Kettleman Hills Facility Compliance
Annually, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) conducts one Compliance Evaluation Inspection (CEI) and up to two Focused Compliance Inspections (FCI) at Chemical Waste Management – Kettleman Hills Facility (Facility) to determine if the Facility is operating in compliance with hazardous waste control laws and regulations, as well as the DTSC issued Permit. These inspections are unannounced. DTSC also evaluates the Facility’s financial assurance for closure and post-closure care with a Financial Records Review each year.
DTSC conducted a CEI in March 2018 and cited two minor violations for failing to check the rejection box on one manifest and for one open container of used oil filters. DTSC rescinded the minor for one open container of used oil filters. The Facility corrected the remaining violation in April 2018. DTSC conducted a Financial Records Review in April 2018 and two FCI’s in June and September 2018. DTSC did not find any violations during these inspections.
DTSC conducted a CEI in February 2017 and cited one minor violation for failing to label one drum of purged well water. The Facility corrected this violation during the inspection. DTSC conducted a Financial records review in March 2017; a groundwater audit in May 2017; and two FCI’s in May 2017 and August 2017. DTSC did not find any violations during these inspections.
DTSC conducted a CEI in February 2016. One minor violation was noted for failing to enter a California waste code on one hazardous waste manifest. This minor violation was corrected within two days of the inspection. DTSC conducted a Financial Records Review in February 2016 and a FCI in September 2016 focusing on the ambient air monitoring program. DTSC did not find any violations during these inspections.
DTSC conducted a non-financial records review in October 2016 of the groundwater monitoring records. DTSC issued a Statement of Violations to the Facility for failing to collect groundwater samples in 2014 and 2015 for all the chemicals required under their site-specific groundwater monitoring plan. The prosecution of these violations is still ongoing.
DTSC conducted a CEI in March 2015 and cited one minor violation for failing to completely fill out a hazardous waste manifest used to track hazardous waste from generation to disposal. The Facility failed to enter the hazardous waste management method code in box 19 on two manifests and the appropriate unit volume in box 12 on one manifest. The Facility corrected this violation by June 2015.
DTSC conducted a Financial Records Review in April 2015 and two focused compliance inspections in September 2015 and December 2015. DTSC did not find any violations during these inspections.
The Facility self-disclosed to DTSC in October 2015 that they stored hazardous waste containing polychlorinated biphenyls in a one-gallon container one week over the 30-day storage limit. The hazardous waste was stored in an accumulation area designed to store PCB wastes and included secondary containment. The hazardous waste was immediately moved to the proper storage area. DTSC issued a minor violation for this incident.
DTSC conducted a Groundwater Audit Review in February 2014; a CEI in March 2014; a Financial Records Review in August 2014; and two focused compliance inspections in September and December 2014. DTSC did not find any violations during these inspections.
The Facility self-disclosed a violation in February 2014. The Facility informed DTSC that hazardous waste that did not meet treatment standards (as specified by the regulations and statutes for disposal to the ground) was disposed into a landfill cell. This was caused by erroneous analytical results from a state-certified laboratory. The Facility removed the hazardous waste exceeding treatment standards from their landfill on March 29, 2014 and re-treated this waste. A third-party contract laboratory confirmed the treated waste met treatment standards. In addition, the Facility and the contract laboratory evaluated other analytical results and confirmed no other hazardous waste disposed of in the landfill exceeded treatment standards. Based on the facts presented, DTSC found this violation did not warrant a penalty or enforcement action.
DTSC conducted a CEI in April 2013 and a Financial Records Review in May 2013. DTSC did not find any violations during these inspections.
Significant violations cited by DTSC prior to 2003 were reviewed, including the 1988 landfill slope failure, and none were found to merit consideration for denial of the Permit modification request. DTSC found that, while of concern, these violations do not represent a repeating or recurring pattern showing an unwillingness or inability to comply, nor that they pose a threat to public health or safety or the environment.
Through a document request dated June 29, 2012, DTSC found 72 instances where the Facility failed to report spills of hazardous waste at the Facility. This violation was a repeat from a violation found in a February 2010 inspection. DTSC took enforcement against the Facility in 2010 for failure to report spills and for these more recent reporting violations (along with two other violations) in March 2013. The March 2013 enforcement action resulted in a monetary settlement of $311,194.
DTSC reviewed the circumstances surrounding the 72 small spills that the Facility failed to report, including the size, location, offsite consequences, cleanup response, and causes of these spills. Of the 72 spills, the largest spill was estimated at 5-8 gallons, and 13 spills were less than a pint. The largest number of spills involved non-RCRA hazardous waste between a quart and a gallon. Most of these spills (60 out of 72) occurred at the sample rack, where the Facility samples incoming loads for analysis. During the time frame of these spills (August 2008 – May 2012), the Facility received over 54,000 manifested shipments of hazardous waste. The sample rack now has secondary containment, providing additional environmental protection for future spills.
In an inspection in April 2012, DTSC found two significant violations. One was a failure to resolve a manifest discrepancy within 15 days of discovery. The other was the Facility’s failure to properly treat a shipment of hazardous waste to meet land disposal restriction (LDR) requirements prior to placement in the landfill. There was also one minor paperwork violation for failure to properly complete a waste treatment and disposal form. These violations were also addressed in the enforcement settlement in March 2013.
DTSC conducted a Financial Records Review in June 2012. No violations were found. DTSC conducted a groundwater Operation and Maintenance Inspection in February 2012. No violations were found.
In February 2010, DTSC and US EPA jointly inspected the Facility. Both agencies looked at compliance with hazardous waste management requirements. US EPA evaluated compliance with the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, which includes regulation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). DTSC cited the Facility for failure to notify DTSC of spills, as noted above, and finalized an enforcement action on June 14, 2011, which included a $46,000 penalty.
DTSC conducted a CEI in September 2009 and a Financial Responsibility Review in March and October of 2009. DTSC did not find any violations during these inspections.
DTSC conducted a CEI in October 2008. DTSC did not find any violations during this inspection.
Further details on DTSC inspections, and links to inspection and enforcement documents can be found on DTSC’s EnviroStor database.
United States Environmental Protection Agency
US EPA also conducts inspections in of the Facility. Information on US EPA inspections may be found on their website.