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Frequently Asked Questions

faqGroupLookupString: Hazardous Materials Business Plans
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Hazardous Materials Business Plans
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How do I obtain a permit?
Electronically submitting a HMBP will trigger a regulator to review it. Upon a full review, you will receive an invoice for your permit category. By paying this invoice, you will receive your permit.​
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Why am I required to report electronically?
Assembly Bill 2286 (Feuer) was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, chaptered on September 29, 2008 and went into effect January 1, 2009.  As of January 1, 2013, the law requires regulated businesses to use the Internet to file required Unified Program information previously filed by paper forms.​
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How do I submit information electronically?
HMCD, as the County Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) and local fire departments that work with the County as Participating Agencies (PA) are developing a local web portal (i.e., website) named FrontCounter, where businesses may submit required information and access additional compliance tools and resources. Information collected through the FrontCounter portal will be transmitted electronically to Cal/EPA's state-wide database, the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS). We anticipate that our portal, FrontCounter, will be operational in the fourth quarter of 2015. Businesses will be notified when FrontCounter is ready for use. If you are required to make a submittal before FrontCounter is available, you may go directly to CERS.​​​
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Can I submit data both to CERS and FrontCounter?
No. You will need to submit using only one of the reporting systems. We highly encourage you to use FrontCounter, as it will allow you to meet both State and local requirements from one website. It will also provide tools and information beyond what is available in CERS. Businesses that use CERS as their primary reporting system may need to submit additional forms and information directly to the local agency in order to meet local requirements.

If you have used or are using CERS, your latest approved submittal will be available in FrontCounter, as long as the information has been accepted by a regulator. You may switch to FrontCounter, but will be required to stop using CERS.​

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Will all agencies be approaching electronic reporting the same way?
No. Some agencies will choose to develop a local portal, while others will have their businesses reporting directly to CERS. The FrontCounter portal described in this FAQ is intended for businesses within Santa Clara County, excluding those in the cities of Gilroy, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale.​
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How will electronic reporting benefit businesses and agencies?
Electronic reporting will save time and resources by allowing all of the following:
  • Businesses and their contractors can quickly access, update, and submit Unified Program information.
  • Multi-jurisdictional businesses can submit required information through a single reporting system.
  • Emergency Responders can quickly see a facility's current hazardous materials inventory and site maps.​
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When must I submit my Hazardous Materials Business Plan?
Hazardous Materials Business Plans must be submitted within 12 months of your last submittal and/or 30 days of any substantial changes to your facility's operations.​

Substantial changes include:
  • A 100 percent or more increase in the quantity of a previously disclosed material
  • Any handling of a previously undisclosed hazardous material subject to the inventory requirements of an HMBP
  • Change of business address
  • Change of business ownership
  • Change of business name
  • A substantial change in the handler's operations
  • Any change that would inhibit immediate response during an emergency by either site personnel or emergency response personnel
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Do all hazardous materials need to be reported?
Hazardous materials which meet or exceed State-mandated thresholds must be reported. However, your facility may be subject to additional requirements per local or municipal codes. For example, the County's Hazardous Materials Storage Ordinance requires below-threshold hazardous materials to be reported on your HMBP, aggregated by hazard class and storage location.

If your facility is located within the city limits of Milpitas, Mountain View, or Palo Alto, please check with that city's Fire Department. If your facility is located in Campbell, Cupertino, or Los Gatos, please check with the Santa Clara County Fire Department. The cities of Gilroy, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale​ are all separate CUPAs; please contact them for details. All other areas in our CUPA (Los Altos Hills, Moffett Field, Monte Sereno, San Martin, Saratoga, Stanford, and unincorporated areas, are subject to the aforementioned Hazardous Materials Storage Ordinance.​
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How do I recertify my HMBP from last year?
A full HMBP is required annually. Both CERS and FrontCounter facilitate re-submittals by using previously-submitted information so that you need not start a submittal from scratch each year. Please visit CERS or FrontCounter to submit your full HMBP.​
faqGroupLookupString: Hazardous Waste
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Hazardous Waste
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How do I obtain a permit?
​Electronically submitting the Facility Information submittal element on CERS will prompt a regulator to review your submittal. Upon review, an invoice will be issued to your facility for your appropriate permit category. By paying this invoice, you will receive a hazardous waste permit.
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How/when do I report a spill?
If you witness or suspect a spill or illegal disposal of hazardous waste, contact HMCD immediately. After business hours and weekends call CalEPA at (916) 845-8911. In the event of an emergency, call 911 immediately.
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How do I file a complaint?
​If you have observed any activity, conduct, or physical evidence you suspect to be illegal or unauthorized or have knowledge of suspected illegal or unauthorized conduct impacting, or threatening to impact, California’s environment or the public health, please file a complaint with either of the following:
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How do I label my hazardous waste?
​For detailed information about how to label your hazardous waste, check out HMCD's Labeling and Marking Requirements Document​.
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Where can I receive hazardous waste training?
HMCD provides free hazardous waste training for small quantity generators of hazardous waste. To sign up for an upcoming class, click here.
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How do I dispose of my Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)?
​If you are a resident or your business qualifies as a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG), you have the opportunity to participate in Santa Clara County's HHW Program. For more information about the HHW program and drop off locations, click here.
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Do I need to submit a Recycling of Excluded or Exempted Materials Notification?
​If you recycle more than 100 kg/month of recyclable material onsite or recycle "excluded recyclable materials" generated off-site under a claim that the material qualifies for an exclusion or exemption pursuant to Health and Safety Code §25143.2, you must submit a Recyclable Materials Report with your CERS submittal. This report is for two calendar years and due on July 1 of every even-numbered year.
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Do I need to submit a Remove Waste Consolidation Site Notification?
​If you are a hazardous waste generator that collects hazardous waste initially at remote sites and subsequently transports the hazardous waste to a consolidation site that you also operate, you must submit a include a Remote Waste Consolidation Site Annual Notification with your CERS submittal. This notification must be submitted every year. Refer to Health and Safety Code §25110.10 for eligibility and notification requirements.
faqGroupLookupString: Tiered Permitting
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Tiered Permitting
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How do I obtain a permit?
Electronically submitting all required information in CERS will prompt a regulator to review your submittal. Upon review, an invoice will be issued to your facility for your appropriate permit category. By paying this invoice, you will receive a Tiered Permitting Facility Permit.
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What tier am I in?
​To determine which tier or tiers apply to your operations, refer to the DTSC Onsite Tiered Permitting Flow Chart.​​​​​
faqGroupLookupString: Underground Storage Tanks
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Underground Storage Tanks
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What is an Underground Storage Tank (UST)?
​A UST is a tank or combination of tanks and piping, located 10% or more beneath the surface of the ground, that stores hazardous chemicals.
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Are there any tanks that are exempt from this Program?
​Yes. Farm tanks, heating oil tanks- located at a personal residence and holds no more than 1,100 gallons of heating oil, hydraulic lift tanks, propane tanks, septic tanks, sumps, pits, ponds, or lagoons, wastewater treatment tanks, except those that are part of a UST system, stormwater or wastewater collection systems, and emergency containment tanks kept empty to receive accidental spills are exempt from this Program. See Health & Safety Code, Chapter 6.7, §25281.​​
faqGroupLookupString: Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act
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Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act
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How do I obtain a permit?
​Electronically submitting the Facility Information submittal element and Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act Documentation on CERS will prompt a regulator to review your submittal. Upon review, an invoice will be issued to your facility for your appropriate permit category. By paying this invoice, you will receive an APSA Facility Permit.​
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What type of SPCC Plan should I use (ex. Tier I, Tier II, P.E. Certified)?
  • ​If your facility has ≤10,000 gallons total petroleum storage capacity and no tank is >5,000 gallons, you may use the Tier I SPCC Plan Template.
  • If your facility has ≤10,000 gallons total petroleum storage capacity and any individual tank is >5,000 gallons, you may self-certify using the Tier II SPCC Plan Template, but may not use the Tier I SPCC Plan Template.
  • Facilities with >10,000 gallons total storage capacity must have a registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) review and certify the SPCC Plan.
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Is my facility exempt from APSA?
  • ​Farms, nurseries, logging and construction sites with no tank >20,000 gallons and a total petroleum storage capacity <100,000 gallons are conditionally exempt from completing and implementing an SPCC Plan. However, these facilities must:
    • Submit Facility Information and required APSA Documentation on CERS.
    • Conduct daily inspections of ASTs in compliance with Federal SPCC rules.
    • Pay annual invoice to keep an active ASPA permit with HMCD.
    • Allow HMCD to conduct periodic inspections.
    • Notify HMCD and CalOES of a spill or release of 42 gallons or more of petroleum.
  • Farms, nurseries, logging, and construction sites with tanks >20,000 gallons or a total petroleum storage capacity >100,000 gallons must comply with the requirements listed above and complete an SPCC Plan.
faqGroupLookupString: Hazardous Materials Storage
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Hazardous Materials Storage
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How do I obtain a permit?
Upon review of your Hazardous Materials Registration Form, or your Hazardous Materials Business Plan, you will receive an invoice for your annual permit. Please pay this invoice in a timely manner to receive your permit.​
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I am already required to submit a Hazardous Materials Business Plan. Do I need to submit a Hazardous Materials Registration Form as well?
The Hazardous Materials Registration Form is a simplified version of the HMBP. By submitting a HMBP, you are complying with both HMBP and HMSO program requirements. ​However, in addition to above-threshold hazardous materials, your HMBP must include below-threshold materials aggregated by hazard class and storage location.​​
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How do I report hazardous materials below HMBP thresholds?
Rather than listing each chemical individually, you may aggregate materials by hazard class and storage areas.
faqGroupLookupString: Toxic Gases
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Toxic Gases
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How do I obtain a permit?
If you believe you may need a Toxic Gas Facility Permit for your facility, contact us for additional information.
faqGroupLookupString: Closures
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Closures
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What requirements are there for on-site cutting and/or cleaning of aboveground and underground storage tank systems that previously held hazardous materials/wastes?

For aboveground tank cutting and/or cleaning, the following documents are required to be submitted to HMCD if the tank is located in an unincorporated area of Santa Clara County or within the city limits of Los Altos Hills, Moffett Field, Monte Sereno, San Martin, Stanford, Saratoga or Stanford:

• A completed Hazardous Materials Storage Tank System Cleaning/Cutting Application

• A completed Aboveground Tank Closure Application

• A copy of the Site-Specific Health and Safety Plan 

If the tank isn't within any of these areas, contact your local fire department.

For underground storage tank cutting and/or cleaning, the following documents are required to be submitted to HMCD if the tank is located within the cities of Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Monte Sereno, Moffett Field, Saratoga, San Jose, San Martin, Stanford or in unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County:

• A completed Hazardous Materials Storage Tank System Cleaning/Cutting Application
 
• A completed UST System Closure Permit Application
 
• A copy of the Site-Specific Health and Safety Plan 

If the tank isn't within any of these areas, contact your local fire department.
faqGroupLookupString: Meth Labs
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Meth Labs
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What is "meth"?

​"Meth" is short for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride. It is also known as speed, crank, crystal, ice, and yaba. It appears as a white crystalline powder or chunks, or clear crystals if it's very pure, but may appear yellowish or brownish due to contaminants.

The most common ingredient in meth is pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, commonly found in cold medicine. Through a cooking process the pseudoephedrine or ephedrine is chemically changed into meth. The ingredients that are used in the process of making meth can include: ether, paint thinner, Freon, acetone, anhydrous ammonia, iodine crystals, red phosphorus, drain cleaner, battery acid, and lithium (taken from inside batteries). Manufacturing methamphetamine can result in explosions, fires, and the release of poisonous and/or corrosive gases.

For additional information, please click here
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What should I do if I suspect a methamphetamine lab exists on my property?

If you suspect a methamphetamine lab, do not approach it or the occupants. Call your local police department.

If you believe there is a methamphetamine-related emergency, call 911.​​​

faqGroupLookupString: Inspections
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Inspections
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When will an inspection of my facility occur?
​Inspections are not always scheduled ahead of time. They may occur at any time during normal business hours.
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I've been inspected by HMCD. What do I need to do?
​Your inspector should have left you with a copy of your inspection report. In this report, any violations that were observed during the inspection will be documented. You must correct the violations within 30 days (unless otherwise noted) and then return the Notice of Inspection with your comments and signature. For more information, please see our Official Notice of Inspection - Supplemental Information​ document.​​
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Last updated: 12/11/2017 8:37 AM