Department of Toxic Substances Control Department of Toxic Substances Control

Kettleman Hills Facility Enforcement

DTSC conducts an unannounced Comprehensive Evaluation Inspection every year at the Kettleman Hills Facility (Facility) to determine if the facility is operating in compliance with hazardous waste laws and regulations. Inspections are also meant to ensure that the facility follows the conditions of the DTSC approved permit.

Recent inspections in 2010 through 2012 conducted jointly by US EPA and DTSC documented a number of violations. These violations include:

  • Failure of the Facility’s on-site laboratory to follow required procedures for analyzing hazardous waste;
  • Failure to determine whether two bins of hazardous waste met standards prior to disposal to make sure that it will not migrate when exposed to water in a landfill;  
  • Storing hazardous waste in open containers;
  • Failure to report a manifest discrepancy in a timely manner, and;
  • Failure to report 72 releases of hazardous waste and hazardous compounds to the Department.

Violations associated with the storage of waste in open containers have been corrected. US EPA and DTSC continue to work with the Kettleman Hills Facility to ensure the laboratory meets all requirements for effective and safe operation. Movement toward resolution continues on two other violations.

On November 15, 2012, DTSC announced enforcement actions against the Facility for failing to report hazardous waste spills or releases on its property.  DTSC cited 72 violations. 

On March 27, 2013, DTSC fined Waste Management a total of $311,194 to settle these 72 violations and others. Waste Management has paid the total.  The agreement also makes clear all reporting requirements that the landfill must follow in the future. In addition, DTSC requires Waste Management and the landfill to follow all treatment standards and shipping requirements.

The 72 spills mostly occurred in the unloading and sampling areas of the Facility, where trucks from around the state carrying both hazardous and non-hazardous material arrive to offload. Examples of wastes spilled include herbicides, lead contaminated soil, PCBs, and other chemicals. These relatively small spills were quickly cleaned up and there is no evidence to suggest that the violations posed any danger to nearby communities, landfill workers or the environment.

All of the 72 spills, which occurred during June 2008 – 2012, were contained on site. In most cases, the spills were less than five pounds. Although the spills were small in volume and did not result in impacts to anyone outside of the landfill, the landfill permit requires that DTSC be notified so that spill cleanup can be documented. This requirement also helps DTSC evaluate how well the Facility operates routinely.

In April 2012, during a regular inspection, DTSC discovered that the Kettleman Hills Facility had created an internal record of spills but had failed to notify DTSC.  The current permit requires verbal notification within 24 hours of a hazardous waste spill, and written notification within 10 days of the discovery of the release.

In May 2011, DTSC ordered Chemical Waste Management (the operator of the landfill) to pay $46,000 in penalties for a similar failure to report releases of hazardous waste and/or hazardous waste constituents.