Managing Hazardous Waste

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Emergency Guidance on Wildfires #2 Fact Sheet

Last Updated: August 24, 2020

Management Options for Expedited Collection of Hazardous Wastes from Burned Areas

Given the extent of the fire disaster in your area and the need for rapid recovery, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has prepared this fact sheet to guide persons in the impacted areas in managing hazardous waste(s) separated from fire ash and debris.

Types of Hazardous Waste Expected

This fact sheet is intended to guide the reader in management of hazardous wastes separated from ash and other fire debris in the fire emergency areas. See the fact sheet entitled “DTSC Emergency Guidance on Wildfires #1, Handling Ash, Debris and other Hazardous Materials from Burned Structures.” In cases when hazardous materials have been burned to the point that they are indistinguishable from other burned materials, all of the burned matter should be managed as general fire debris. Likewise, burned hazardous wastes that cannot be safely removed and separated should be managed in the same manner as other non-hazardous ash and fire debris.

The following information is for hazardous wastes which are distinguishable and can be safely separated from ash and other fire debris.


Household hazardous wastes will be found in conditions ranging from fully burned to untouched. Examples of these wastes include:

  • Cathode ray tubes “CRTs” (picture tubes) from televisions and computer monitors and other electronic devices
  • Paints, solvents, non-empty aerosol cans
  • Pesticides, fertilizers, and pool chemicals
  • Household batteries
  • Automotive fluids: Used and unused oil, unburned fuels, anti-freeze, lead acid batteries
  • Asbestos siding, pipe insulation, and tiles
  • Lead-based paint and/or treated wood debris
  • Mercury-containing thermometers, gauges, and switches
  • Compressed gas cylinders: Pro-pane and LPG, oxygen, welding gases
  • Ammunition and ammunition reloading supplies

Small Businesses:

Many small businesses are likely to have hazardous waste. Condition of the wastes will range from fully combusted to virtually undamaged. Potential hazardous materials that may be associated with various businesses include:

  • Automotive Service and Supply Businesses: Fluids including used and new oil, antifreeze, solvents,paints and thinners; lead-acid storage batteries.
  • Pool Chemical Supply: Muriatic acid, oxidizers, chelating agents.
  • Hardware and Home and Garden Supply: Paints, paint thinners, adhesives and strippers, batteries, solvents, cleaning products, pool chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers.
  • General Businesses: CRTs from computers and security cameras,battery backup units, small electronic devices.
  • Sporting Goods: Ammunition, reloading supplies.

Industrial Businesses:

Larger businesses that have been impacted must be examined on an individual basis. For further information call the Regulatory Assistance Office at (800) 72TOXIC.

General Waste Management:

While removing debris, home and business owners should remove white goods (appliances), automobile bodies, and other recyclable materials to the extent that is practical in order to avoid filling disposal sites with large objects that can be recycled as scrap metal. Likewise, concrete and other inorganic wastes may be segregated and recycled as aggregate for new concrete. Contact you local solid waste agency for further information.

Contractor Duties:

Firms clearing land under contract to homeowners or businesses have the same responsibilities for proper waste management under the law as the home and business owners. This fact sheet also applies to contractors.

Identification Number:

A hazardous waste facility identification number will be issued and is to be used by household collection agencies and other government agencies (and their contractors) for shipping hazardous wastes generated in the disaster.

Management Options for Hazardous Wastes Removed from Debris

Indistinguishable Hazardous Materials and Materials that cannot be Safely Separated from Other Ash and Fire Debris at Residential Properties and Small Businesses:

These materials should be managed along with the ash and other debris. They may be taken to a municipal solid waste landfill. Care should be taken to avoid generation of dust by misting and covering loads or using bins with lids. For further information, see the fact sheet entitled “DTSC Emergency Guidance on Wildfires #1, Handling Ash, Debris and other Hazardous Materials from Burned Structures.”

Emergency Situations:

Unstable situations may be addressed without any further authorization by removal or treatment of hazardous waste under the emergency response exemption from the usual hazardous waste permitting requirements (22 CCR 66270.1(c)(3)(A)). Under this exemption, released wastes may be cleaned up, wastes in damaged containers or tanks may be re-packaged, and wastes that pose an imminent and substantial risk may be treated to remove the immediate hazard. Examples include, but are not limited to, pumping and repackaging of wastes from fire damaged tanks and neutralization of acids or alkalis contained in damaged tanks and containers. In emergencies such as the circumstances described here, no permit or other authorization is needed to take care of these wastes. There is also no notification required in these instances.

Universal Waste:

Universal wastes expected to be found include non-automotive batteries, CRTs, fluorescent and streetlight-type lamps, mercury thermostats, and small electronic devices.

No authorization is needed to collect, trans-port, and accumulate universal wastes. Household hazardous waste collection agencies may collect these materials and may set up collection routes and locations without any additional authorization. The household hazardous waste collection agency is acting as a “small quantity handler of universal waste” (22, CCR, 66273.10 et seq.). To dispose of universal wastes, call the appropriate household hazardous waste agency. (See below)

Household Hazardous Waste:

Household hazardous wastes are collected and managed by local household hazardous waste agencies.

Authorization for Household Hazardous Waste Collections:

Both permanent and temporary household hazardous waste collection facilities are authorized by the appropriate Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA), and can be authorized on an expedited basis if there is no previously authorized household hazardous waste collection facility in a particular area.

Special Household Hazardous Waste Programs:

Household hazardous waste agencies can conduct mobile, door to door, and curbside collections in the affected areas upon issuance of a variance by DTSC from hazardous waste transporter and facility requirements. DTSC will expedite variance approvals for affected areas as needed and as appropriate. For variances please contact Ryan Batty at (916) 823-7617.

Situation after hours that must be handled immediately, call the CUPA if they have a 24-hour number or contact the State Office of Emergency Services (OES) Warning Center at 1 (800) 852-7550 for 24 hour response; the OES Warning Center will pass the information on to DTSC as quickly as possible.

Small Business Hazardous Waste:

State law allows small businesses to bring hazardous waste to household hazardous waste collection facilities as “small quantity commercial sources.” The wastes may be self-transported in small quantities, transported by a registered hazardous waste hauler, or transported by a collection agency that has received a variance from the hazardous waste transportation requirements. For a local agency to obtain such a variance, see “Special Household Hazardous Waste Programs” above.

Industrial Hazardous Waste:

Industrial generators of hazardous waste have at least 90 days to store hazardous waste onsite in tanks or containers prior to offsite shipment. Extensions are possible – contact the appropriate CUPA to request an extension to the allowed accumulation time. Imminent hazards may be addressed with-out authorization under the emergency response exemption– see “Emergency Situations” above.

Emergency Permits:

If special accumulation, treatment, or storage facilities must be established to respond to wastes from industrial businesses, DTSC is authorized to issue emergency hazardous waste facility permits over the telephone followed by the subsequent formal authorization process (22 CCR, 66270.61). For further information, please call Michael Choe at (916) 255- 3635 from 8:00am to 5:00pm. If you have an emergency situation after hours, call the OES Warning Center at (800) 852-7550 for 24 hour response; the warning center will pass the information on to DTSC as quickly as possible.

DTSC Emergency Response Resources:

Upon request by a state or local agency, DTSC may dispatch emergency response contractors to address imminent hazards. Local agencies should follow procedures in place for requesting emergency assistance in disaster situations, e.g., the county must contact the OES Regional Emergency Operations Center and request assistance.

Requests for Assistance:

In general, all requests for assistance should be made through the County to the OES REOC to ensure that reimbursement is available for the activity. These requests will be forwarded to the appropriate State agency.


Following are contacts for hazardous waste agencies:

DTSC Contact Information: