What is a "Hazardous Material"?
A "Hazardous Material" is any material that, when it escapes its container, could cause harm to life or health, the environment, or property. Examples of hazardous materials include flammable and combustible materials, corrosives, explosives, oxidizers, poisons, materials that react violently with water, radioactive materials, biological materials, etc. Note that a "Hazardous Material" is not the same as a "Toxic Waste".
Who regulates the use of hazardous materials in my business?
There are many areas of the Uniform Fire Code that address the use and storage of hazardous materials in a business. These regulations are enforced by the Fire Prevention Division of the Fire District (ph. (909) 902-5280). Other regulations involving hazardous materials are found in the California Health and Safety Code, and in Titles 19, 22, 26 and 27 of the California Code of Regulations. Many of these regulations are enforced by the Hazardous Materials Division of the San Bernardino County Fire Department (ph. 909 387-4631). This includes the Hazardous Materials Disclosure Program, where business report on the inventory of hazardous materials kept at their business.
What is a "Hazardous Waste"?
A "Hazardous Waste" is simply a hazardous material you don't want anymore. If a hazardous material is disposed of, that makes it a hazardous waste. If a hazardous material is spilled, and cannot be effectively picked up and used as a product, it is considered to be a hazardous waste. If a hazardous material sits unused, and it is obvious there is no realistic intent to use the material, it is considered to be a hazardous waste. Hazardous wastes are only allowed to stay on your site for a certain amount of time (normally 90 days) before being disposed of through a registered hazardous waste contractor.
Who regulates the storage and disposal of hazardous wastes at my business?
The Hazardous Waste Program is operated by the Hazardous Materials Division of the San Bernardino County Fire Department (ph. 909 387-4631).
Are there liabilities in how I dispose of hazardous waste for my business?
Yes. There are three legal ways to get rid of a hazardous waste. It can be recycled, incinerated, or placed in a hazardous waste dump. We recommend recycling whenever possible. It is usually the cheapest method, and often results in no residual liabilities at all.
The second method is incineration, via a facility licensed for the incineration of that type of hazardous waste. If through the incineration process the hazardous waste is completely destroyed with no hazardous residual, your liability is completely eliminated. If there is a hazardous residual product, that product generally has to be stored in a hazardous waste dump, but the quantity remaining is normally far less than the original amount of hazardous waste with which you started.
The third method is placement in a hazardous waste dump. While this method generally costs only about ½ the cost of incineration, it includes with it some long-term liabilities you may not be aware of. Federal law requires that, when a hazardous waste dump becomes full, the dump must close and be cleaned up (made non-hazardous). Toward that end, every hazardous waste dump operator is required to place a $1 million bond with the Federal Government to help pay for the clean-up. However, most hazardous waste dumps cost more than $50 million to clean up to EPA's standards. Where does this money come from, especially if the dump operator files bankruptcy? Under court rulings, this money comes from everyone who put hazardous wastes in that dump. Furthermore, under the doctrine of Joint and Several Liability, if some of those people have gone out of business or don't have the ability to pay, everyone else who put hazardous wastes in the dump and do have the ability to pay have to pick up the costs of those who can't pay. This liability can be substantially avoided by having your hazardous wastes either recycled or incinerated. However, if you do have to put wastes in a hazardous waste dump, it is highly recommended that you put all such wastes into the same dump, so you don't end up buying liability for several hazardous waste dumps. Note that hazardous waste transporters will suggest hazardous waste dumps for you to use, but the final decision as to where your hazardous wastes will go is up to you. Choose wisely. For more information on the legal issues involved, it is suggested you consult with an attorney specializing in environmental law.
How do I get rid of household hazardous waste?
The City of Chino, in cooperation with the County of San Bernardino, runs a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility at the Public Works Services Center at 5050 Schaefer Avenue in Chino. You can take your household hazardous wastes there. It is open the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. If you cannot bring your hazardous wastes during these hours, please call (909) 590-5526 to make special arrangements. Note that this center does not take hazardous wastes from businesses, only from households. It is open to any County resident, not just residents of the City of Chino.
How do I get rid of hazardous waste from a business?
You can contact a registered hazardous waste transporter (see the Business to Business Yellow Pages), or request a listing of about 30 hazardous waste contractors from the Fire Prevention Division by calling (909) 902-5280.
Another alternative, if your business generates less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month (100 kilograms), is to call San Bernardino County at 1-800-OILY CAT. They have what is called a "Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator" (CESQG) program that allows them to collect such wastes from businesses for a fee. Their fees are often less than those charged by commercial hazardous waste contractors. Call them for more information.
How do I get rid of left-over paint?
If you only have an inch or two of paint left in the can, and it is water-based paint, there is an easy answer for you. (You can tell if it is water based paint by looking at the clean-up directions on the paint can. If it says to clean up your tools with water, it's water based). Take the can outside to a well-ventilated area, pry the top off the can, and let it sit there for a few days. The water in the paint will evaporate, leaving a solid cake in the bottom of the can. When the cake is hard and not runny, you can legally throw the paint can away in the regular trash. Just don't put the lid back on the can, or the Refuse Workers will think it is still liquid paint and will not take it.
If you have a can that contains more than one or two inches of paint, or if the paint is not water based, take the paint to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility operated by the City of Chino and San Bernardino County. (For more information, see the answer to the question "How do I get rid of household hazardous waste?")
How do I get rid of waste oil?
You can take waste oil to a major auto parts supply, such as Pep Boys, Chief Auto Parts, Kragen Auto Parts, Star Auto Parts, etc. (Call them first to make sure they are still participating in the oil recycling program). You can also take waste oil to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility operated by the City of Chino and San Bernardino County. (For more information, see the answer to the question "How do I get rid of household hazardous waste?")
By the way, never dump your waste oil onto the ground or into the trash! The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 90% of the oil disposed of by do-it-yourself oil changers is improperly disposed of, and puts into the ground enough oil to equal 27 spills of the Exxon Valdez every year! The waste oil that gets into the ground often migrates into the underground aquifers from where we pump much of our drinking water. It only takes 1 gallon of waste oil to make 50,000 gallons of clean water undrinkable. Think about that the next time you change your own oil.