Managing Hazardous Waste

We strengthen regulations and streamline waste management

Off-Highway Emergency Removal Program

The Emergency Response Unit (ERU) administers the expenditure of state funds for the purpose of taking immediate corrective action necessary to remedy or prevent an emergency resulting from a fire, explosion, or human exposure to a release or threatened release of hazardous substances. This includes responding to “midnight dumping,” abandonments, spill/release situations involving an unknown responsible party; or other action needed for incident stabilization or to prevent potential emergencies.

The ERU is only involved with Off-Highway incidents. “Off-Highway” refers to hazardous materials incidents which occur off State Highways or State Right-of-Way. Incidents occurring on¬†State Highways or State Right-of-Way are handled by the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) and/or the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

The ERU provides coordination and support to local agencies to mitigate emergency HazMat situations. “Emergency” is defined as a HazMat situation involving a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance where there is a threat to public health and/or the environment. DTSC will work with local agencies, as well as US EPA, in situations where corrective actions may involve costs beyond the capability of local or state government.

DTSC can provide the following types of assistance:

  • Removal of Off-Highway spilled or abandoned hazardous materials where there is no responsible party
  • Stabilization of dangerous HazMat situations where responsible parties are unwilling or unable to pay
  • Supplement the response capabilities of local agencies in disasters and in large HazMat incidents
  • Providing hazard assessment assistance to communities without emergency response capabilities
  • Provide technical assistance
  • Assist in coordinating a multi-agency response

To Request State Assistance

DTSC assistance for Off-Highway removals of hazardous materials may be requested by local health, environmental health, fire, or law enforcement agencies. If you are a business-owner or a private citizen concerned about an emergency hazardous materials incident, abandoned hazardous materials, or if you have some similar concern about hazardous materials, you should contact one of the above-mentioned local government agencies in your area.

To contact the DTSC Emergency Response Duty Officer:

  • Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm, please contact DTSC at (800) 260-3972 or (916) 255-6504.
  • After hours, weekends, or on holidays, please call the Cal OES Warning Control Center at (800) 852-7550 and ask to speak to the DTSC Emergency Response Duty Officer.

Downloadable Documents

A 3,000-gallon container of sulfuric acid discovered adjacent to a highway in the San Joaquin Valley.  DTSC HazMat crews removed the sulfuric acid and transported it offsite for disposal.
Homes and cars destroyed in the San Bruno Gas Pipeline explosion in 2010.  DTSC HazMat crews assisted with removing household hazardous waste from homes destroyed by the pipeline explosion.
DTSC Emergency Response staff collecting samples from an abandoned tank located in a field in Lake County, California.