Hazardous Materials Unit

The California Health and Safety Code defines a Hazardous Material as "any material that because of its quantity, concentration, or physical or chemical characteristics poses a significant present or potential hazard to human health and safety or the environment if released into the workplace or environment." Substances that are flammable, corrosive, reactive, oxidizing, radioactive, combustible, or toxic are considered hazardous.

Because of the broad definition of this law, if a substance is considered hazardous under any other environmental, safety, or transportation law or regulation, it is likely to meet the definition of hazardous material for this law. These include substances that require a Material Safety Data Sheet under worker protection laws, substances that are regulated as hazardous under transportation laws, and substances that are listed as radioactive under federal environmental regulations.

Some common hazardous materials include oil, fuels, paints, thinners, cleaning solvents, compressed gases, radioactive materials, and pesticides.

The Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) regulates facilities that store hazardous materials or generate hazardous wastes. Permits are required for underground storage tank construction, removal, modification, and operation.

When proposing a new or modified business, it is advisable to contact the CUPA, the fire department having jurisdiction for the fire code implementation, the local community services agencies, the air pollution control district, and the local planning and building authorities as early as possible in the planning process.

Each of these organizations may have additional requirements for permits and plans.