California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

LEA Advisory #17—September 26, 1994

Nuisance Dumping

To All Local Enforcement Agencies:

Two types of illegal disposal activities related to municipal solid wastes can commonly be recognized. The first of these will be termed incidents of "nuisance dumping" in this discussion. However, this type of illegal disposal activity may also be known by other names such as promiscuous dumping, indiscriminate dumping, littering, etc. The second type of illegal disposal activity is that involving illegal solid waste disposal sites.

What is Nuisance Dumping?

Nuisance dumping is characterized by small volumes of solid waste materials discharged to the ground surface. For example: a local resident arrives at the landfill and finds the facility closed and locked. He then proceeds down the road and unloads his pick-up full of trash by the side of the road. In general, cases of nuisance dumping pose only a minor potential threat to public health and safety or the environment compared to the potential threat posed by illegal solid waste disposal sites. However, cases of nuisance dumping which could pose a threat to public health and safety or the environment should be dealt with in a timely and appropriate fashion. Sites which pose a threat to ground or surface water quality should be reported to the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB).

What is the Appropriate Action for Incidents of Nuisance Dumping?

Enforcement actions against the owner or tenant of any premises, business establishment or industry for incidents of nuisance dumping may be dealt with under California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 14, Division 7, Chapter 3, Article 5, Section 17331. In addition, local codes or ordinances or the State Penal Code (Section 374 et seq.) may be available to deal with incidents of nuisance dumping. The local district attorney should be contacted to determine the appropriateness and applicability of prosecution under the State Penal Code in such incidents.

What are Illegal Solid Waste Disposal Sites?

Illegal solid waste disposal sites are those which, due to magnitude, obvious intent, or evidence of past or current burning of waste, may present a more significant potential threat to public health and safety and the environment than incidents of nuisance dumping as described above.

An illegal solid waste disposal site may be characterized by the following criteria:

  1. The presence of large volumes of waste,
  2. Evidence of repeated dumping,
  3. Evidence of buried waste,
  4. The presence of excavations for waste disposal,
  5. Evidence of periodic and/or current burning of waste, and/or
  6. The presence of equipment or personnel on-site.

Any one, or a combination of the listed characteristics, may indicate that a site is an illegal solid waste disposal site. In some cases, the distinction between nuisance dumping and an illegal solid waste disposal site may be difficult. However, the determination that a site is an illegal solid waste disposal site involves more regulatory agencies and requirements in the process to assure that public health and safety and the environment are protected. The Site Investigation Process (SIP) guidelines for investigating closed, illegal, and abandoned solid waste disposal sites (see CIWMB LEA Advisory No. 3, June 1993) can be used as a starting point in classifying such sites. These guidelines present a more structured approach to the problem of classifying and ranking closed, illegal, and abandoned sites and also outline a means by which the frequency of inspection by the LEA can be reduced if appropriate. If you have any questions about the process, or questions about the classification of particular sites, the staff of the Closure and Remediation Branch of the Board can be contacted for assistance.

What is the Appropriate Action for Illegal Solid Waste Disposal Sites?

The responsible party for an illegal disposal site has two options:

  1. Comply with all of the applicable regulations and obtain a permit to operate as a solid waste facility, or
  2. Close the site under the applicable regulations.

The closure of illegal solid waste disposal sites which accepted waste after January 1, 1988, fall under 14 CCR, Division 7, Chapter 3, Article 7.8 and Chapter 5, Articles 3.4 and 3.5. Submittal and review of the closure plans for these sites would follow the procedures outlined in 14 CCR, Division 7, Chapter 5, Article 3.4. If the site has not received waste after January 1, 1988, but did not close under the regulations applicable at the time waste acceptance ceased, it falls under 14 CCR, Division 7, Chapter 3, Article 7.8. In this case, the position of coordinating agency for the review and the timeline for the submittal and review of closure plans and other documents by the various agencies should be agreed upon by the agencies at the beginning of the project. For pre-1988 sites, the regulatory agencies may collectively determine that only some portions of 14 CCR, Division 7, Chapter 3, Article 7.8 need be applied to a particular site based on site conditions, history, and land-use. If the responsible party chooses to clean close the site as an alternative to a more conventional closure (closure with waste in place), a determination that clean closure is appropriate for that site would need to be made by the Board, RWQCB, and the LEA. Guidelines for clean closure can be found in LEA Advisory 16. Regardless of the date waste was last accepted, should the site pose a threat to public health and safety or the environment, or be a significant nuisance, then the applicable sections of the minimum standards (14 CCR, Division 7, Chapter 3, Articles 4.5, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6, and 7.8) should be applied. In this circumstance, the authority to apply these standards would be the general statutory language contained in Sections 43501, 44001, 44002, 45200, and 45300 of the Public Resources Code, as appropriate. There may also be local ordinances that apply.

Illegal Solid Waste Disposal Sites with no Responsible Party or Recalcitrant Responsible Parties

Beginning January 1, 1994, the California Integrated Waste Management Board (Board) has implemented a new cleanup program. The Solid Waste Disposal and Codisposal Site Cleanup Program (AB 2136) allows the Board to finance the cleanup of solid waste disposal and codisposal sites. The Board may expend a portion of the fund on the cleanup of illegal solid waste disposal sites.  AB 2136 targets sites where the responsible party cannot be identified or is unable or unwilling to pay for timely remediation. To qualify for funding, the sites must pose a threat to public health and safety or the environment. Under the AB 2136 program the Board can finance, through loans and grants, a wide range of cleanup projects. The Board may expend funds directly for cleanup or emergency actions, provide loans to responsible parties who demonstrate the ability to repay state funds, provide grants to LEAs for the clean up of illegal solid waste disposal sites, or provide matching grants to local governments to assist in site cleanup. All of the cleanups will have certain criteria applied to prevent a recurrence of the problems and will be coordinated with the LEAs.

Further Information

If you have any questions regarding the issues discussed in this advisory, please contact the Closure and Remediation Branch staff person assigned to your jurisdiction for assistance.

Sincerely,

Original signed by:

Deputy Director
Permitting and Enforcement Division

Publication #200-94-011

The intent of the advisories is to provide guidance to Local Enforcement Agencies (LEA) in performing their duties. Guidance, for this purpose, is defined as providing explanation of the Board’s regulations and statutes.

Unless included by reference in the LEA's Enforcement Program Plan (EPP), advisories are not enforceable in the same manner as regulations because they have not been adopted through the formal rulemaking process (see Government Code sections 11340.5 and 11342.6). Advisories do not take precedence over statute or regulation.

Please note: These LEA advisories are retained for historical purposes. Over time, some information and links on these pages may become dated and/or inaccurate.

LEA Advisories, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/LEA/Advisories/
Martin Perez: Martin Perez (916) 323-0834