Managing Hazardous Waste

We strengthen regulations and streamline waste management

Violations Scoring Procedure

Background

The violations scoring procedure (VSP) regulations found at California Code of Regulations, title 22, sections 66271.50 through 66271.57, took effect on January 1, 2019.  The VSP regulations apply to all operating permitted hazardous waste facilities, except for those facilities solely authorized under a post-closure permit or order, or a permit or permit modification for closure only.

The VSP regulations encapsulates the totality of the criteria and steps that govern the consideration of a facility’s compliance history by DTSC in making specified permit decisions and the remedies available to an owner or operator in response to decisions proposed or made by DTSC.

Inspection Violation Scores

An inspection violation score is the sum of the scores for all Class I violations and Class II violations that meet the definition of a Class I violation as specified in California Code of Regulations, title 22, section 66260.10 found during a compliance inspection, including any adjustments for repeat violations.  (California Code of Regulations, title 22, sections 66271.51, 662710.52.) For compliance inspections that occur before January 1, 2019, the VSP regulations require DTSC to provide operating permitted hazardous waste facilities with all inspection violation scores at the time DTSC issues the facility’s Facility VSP Score and compliance tier assignment. For compliance inspections that occur after January 1, 2019, the VSP regulations require DTSC to provide operating permitted hazardous waste facilities with a provisional inspection violation score concurrent with the inspection report for the compliance inspection.  Inspection violation scores issued in both instances are considered provisional and become final only (1) if the facility does not timely file a dispute, or (2) with the dispute resolution official’s written decision.  The Facility VSP Score consists of the sum of the provisional or final inspection violation scores for each compliance inspection conducted during the proceeding ten-year period, divided by the number of such inspections.

Facility VSP Score and Compliance Tiers

By September 30th of each calendar year, DTSC shall issue a Facility VSP Score to all permitted operating hazardous waste facilities.  Concurrent with the Facility VSP Score, DTSC will also provide provisional and final inspection violation scores used to calculate the Facility VSP Score and compliance tier assignment (California Code of Regulations, title 22, section 66271.54(c-d)).  Inspection violation scores are calculated by DTSC using a Violation Scoring Matrix.  DTSC will issue a letter to each facility with the provisional inspection violation score for each compliance inspection conducted during the preceding ten-year period, the Facility VSP Score, and the facility’s compliance tier assignment. A copy of the Violation Scoring Matrix will also be provided.

Based upon the Facility VSP Score, DTSC will assign the facility to one of three compliance tiers:

  • “Acceptable” – Facility VSP Score of less than 20.
  • “Conditionally Acceptable” – Facility VSP Score equal to or greater than 20 and less than 40.
  • “Unacceptable” – Facility VSP Score equal to or greater than 40.

The compliance tier assignments for facilities that are assigned to an “acceptable” or “conditionally acceptable” compliance tier based on their Facility VSP Scores are final when all inspection violation scores on which the Facility VSP Score is based are also final pursuant to California Code of Regulations, title 22, section 66271.53, subd. (d). A final compliance tier assignment of “acceptable” or “conditionally acceptable” is not subject to additional administrative dispute resolution. (See California Code of Regulations, title 22, section 66271.54, subd. (e)).

DTSC will post all Facility VSP Scores and compliance tier assignments to DTSC’s website by December 31st of each calendar year.

2019 Facility VSP Scores and Compliance Tier Assignments

Updated as of 05/09/2019
FACILITY NAMEEPA IDENTIFICATION #FACILITY VSP SCORECOMPLIANCE TIER ASSIGNMENT
Scores Forthcoming

DTSC will post a revised Facility VSP score within 90 days from the issuance of the written decision of the dispute resolution official.

Dispute Process

The VSP regulations outline the dispute process pursuant to which an owner or operator of an operating permitted hazardous waste facility may dispute a provisional inspection violation score and request a one-time extension to submit a dispute document to DTSC (California Code of Regulations, title 22, section 66271.53(c)).

Provisional inspection violation scores become final:

Hazardous Waste Facility Permit Decisions

Permit Decisions

DTSC conducts a complete review of a facility’s compliance history when making a decision to issue, deny, revoke, suspend, or modify a permit. DTSC’s review includes but is not limited to:
  • The facility’s final compliance tier assignment based on the Facility VSP Score and all Class I violations and provisional and final inspection violation scores used to calculate the Facility VSP Score;
  • Class II and minor violations not quantified as part of the Facility VSP Score;
  • The facility’s compliance with any permits, applicable orders, stipulations, agreements, settlement documents, judgments, decree, grants of authorization, or other documents establishing requirements upon operations at the facility; hazardous waste laws and regulations; and any other applicable environmental laws and regulation;
  • The disclosure statement pursuant to Health and Safety Code sections 25112.5 and 25200.4;
  • The facility’s safety record;
  • The facility’s compliance with financial assurance or liability coverage requirements for closure, post-closure, or corrective action pursuant to article 8 of chapters 14 and 15 of CCR division 4.5 of the California Code of Regulations;
  • Information in audit reports provided to DTSC pursuant to the requirements of California Code of Regulations, title 22, sections 66271.56 and 66271.57; and
  • Any other information allowed by law.

The review of a facility’s compliance history also includes a review of the following information to the extent it is readily available to DTSC:

  • The owner’s or operator’s knowledge or intent in the commission of any violations;
  • The record of complaints received against the facility, including the facility’s record of resolving such complaints;
  • violations by the facility of requirements of other federal, state, or local environmental agencies; and
  • The facility’s record with regard to returning to compliance, and cooperation with the Department.

Requirements for a Facility Assigned to a “Conditionally Acceptable” Compliance Tier

Third-Party Compliance Audits

The owner or operator of a facility that receives a final “conditionally acceptable” compliance tier assignment shall retain a third-party auditor to conduct facility compliance audits and submit reports to DTSC documenting the audits. An owner or operator of a federal facility may prepare and submit a facility self-disclosure audit report to DTSC and use an internal auditor in lieu of a third-party auditor; but are otherwise subject to these requirements.

The VSP regulations in California Code of Regulations, title 22, section 66271.56, subparagraphs (a)(1)(A)1.-5. outline the procedures for a facility to select, and DTSC to approve, third-party auditors, and the required qualifications of auditors.

The audits must include all of the following:
  • A complete description and discussion of all audit objectives, audit criteria, audit activities, audit findings and conclusions, recommendations, and all evidence relied upon to support the audit conclusions;
  • A complete inspection and review of all facility operations related to hazardous waste and all monitoring, records, reports, and other information necessary to evaluate and determine facility compliance with all terms of the facility’s hazardous waste facility permit, and all applicable hazardous waste laws, regulations, and orders;
  • Sampling and testing of potentially hazardous materials as necessary to determine compliance with all terms of the facility’s hazardous waste facility permit, and all applicable hazardous waste laws, regulations, and orders;
  • A complete description of the inspections(s) completed, a summary of all sampling and testing conducted and associated results, and discussion of all information reviewed;
  • Review of all safety practices and identification of all accidents in the preceding one (1) year, and any unsafe practices or conditions observed that could lead to accidents;
  • A brief description of any written advisements or determination of violations, including, but not limited to, Notices of Violation and inspection reports directed to the facility by any local, state, or federal agency that identifies any violation of any hazardous waste facility requirement; and
  • Discussion of all findings and deficiencies related to facility; and compliance, including identification of all instances of noncompliance.

The owner or operator shall submit at least two audit reports: one no later than 270 days after notification of compliance tier and the second no earlier than 180 days and no later than one (1) year after the first.

Compliance Implementation Plan

The owner or operator shall submit a corresponding compliance implementation plan describing all actions needed to correct all deficiencies and addresses and all findings identified in the audit report.  This includes all permits and permit modifications required by DTSC and any other federal, state, or local agency to implement the actions. The compliance implementation plan must include deadlines for all actions to correct deficiencies.

DTSC may impose other requirements imposing a shorter operating period for the facility’s permit, restricting or prohibiting hazardous waste management activities, imposing additional conditions, and imposing mitigation including community benefit agreements or projects, or any other action to reduce impacts or alleviate adverse conditions caused by the facility’s noncompliance.

Requirements for a Facility Assigned to an “Unacceptable” Compliance Tier

For a facility assigned to an “unacceptable” compliance tier, DTSC must initiate a process to deny, suspend, or revoke a permit.

Following the initiation of the process to deny, suspend, or revoke a permit, DTSC may grant a permit or permit modification or otherwise resolve a pending permit action against a facility only if DTSC makes the written findings based on substantial evidence that the facility will not pose a threat to public health or safety or the environment and that:

The owner or operator has implemented improvements to its operation that will prevent future violations; AND

There are substantial and overriding benefits to the people of the State of California resulting from the continued operation of the facility.

The following additional terms shall be required of any such permit:

The permit shall not exceed 5 years;

The permit must include enhanced compliance provisions, including compliance audits; and

The permit must include mitigation measures for all potential harm associated with non-compliant activities.

In addition, DTSC shall order the facility to:

  • Conduct audits in compliance with California Code of Regulations, title 22, section 66271.56;
  • Conduct additional training as necessary to improve facility operations and compliance;
  • Implement facility improvements related to the causes of the facility’s noncompliance with its permit and applicable orders, stipulations, agreements, settlements, judgments, decrees, grants of authorization, or other documents establishing requirements upon operations at the facility including repairing, replacing, or augmenting hazardous waste management units, equipment, devices, or secondary containment;
  • Restrict or ceasing the operation of a hazardous waste management unit that is the basis of the facility’s violations;
  • Conduct public participation and community engagement activities, including, but not limited to, public information meetings with the surrounding community and distribution of fact sheets or community updates, addressing the facility’s compliance issues and return to compliance; and
  • Increase or expand facility monitoring, record keeping, and/or reporting.
Challenge Process

An owner or operator of a facility assigned to an “unacceptable” compliance tier may challenge the “unacceptable” compliance tier assignment within 60 days of DTSC’s written notice.  The owner or operator must demonstrate, in writing:

  • The owner or operator is able to operate the facility, and the facility, as constructed, can be operated, in compliance with the terms and conditions of its permit, applicable orders, stipulations, agreements, settlement documents, judgments, decrees, grants of authorization, and other documents establishing requirements upon operations at the facility, hazardous waste laws and regulations, and any other applicable environmental laws and regulations;
  • The owner’s or operator’s continued operation of the facility is unlikely to adversely affect human health, safety, or the environment;
  • The facility’s compliance with financial assurance or liability coverage requirements for closure, post-closure, or corrective action, as applicable;
  • One or more audit reports demonstrates:
    • An ongoing pattern of compliance with applicable hazardous waste management requirements; and
    • Full implementation of actions to correct deficiencies and address findings of prior audits.
Public Meeting

DTSC must hold a public meeting regarding the challenge to the facility’s compliance tier assignment. Within 60 days of receipt of the owner’s or operator’s written challenge, DTSC shall send out a written notice regarding the time and place of the public meeting.  At the public meeting, DTSC will present the grounds for assigning the facility an “unacceptable” compliance tier, the owner or operator may present its opposition, and the public shall have an opportunity to submit comments.

Within 60 days of the date of the public meeting, DTSC shall issue a written decision regarding the owner’s or operator’s change to the facility’s “unacceptable” compliance tier assignment.  If DTSC upholds the facility’s “unacceptable” compliance tier assignment, DTSC’s written decision constitutes the facility’s final “unacceptable” compliance tier assignment.  DTSC’s written decision will also notify the owner or operator of DTSC’s decision to initiate the process to deny, suspend, or revoke the facility’s permit.

DTSC may make a determination that changes the facility’s compliance tier assignment to “conditionally acceptable”.

If an owner or operator does not challenge the facility’s compliance tier assignment, the facility’s “unacceptable” compliance tier assignment will become final 60 days after DTSC’s written notice.

Contacts

Submit inquiries regarding violation scoring procedures to the VSP Inbox. Submit dispute related inquiries to the VSP Dispute Inbox.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this web page is meant to summarize or describe some of the provisions of the amended regulations using plain language. Nothing on this page replaces or amends any regulatory requirements or any other part of the California Code of Regulations or the California Health and Safety Code.