Managing Hazardous Waste

We strengthen regulations and streamline waste management

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

DTSC Projects Under CEQA Review*:

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) applies to all discretionary projects proposed to be conducted or approved by a California public agency, including private projects requiring discretionary government approval. The purpose of CEQA is to:

  • Inform governmental decision makers and the public about the potential, significant environmental effects of proposed activities.
  • Identify ways that environmental damage can be avoided or significantly reduced.
  • Prevent significant, avoidable damage to the environment by requiring changes in projects through the use of alternatives or mitigation measures when the governmental agency finds the changes to be feasible.
  • Disclose to the public the reasons why a governmental agency approved the project in the manner the agency chose if significant environmental effects are involved.”

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is subject to the requirements of CEQA because it carries out and approves various hazardous waste-related projects that have the potential to impact the environment. These projects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Remedial Investigations
  • Interim Removals
  • Removal Action Workplans
  • Remedial Action Plans
  • Initial Permits
  • Corrective Action Determinations
  • Permit Modifications
  • Permit Renewals
  • Closure Plans
  • Post-Closure Plans
  • Variances
  • Regulation Development

As a Lead Agency (the agency with principal responsibility for carrying out or approving a project), DTSC complies with CEQA by conducting a preliminary environmental impact evaluation. The evaluation determines if a project, subject to its approval, is statutorily or categorically exempt from CEQA, or if further environmental review in the form of an Initial Study is required.  The Initial Study serves to document the supporting data and information used in concluding that:

 

  1.  the project will not have a significant effect on the environment and that a Negative Declaration (ND) is appropriate, or
  2.  with mitigation measures incorporated that the project will not have a significant effect upon the environment and that a Mitigated   Negative Declaration (MND) is appropriate, or
  3.  the project will have a significant effect upon the environment and that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) should be prepared to further analyze the effects.

DTSC issues the draft ND, MND, or EIR with supporting data and information at the same time it releases draft project documents to the public and agencies for review and comment. DTSC considers all received comments before it makes a final determination on the project. When appropriate, DTSC considers and incorporates substantive evidence included with public and agency comments into the final ND, MND, or EIR.

When DTSC acts as a Responsible Agency (has permitting authority or approval power over some aspect of the overall project for which another agency is the Lead Agency for CEQA purposes) it complies with CEQA by reviewing and commenting on environmental documents prepared by the Lead Agency. DTSC considers the Final ND, MND, or EIR prepared by the Lead Agency and concludes whether to approve the aspects of the project subject to its approval.

The CEQA Units (Site Mitigation and Restoration Program-Cleanup and the Hazardous Waste Management Program-Permitting) provide technical assistance to DTSC project managers in the preparation, review, approval, and public noticing of CEQA documents for various permitting, cleanup, and regulation projects.  The CEQA Units also process outside agency environmental documents submitted to DTSC for its review by other agencies through the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research/State Clearinghouse.

*Please note that not all public notices and public comment periods for DTSC project documents directly correspond to a public review and comment period for compliance with CEQA. Please read the specific public notice to identify which documents are available for public review comment.