on the Submit button with the checkered flag. You’ll then have the opportunity to print your entire submittal if you would like paper copies for your records.

A. A Business refers to a company as a whole while a Facility is one property under that Business organization. One Business can be made up of many facilities. For example, AT&T is a Business which has hazardous material handling sites which are considered Facilities. When you report in CERS, you are reporting on a Facility.

A. Be sure to read the instructions in the header of the Site Map section of CERS. Map requirements and instructions are listed there. The purpose of the map is to keep fire fighters and emergency responders safe should they need to respond to a fire or other incident at your facility. Your Site Map must include:

  • A north arrow
  • Street names
  • Building names
  • The locations of electrical, gas (or propane) and water shutoffs
  • Hazardous materials and waste storage locations as well as what is stored there
  • The locations of storm drains
  • Employee evacuation meeting area
  • Map scale
  • Anything else you think a fire fighter might need to know about to stay safe

A. There is more than one way to accomplish this. First, if you have assigned more than one lead user to your business in CERS then one of the other lead users may log into CERS and delete the desired user account. To do this, the user must log in and click on the “My Business” button in the upper right corner as shown below.
On the next screen, select the user you wish to delete and follow the prompts to finish deleting their account.
NOTE: You can also change a user’s status or contact information by clicking on the “Edit” button instead of the “Delete” button. Status options include Approvers, Editors and Viewers and are explained in greater detail in the “What is the difference between a Lead User, Approver, Editor and Viewer in CERS?” FAQ.

A. Essentially, they offer different levels of control over the content you enter into CERS. They can be summarized in the following way:

  • Approvers can add, view, edit and submit facility information to Monterey County CUPA.
  • Editors can add or edit facility submittals but cannot submit to Monterey County CUPA.
  • Lead User is the highest permission level. They can add, view, edit and submit data as well as add and delete other internal user accounts. All businesses should have at least one Lead User.
  • Viewers can only view data in a static, read-only format.

A. You communicate the closing of a business by logging into CERS, beginning a new submittal and answering “No” to all the question on the Business Activities page. This will place your facility in a “Non-Regulated” status. A Monterey County CUPA inspector will be notified of the change and may contact you with a few clarification questions. Please note, if your business includes more than one facility you’ll need to repeat this process for each of the facilities you intend to close.

A. CERS IDs are assigned to an address, not a particular business or facility. Therefore, when you move your business to a new location you will need to inactivate the CERS ID associated with your old location and activate the CERS ID for the new location. If you need assistance inactivating your old location, see the FAQ titled “What do I do if I close my business?”. If you need help finding and activating the CERS ID for your new location, see the FAQ titled “How do I find my business in CERS?”

A. If your business only generates hazardous waste you do not need to register and submit in CERS if the following two conditions are met:

  1. Your business does not store a hazardous material onsite above threshold quantities for greater than 30 days. Threshold quantities are 55 gallons of a liquid, 200 ft3 of a gas or 500 lbs. of a solid. If you do store such quantities, you must register as a Hazardous Materials Handler in CERS and report on both your hazardous materials as well as your hazardous waste and;
  2. You do not store hazardous waste above the threshold quantities for longer than 30 days. If you do, you must register as a Hazardous Materials Handler in CERS and report your hazardous waste in the same manner you would report any hazardous material.

A. Currently, Monterey County CUPA does not regulate facilities that only handle carbon dioxide. Unless notified otherwise, you do not need to submit in CERS. If you have already reported in CERS, your historic submittals will not be accepted and your facility will be assigned an inactive status.

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