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About CUPA (Certified Unified Program Agency)

The Hazardous Materials Division of the San Bernardino County Fire Department is designated by the State Secretary for Environmental Protection as the Certified Unified Program Agency or "CUPA" for the County of San Bernardino in order to focus the management of specific environmental programs at the local government level. The CUPA is charged with the responsibility of conducting compliance inspections for over 7000 regulated facilities in San Bernardino County.

As a CUPA, San Bernardino County Fire Department manages six hazardous material and hazardous waste programs. The CUPA program is designed to consolidate, coordinate, and uniformly and consistently administer permits, inspection activities, and enforcement activities throughout San Bernardino County. This approach strives to reduce overlapping and sometimes conflicting requirements of different governmental agencies independently managing these programs.

The six CUPA Program Elements include:
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Hazardous Materials PlanThe purpose of this CUPA program is to provide information regarding hazardous materials at facilities to emergency responders and to the general public, along with coordinating the reporting of releases and spill response among businesses to local, state, and federal government authorities. Facilities are required to disclose all hazardous materials and wastes above certain designated quantities which are used, stored, or handled at their facility. The plans must be updated by March 1st of each year, or within 30 days of a substantial change. Facilities are also required to provide initial and annual training for employees to safely handle chemicals and to take appropriate emergency response actions. In addition, this training must be documented and maintained for a minimum of three years. Inspections are conducted to verify the inventory and other information on the business emergency/contingency plan.

In San Bernardino County, the Business Emergency/Contingency Plan ("Business Plan") is also used to satisfy the contingency plan requirement for hazardous waste generators. Any business subject to any of the CUPA permits is required in San Bernardino County to file a Business Emergency/Contingency Plan using the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS). This submission is used as the basis for the permit application. A new business going through the process of obtaining County or City planning or building approval is required to comply with the Business Emergency/Contingency Plan requirement prior to obtaining final certificate of occupancy and prior to bringing hazardous materials onto the property.

The quantities that trigger disclosure are based on the maximum quantity on site at any time excluding materials under active shipping papers or for direct retail sale to the public. The basic quantities are: hazardous materials at or exceeding 55 gallons, 500 pounds, or 200 cubic feet at any time in the course of a year; specified amounts of radioactives, and extremely hazardous substances above the threshold planning quantity. Submission of the Business Emergency/ Contingency Plan satisfies the EPCRA 311-312 Tier II Reporting requirement of the USEPA if done in accordance with EPCRA instructions.

With the exception of confidential contact and location information and substantiated trade secrets, the business plan is available for review by the public. Requests to review business plans or any other Hazardous Materials Division records are handled through our Hazardous Materials Records Research and Review Service.

Release Reporting

Businesses that handle hazardous materials are required by law to provide an immediate verbal report of any release or threatened release of hazardous materials, if there is a reasonable belief that the release or threatened release poses a significant present or potential hazard to human health and safety, property, or the environment. Fines of up to $25,000 per day and one year in prison may result if you fail to report a release or a threatened release. Any releases or threatened releases of hazardous materials must be reported to the Hazardous Materials Division at 1.800.33.TOXIC (In California) or 909.386.8425 and to the State Office of Emergency Services (OES) Warning Center. Reports to OES can be made by calling 800.852.7550. If a release involves a hazardous substance listed in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, and the release equals or exceeds the reportable quantity, an additional immediate verbal report must be made to the National Response Center by calling 800.424.8802 and a follow-up notice must be filed within 15 days of the incident. Reporting forms may be obtained from this Department or from the California Code of Regulations Title 19.

What is a Hazardous Material?

The California Health and Safety Code defines a Hazardous Material as "any material that because of its quantity, concentration, or physical or chemical characteristics poses a significant present or potential hazard to human health and safety or the environment if released into the work-place or environment." Thus, hazardous material is a broad term for all substances that may be hazardous, specifically including hazardous substances and hazardous waste. Substances that are flammable, corrosive, reactive, oxidizers, radioactive, combustible, or toxic are considered hazardous. Because of the broad definition of this law, if a substance is considered hazardous under any other environmental, safety, or transportation law or regulation, it is likely to meet the definition of hazardous material for this law. These include substances that require a Safety Data Sheet under worker protection laws, substances that are regulated as hazardous under transportation laws, and substances that are listed as radioactive under federal environmental regulations. Some common hazardous materials include: oil, fuels, paints, thinners, cleaning solvents, compressed gases, radioactive materials and pesticides.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Any business that violates any provision of the Business Emergency Plan shall be civilly liable in an amount of not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000) for each day of the violation. Any business that knowingly and willfully violates any provision of the Business Emergency Plan shall be civilly liable in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each day of the violation (CA Health and Safety Code, Section 255154(b)). Any person who willfully prevents, interferes with, or attempts to impede the enforcement of this chapter by any authorized representative of an Administering Agency is, upon conviction, guilty of a misdemeanor (Health and Safety Code, Section 25515.1). If the violation results in, or significantly contributes to an emergency, including a fire to which the county and/or city is required to respond, the person(s) shall also be assessed the full cost of the county and/or city emergency response as well as the cost of cleaning up and disposing of the hazardous material.

As part of the CUPA, the Hazardous Materials Division implements the Hazardous Waste Inspection Program. The purpose of this program is to ensure that all hazardous wastes generated by San Bernardino County facilities are properly managed. Specialists in this program inspect facilities that generate hazardous waste, investigate complaints of unlawful hazardous waste disposal, and participate in public education. These programs are designed to provide information about laws and regulations relating to safe management of hazardous waste.

What is Hazardous Waste?

Hazardous waste may be liquid, solid, compressed gases, or sludge. The waste may be by-products of manufacturing processes or simply unwanted commercial products. If the waste has any of these four characteristics, then it is considered to be hazardous:

  • Ignitability
  • Reactivity
  • Corrosivity
  • Toxicity

More information on specific hazardous wastes can be found in the California Health and Safety Code, Division 20, Chapter 6.5 and the California Code of Regulations Title 22 or by contacting a Specialist at 909.386.8401.

Treatment of Hazardous Wastes & Tiered Permitting

Hazardous Waste Treatment is any method, technique or process which changes the physical, chemical, or biological character or composition of any hazardous waste. Treatment is also the removal or reduction of a waste's harmful properties for any purpose including, but not limited to, energy recovery, material recovery or volume reduction. Treatment does NOT include the removal of residues from the manufacturing process equipment for the purposes of cleaning that equipment. Facilities treating or planning to treat hazardous waste on-site must notify the CUPA by completing a Tiered Permitting notification form to obtain appropriate authorization. Questions relating to Tiered Permitting should be directed to a Specialist at 909.386.8401.

Hazardous Waste Generator Responsibilities

Hazardous waste label
  • Clearly label each container of hazardous waste with:
    1. The words "Hazardous Waste"
    2. Contents of the container
    3. Name and address of the generator
    4. Hazardous properties of the waste
    5. Physical state (e.g., liquid, solid, gas)
    6. Starting date for waste accumulation
  • Maintain proper emergency equipment
  • Maintain a current contingency plan
  • Provide training to employees
  • Keep accurate disposal and training records
  • Limit on-site storage to regulatory limits
  • Select appropriate treatment methods for hazardous wastes
  • Use only authorized hazardous waste disposal facilities
  • Whenever possible, eliminate, reduce and recycle wastes
  • Prepare a source reduction plan or checklist as required

For additional information about these requirements contact a Specialist at 909.386.8401.

Recyclable Materials Reporting

cupa photo 6

If your facility recycles any amount of waste (on site or off site) you must complete and submit a Recyclable Materials Reporting Form. This form shows how much, what type, and which recycling method you are using for the material you are recycling. An approved copy of this form must be in our office if you are using recycling to meet the exemption under Tiered Permitting. Contact your inspector for instructions.

SB 14 (Hazardous Waste Source Reduction Plan)

If your facility routinely generates 12,000 kilograms (26,400 pounds or 3,300 gallons) of a hazardous waste in a reporting year (e.g., 2010) you must complete a Source Reduction Evaluation Review and Plan, a Hazardous Waste Management Performance Report, and complete and submit a Summary Progress Report before the following September 1 (e.g., September 1, 2011). These documents will guide you into looking at your facility and finding ways to reduce waste. Exclusions apply to automotive fluids, cleanup soil, and several other types of wastes. Small businesses may complete a shorter form. Go to the web site of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to get more information and the forms and instructions.

Your inspector can answer many general pollution prevention questions, but if you need more information on specific types of pollution prevention for different industries contact the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network.

Universal Waste

Universal wastes are hazardous wastes that are more common, pose a lower risk to people and the environment, and are generated by a wide variety of people rather than by the industrial businesses that primarily generate other hazardous wastes. Federal and State regulations identify universal wastes and provide simple rules for handling, recycling, and disposing of them. The regulations, called the “Universal Waste Rule,” are in the California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Division 4.5, Chapter 23. The most common universal wastes are non-automotive batteries, fluorescent tubes, cathode ray tube (CRT) materials, consumer electronic devices, non-empty aerosol cans, and mercury switches. All universal wastes are hazardous wastes and, without the new rules, they would have to be managed under the same stringent standards as other hazardous wastes. Unlawful disposal of a Universal Waste carries all of the consequences that the unlawful disposal of a hazardous waste in the State of California. More information on managing Universal Wastes is available on the Department of Toxic Substances Control Universal Waste Page.

White tank

Facilities that have cumulative aboveground storage capacities of petroleum products at or exceeding 1,320 gallons are subject to the Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act (APSA). Facilities that are subject to APSA must prepare a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan (SPCC Plan) in accordance with the oil pollution prevention guidelines in the Federal Code of Regulations (40 CFR 112).

Facilities handling petroleum or any other hazardous material require a Business Plan. Both petroleum and non-petroleum aboveground storage tanks are subject to California Fire Code requirements of the authority having fire code jurisdiction. Where San Bernardino County Fire is the fire prevention authority, aboveground storage tanks may require plan check approval from the Community Safety Division.

For more information, please visit the APSA page or contact a subject matter specialist at 909.386.8401.

The Hazardous Materials Division oversees the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Program throughout San Bernardino County. The purpose of this program is to ensure that hazardous substances are not released into the groundwater and/or the environment from UST systems. Specialists annually inspect tank system components and the associated monitoring equipment, as well as inventory records, to ensure that the UST systems comply with applicable laws and regulations.

Construction and Removal of UST Systems

The Hazardous Materials Division oversees the construction (installation, modification, repair) and the removal of UST systems. Prior to commencing site work, project activities require a valid permit and approval of plans. More specifically, plan submittal is required for the following activities:

  • New installations
  • Piping and/or UST upgrade Underground tank
  • Any project that requires breaking or removing concrete/asphalt/soil from over the tank slab/piping trench/dispenser islands
  • Fuel Dispenser replacements
  • Fuel Conversions
  • Cold Start of the Monitoring System
  • Repairs/modifications
  • Replacement or installation of leak detection monitoring panels and/or probes

See the UST Construction Guidelines or UST Removal Guidelines for more details regarding installation/modification/repair and removal requirements.

UST Owner/Operator Responsibilities

  • Maintain appropriate permits and pay annual fees.
  • Comply with applicable laws and regulations set forth in Chapter 6.7 of the California Health & Safety Code and the associated regulations in Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations.
  • Submit required UST-related information and forms via the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS).
  • Maintain and monitor the UST system.
  • Report and remediate all unauthorized releases.

The goal of the San Bernardino County California Accidental Release Prevention (CalARP) program is to reduce risks of regulated substances involving regulated substances through the evaluation of hazards and consequences and the development of Risk Management Plans (RMPs) and Prevention Programs.

Authority: The CalARP program is codified in Chapter 6.95, Article 2 of the California Health and Safety Code and the regulations for this program are in the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 19, Section 2735.1 et seq. The San Bernardino County Fire Department has the authority for this program throughout the 20,000 square mile County.

CalARP requires certain facilities (referred to as "stationary sources") which handle specified chemicals (termed "regulated substances") to take specified actions to proactively prevent and prepare for chemical accidents. The CalARP program replaced the previous existing California Risk Management and Prevention Program after federal EPA instituted the Accidental Release Prevention Program within the Clean Air Act 112(r).

Risk Management Plans (RMP):

A Risk Management Plan requires offsite consequence analysis, evaluation of process hazards, and implementation of an accidental release prevention program. Stationary sources are required to coordinate the development and documentation of the prevention program with the CUPA. The most common regulated substances found in San Bernardino County that require a RMP are chlorine, nitric acid, ammonium hydroxide, and anhydrous ammonia. There are hundreds of other chemicals that may require the RMP at specified threshold quantities. These specific chemicals and their threshold quantities are listed in the Appendix C of the Business Emergency/Contingency Plan Guidelines and Forms or in the CalARP regulations found in CCR Title 19.

Where can I find information on the RMP?

The California Accidental Release Prevention Program regulations and other Statewide information regarding CalARP are located at the web site of the California Office of Emergency Services. Extensive guidance is available from US EPA's web site and these tools are useful for stationary sources preparing RMPs whether they are subject to the federal rule or not.

When is my RMP due?

Facilities with new or modified covered processes are required to prepare Risk Management Plans and implement accident prevention programs before operations commence. The risks related to regulated substances may also trigger additional studies or mitigations for new facilities seeking land use approval. Those facilities that have submitted a RMP previously are required to submit a revised RMP no later than 5 years after the initial RMP submission.

For more information about the San Bernardino County CUPA CalAPR submission process, please contact the CalARP subject matter specialist at 909.386.8401.

The Uniform Fire Code has a provision for the local fire agency to collect information regarding hazardous materials at facilities for purposes of fire code implementation. Due to the demands of local needs, and the significant differences in the purposes and thresholds of UFC information, San Bernardino County Fire unequivocally supports its local fire agencies in their requests for Hazardous Materials Management Plans and Hazardous Material Information Statements. Many fire agencies accept the Business Plan submitted in the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS) towards meeting a portion of this requirement. Some fire agencies require information which is not in the business emergency/contingency plan in order to implement their local fire prevention programs.

Local fire agencies also have separate permitting and plan check requirements from the CUPA for the storage and use of hazardous materials. Facilities within the fire code jurisdiction of San Bernardino County Fire should review the NFPA 704 labeling standards. For questions regarding fire code permitting requirements in the San Bernardino County Fire Department jurisdiction, call our Community Safety Division at 909.386.8400.

Permit Requirements and Fees

Facilities that handle hazardous materials or generate hazardous wastes will require a CUPA permit that includes each applicable CUPA program element. The application process for permits begins with the submission of inventory into the California Environmental Reporting System, also known as CERS. For questions about CERS, please contact the CERS Help Line at 909.386.8432.

When proposing a new or modified facility it is advisable to contact the CUPA, the fire department having jurisdiction for the fire code implementation, the local water and sewering agencies, the air pollution control district, and the local planning and building authorities as early as possible in the planning process. Each of these organizations may have additional requirements for permits and plans.

View the Permit Fees.

How To Prepare For A Facility Inspection

California Health and Safety Code Sections 25185, 25508 and 25280 require CUPAs to inspect facilities that handle hazardous materials and/or generate hazardous wastes and/or operate an underground storage tank. The following should assist you in preparing for your inspection:

  • An unannounced inspection
    • Because of the regulatory nature of our inspections and the uncertain timeframes involved with each facility, you should expect unannounced inspections.
  • Facility walkthrough
    • A general walkthrough of the facility will be conducted to look at processes and storage areas. The Specialist will ask questions regarding facility operations during the walkthrough.
    • Keep areas clean where hazardous materials and wastes are used and stored. Good housekeeping procedures can also prevent workplace injuries, such as slips, trips and falls. Keep all containers labeled and the labels facing out for easy identification and make sure hazardous waste labels are complete.
    • Handling and accumulating hazardous material and waste is serious business. Although you may use these substances everyday, don't become complacent with the proper and safe handling of these hazardous substances. They are called hazardous for a reason. Potential fire, explosions, inhalation hazards and long-term health problems can result from the mishandling of these substances.

  • Records
    • All hazardous material and hazardous waste records (receipts, invoices, hazardous waste manifests, etc.) must be available for review. Photocopies of records are acceptable as long as they are legible and the originals can be produced if needed.
    • All hazardous waste records must be kept for a minimum of three years. Other records that must be available include: employee training records, storage area checklists, underground storage tank records, SPCC plans (for aboveground storage tanks), SB 14, recycling records, Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) and process safety documentation.
  • Exit Interview
    • After the inspection, the Specialist will go over any areas that need correction. A formal report and certificate of compliance will be submitted to you within sixty days of the inspection. Pay close attention to the amount of time given to correct any violations and to submit paperwork that may be required. Failure to correct violations noted may result in legal action. If you can't meet the timeline, contact your Specialist well in advance of the compliance date.

Inspections need not be time consuming or overly intrusive. With your help, our inspectors can complete their inspections and help you and your facility with meeting hazardous material and waste regulations, as well as protecting your employees and making the County a safer place.

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