Bill to Strengthen Enforcement of Hazardous Waste is Signed into Law

Thursday, October 5, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill (AB) 245, a bill by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), to align the maximum penalty the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) can levy against a facility or individual, that violates the Hazardous Waste Control Law (HWCL) to the federal maximum, has been signed into law.


HWCL regulates the appropriate handling, processing and disposal of hazardous waste to protect the human health and the environment. DTSC has the authority to levy a fine against anyone that violates the HWCL. These violations can include making false statements on a permit, intentional and unauthorized disposal of hazardous waste, and negligent disposal of hazardous waste. The maximum civil penalty DTSC is allowed to levy is $25,000 per violation.


“DTSC is responsible for ensuring that harmful chemicals are not improperly or negligently released into the environment. Increasing the civil penalty will help DTSC with clean-up and enforcement efforts,” explained Assemblymember Quirk.


Half of the civil penalties collected are required by law to be deposited in DTSC's cleanup fund which is used to clean-up contaminated properties when there is not a responsible party to pay for the clean-up.  The remaining half is split evenly between the entity that brought the legal action and the entity that investigated the violation. These amounts have not been increased since 1989. In January 2017, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) adopted, by regulation, an increase of penalties for environmental violations to $70,000. AB 245 conforms state penalties to the federal amounts.


“I am pleased Governor Brown agrees with me that equalizing the maximum penalties DTSC can levy with the federal penalties for the same violations, will ensure that those entities who expose our communities to hazardous chemicals will pay,” said Assemblymember Quirk upon learning his bill had been signed into law.


AB 245 goes into effect January 1, 2018