California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

LEA Advisory #23 Attachment Part I—June 1995

Inspection Guidance for Transfer Stations, Materials Recovery Facilities, and Waste-to-Energy Facilities

Table of Contents

State Requirements

Local Requirements

Pre-Inspection Procedures

Inspection Procedures

Arriving at the Facility
Gaining Access
Denial of Access
Health and Safety Considerations
Exit Interview

Documentation

LEA Approvals

Records

Inspection Report

Interagency Coordination

Facility Types

Transfer or Processing Stations
Small Volume Transfer Stations
Large Volume Transfer Stations
Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs)
Transformation/Waste-To-Energy Facilities (WTEF)

Statutes/Regulations Guidance

Standards Applicability (Small Volume vs. Large Volume Transfer Station)
Small Volume Transfer Stations
Large Volume Transfer Stations, Materials Recovery Facilities, and Waste-To-Energy Facilities

Appendix A: Recommended Health and Safety Gear for Inspections of Transfer Stations, Materials Recovery Facilities, and Waste-to-Energy Facilities

Appendix B: SWIS Digital Inspection Program

Appendix C: Conversion Factors for Individual Material Types

Appendix D: Health and Safety Code Sections 25218.2 and 25218.8 (storage of spent lead-acid batteries)

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to Local Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) regarding procedures for conducting inspections of small and large volume transfer stations, materials recovery facilities (MRFs), and waste-to energy facilities (WTEFs).

The applicable statutes and regulations of the Public Resources Code (PRC) and Title 14, California Code of Regulations (14 CCR) for transfer/processing stations listed on the Solid Waste Information System (SWIS) inspection report forms for small and large volume transfer stations are bolded, italicized, and listed in their entirety. Currently, no specific regulations exist for evaluation of MRFs and WTEFs. At this time, these facilities are regulated under 14 CCR, Chapter 3, Article 6, Transfer/Processing Stations. Guidance for interpretation and application of statutes and regulations follows each listing.

Since levels of experience vary among inspectors, this document is designed for all levels of expertise. Also, statute and regulation guidance is designed for the individual standard. Due to regulatory overlap, guidance may be repetitive in some instances.

State Requirements

The Board is required to conduct at least one inspection every 18 months of solid waste landfills and transformation facilities (i.e., WTEFs) and submit a written inspection report to the LEA within 30 days of the inspection (PRC§ 43220). The Board will also conduct periodic inspections of transfer stations and MRFs to evaluate the LEA and to ensure that SMS are met (PRC §§ 43214(a), 43219).  When the Board is acting as the EA, it will inspect sites at the same frequencies required of the LEA.

Local Requirements

The LEA is required under PRC § 43209 to develop, implement, and maintain an inspection program. Title 14, Section 18303 requires the LEA to conduct investigations of allegations concerning a SWF (including transfer station, MRF, and WTEF) where it has reason to believe that a violation exists. In accordance with PRC § 43218 and 14 CCR § 18083, the LEA is required to inspect each active and inactive SWF within its jurisdiction at least one time each month. In addition, the LEA is required by 14 CCR § 18083 to inspect SWFs at the following frequency:

  • monthly for illegal sites and facilities pending abatement by enforcement action
  • as necessary for permit actions or complaints.

Follow-up inspections to determine if a facility has corrected past violations should occur within ten business days after the established deadline for correction has elapsed.

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Pre-Inspection Procedures

During the pre-inspection workup, the inspector should read and become familiar with all sections of the most current valid solid waste facilities permit (SWFP) and Report of Station Information (RSI) or Plan of Operation. The information in these documents should be scrutinized for consistency with actual facility conditions and operations while conducting the inspection. The inspector should then determine if any of the applicable permit related statutes and regulations (PRC §§ 44002, 44004, 44014(b), and 14 CCR §§ 18213(b) and 18221) are in violation. In addition, the inspector should review documentation of public complaints concerning the facility. It is recommended that the enforcement agency keep a public complaint log.

LEA inspections should be coordinated in advance with other agencies when issues are involved which require their input. The appropriate agency should always be contacted concerning issues for which they have statutory or regulatory authority. In some cases, it is appropriate to contact several agencies (e.g., multi-media issues). It is recommended that the inspector contact the relevant fire protection authority, Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), Air Pollution Control District (APCD) or Air Quality Management District (AQMD) and other agencies which are mandated by either state, federal or local ordinance to govern compliance at the SWF. Information gathered will allow the inspector to assess compliance with SMS for issues which come primarily under the authority of these agencies.

Inspection Procedures

Inspections performed pursuant to PRC § 43218 and 14 CCR should include a review of all standards published under 14 CCR, Division 7, Chapter 3, Minimum Standards for Solid Waste Handling and Disposal. The inspection should also include a review of the facility's permit conditions. Non-compliance with any applicable permit condition should be noted in the inspection report. When the LEA conducts an inspection/investigation, the review should include applicable local regulatory requirements, in addition to those of the State.

The time allotted for a field inspection depends upon the size and complexity of the facility and inspection frequency. The guidance presented in this document is intended to cover a thorough inspection. All inspection-related procedures are listed so that the LEA may have access to such information; it is understood that a monthly inspection of a SWF by the LEA may not require consideration of each and every item presented here. However, the LEA is responsible for verifying that the facility is either in compliance or in violation of all applicable SMS each month.

In accordance with 18083(b), the LEA may conduct inspections without prior notice to the owner or operator, during normal business hours or the facility's operating hours. Inspections should be unannounced to the site operator, unless prevented by extraordinary circumstances.

Arriving at the Facility

In order to detect unpermitted operations and verify facility operating hours and security precautions, the inspector should arrive at the facility before it opens in the morning.

Gaining Access

When entering a facility for the first time, the inspector should drive first to the gatehouse via the same entry point used by the public and/or contract waste haulers. At the gatehouse, the inspector should state the following: name, employer, reason for site visit, and that photos may be taken as documentation. The employee at the gatehouse may either tell the inspector to go on with the inspection or direct the inspector to speak with an official at the facility.

If no employee is present at the gatehouse, or there is no gatehouse or scalehouse, the inspector should attempt to find an employee at the site by going to the office area, maintenance area or the tipping floor. Upon finding an employee, the inspector should follow the introduction described above.

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Denial of Access

If access is denied in any way, the inspector should politely determine if the individual denying access is the appropriate official to make such a decision. The inspector should ask the reason for denial of access and verify that the purpose and authority to conduct the inspection under the PRC are understood. If access is still denied, the inspector should abide by the operator's wishes, document the name of the person denying access, and then call his/her agency's supervisor. The supervisor, working with the appropriate county, state, or CalEPA legal staff, should pursue the steps necessary to gain access, using an inspection warrant. Note that PRC § 44101(b) allows an inspection without the consent of the owner/operator or the issuance of a warrant, in the event of an emergency affecting public health or safety. In addition to outright denial of entry, access denial may include preventing the inspector from bringing in necessary equipment (camera), preventing access to documents, or denying entry if the inspector refuses to sign a waiver or other legal document(s) restricting the owner/operator's liabilities or obligations.

The reception of the inspector and the helpfulness of SWF officials will vary from site to site. Most inspections can be accomplished without adversarial confrontations. However, inspectors may be threatened by facility representatives during an inspection. If threatened with violence, the inspector should immediately stop the inspection, leave the site or area where the threat exists, and contact his/her supervisor as soon as possible. The name of the person who has threatened violence and nature of the threat should be noted in the inspection report.

Health and Safety Considerations

Board staff recommend that each jurisdiction develop a health and safety plan for conducting inspections of SWF. The plan should include equipment requirements for field staff. For reference, the Board's Interim Field Health and Safety Plan requires Board inspectors to wear overalls, hard hat, safety vest, safety glasses and safety boots during an inspection. Ear protection, gloves, and a dust mask should also be immediately available. See Appendix A for recommended health and safety equipment.

In addition to being aware of hazards associated with facility operations, the inspector should avoid other sources of potential injury, including bees, wasps, spiders, snakes, poison oak, and wild animals (e.g., bears, rodents, and feral cats).

Exit Interview

At the beginning of the inspection, the inspector should notify the operator that an exit interview will be conducted at the conclusion of the inspection. The exit interview is a summary of the inspection results which allows the inspector to communicate inspection findings to the operator. If the operator is unable to attend, the inspector should contact the operator by telephone to conduct the exit interview.

Documentation

Early in the day, the inspector should determine the best time to interview appropriate site personnel and to inspect facility records. This will allow the inspector to ensure that a supervisor or facility manager is present to answer questions and to find or provide access to necessary records.

The inspector should carry a SWIS inspection report form for transfer stations (Appendix B), appropriate health and safety equipment, and a camera throughout the inspection. This allows notes and photographs to be taken as issues arise. It also serves to prevent missing one-of-a-kind photo opportunities. Throughout the inspection, the inspector should periodically refer to the SWIS report form to assure that each standard is addressed and that there is enough time to evaluate the remaining standards.

The inspector should also bring a copy of a facility map or diagram. When possible, compliance status and all notes, observations, and comments, should be made during the inspection, not later in the office.

Evidence includes all field notes, SWIS inspection form reports, photographs, samples, and drawings and maps made by the inspector on the day of the inspection. The inspector should maintain control of all such evidence during an inspection and thoroughly review it before leaving the site.

Field notes should be used to record the results of all observations and measurements. To ensure proper documentation, field notes should be signed, dated, and contain the proper facility file number. These field notes are then subject to public records requests.

Photographs provide the best documentation of what an inspector has actually observed. Therefore, it is extremely important that each photograph be properly identified and tied into the inspection report for later use as evidence. As telephoto or wide angle lenses may distort both the scale and the image, photographs taken with these lenses should include a notation of the lens type.

When possible, the inspector should document each violation with photographs. The inspector should note the facility name, SWIS number, date, time, film roll number, direction faced, and name of the inspector taking the pictures in his/her notes. Later, when the developed slides or prints become available, the inspector should transfer this data to the prints or slides and initial or sign each one. When taking photos, it is sometimes appropriate to include some items that will show comparative scale, such as a clipboard, person, or vehicle. The violation should be clearly shown in each photo so that it is understandable to anyone viewing it. Portable video equipment is also available to Board inspectors for documentation purposes; an LEA may request that a Board inspector document violations with this equipment.

Maps and drawings may be used to document the facility layout on the day of the inspection as well as the location of violations and photo points. These should be carefully drawn with only the necessary details. A compass should always be used to establish a north arrow. Actual distances (from hip chain measurements or measuring wheels) should be shown when necessary.

Estimates for applicable standards (i.e., amount of waste accepted per day) should be obtained from the facility operator. If the estimates do not appear to be accurate, this should be noted in the inspection report. If estimates are made by the inspector, the method used should be included in the inspection report. Copies of on-site records should be made if they substantiate a violation.

If an observation is the sole evidence of a violation, the inspector should describe the activity causing the condition of violation either in the inspection report or notice of violation, including maps or diagrams, where appropriate. This description should include, what the inspector observed, and why the observation should be considered a violation. When a judgment is made regarding the adequacy of monitoring or controlling the effects of an operation, a complete discussion of the facts should include the adequacy of those controls.

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LEA Approvals

The following CCR, Title 14 SMS may require the LEA to provide a finding, determination, requirement, or approval to the operator of a solid waste disposal facility:

  • 17425 Small Volume Transfer Station Operation
  • 17461 Weight Volume Records
  • 17474 Site Attendant
  • 17481 Identification Signs
  • 17485 Visual Screening
  • 17494 Lighting
  • 17495 Fire Fighting Equipment
  • 17497 Personnel Health and Safety
  • 17512 Cleaning
  • 17513 Solid Waste Removal
  • 17516 Salvaging Permitted at Transfer Stations
  • 17517 Volume Reduction
  • 17520 Storage of Salvage
  • 17522 Non-Salvageable Items
  • 17534 Drainage Control
  • 17535 Litter Control
  • 17557 Station Maintenance Program
  • 17562 Hazardous Wastes
  • 17564 Liquid Wastes

Title 14, Section 18077(a)(9) requires that, "At a minimum, the EPP shall include the following written component: a procedure manual for inspection, investigation, compliance assurance, enforcement, and hearing panel utilization."

The LEA should review the above standards to assess those requirements which may require additional guidance and/or action to the operator of a solid waste facility. For purposes of illustration, 14 CCR 17461 states that "each station operator shall maintain records of weights or volumes handled in a manner and form approved by the Enforcement Agency." The LEA should establish written requirements for the operator describing appropriate maintenance of these records, e.g., records should be kept in a binder and copies sent to the LEA on a monthly basis. These requirements should be forwarded to the operators of solid waste facilities and be included in the LEA's Enforcement Program Plan (EPP).

Documentation mechanism(s) for LEA approval concerning SMS should also be described in the EPP. For example, the mechanism could include the requirement that a written request be submitted by the operator to the LEA when an increase in salvaged material storage volume is sought. In addition, the mechanism could include the requirement that the LEA respond to the operator's request in writing and both the request and response be forwarded to the Board.

Records

Facility records which should be reviewed include all documentation required by the following SMS:

  • 17461--Weight/Volume Records
  • 17462--Special Occurrences

Under certain circumstances, other documents which may be reviewed to assess state minimum standards include salvage material removal records and the facility Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP). Salvaged material storage records may indicate the types of materials being salvaged and their removal frequency. The IIPP may include personnel health and safety equipment requirements of the LEA and information on site personnel training programs.

Inspection Report

The LEA is required by PRC § 43218 to file, within 30 days of the inspection, a written report in a format prescribed by the Board. The prescribed format for this report is the SWIS inspection form. LEA inspection reports should be completed and forwarded to the Board's Enforcement Branch staff person assigned to your agency's jurisdiction.The Board is required by PRC § 43220 to prepare and submit a written inspection report to the LEA within 30 days of a state inspection.

Interagency Coordination

In addition to the Board and LEA, a number of governmental agencies have authority over aspects of solid waste disposal. Further coordination mechanisms will be developed by the AB 1220 implementation group and subsequent guidance provided to the LEAs. During the interim, potential and/or alleged violations of other agency's statutes and regulations should be noted on the inspection report and the appropriate agency should be contacted. A partial listing of agencies which may have authority over disposal sites include the State Water Resources Control Board, a Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Department of Health Services, the Department of Toxic Substances Control, the Department of Forestry, the Cal/OSHA Department of Occupational Safety and Health, the Air Resources Board, Local Air Pollution Control or Air Quality Management Districts, local and state fire agencies, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the Coastal Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Fish and Game, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

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Facility Types

Transfer or Processing Stations

PRC § 40200 states that transfer or processing stations include those facilities utilized to receive solid wastes, temporarily store, separate, convert, or otherwise process the materials in the solid wastes, or to transfer the solid wastes directly from smaller to larger vehicles for transport, and those facilities used for transformation.

A transfer station is a facility where the transfer of wastes from smaller collection vehicles to larger transport equipment takes place. The waste is then hauled to a processing or disposal site. The most common method of transport in California is by motor vehicle, usually trailers, semitrailers, and compactors. However, the transport of wastes by rail (rail-haul) is increasing.

Facilities whose principal function is to receive store, separate, convert, or otherwise process in accordance with SMS, manure, or wastes which have already been separated for reuse and are not intended for disposal are not transfer or processing stations. Guidance for these types of facilities is not included in this document.

Small Volume Transfer Stations

Stations which receive less than 100 cubic yards of wastes per operating day are classified as small volume transfer stations.

It is important to schedule inspections of small volume transfer stations on the days and during the hours that they are open. Many small volume transfer stations are not open continuously or have restricted hours of operation. Sometimes this will mean scheduling an inspection on a weekend.

Records for small facilities will usually not be at the site. Therefore, the inspector should determine, prior to inspection, where they are located and make arrangements to review them.

Inspecting a small volume transfer station involves two main standards. The first standard, section 17425, Small Volume Transfer Station Operation, requires good operating practices, the protection of public health and safety, adequate control of drainage and minimization of nuisances. Section 17426, Cleaning and Waste Removal Frequency, requires weekly cleaning and waste removal unless different frequencies are specified in the governing RFI or permit.

General guidance is given below under "Large Volume Transfer Stations". Some of the information presented in this section may be applicable to small volume transfer stations as well.

Large Volume Transfer Stations

Stations which receive 100 cubic yards or more of wastes per operating day are classified as large volume transfer stations, per § 17401.

A large volume transfer station has three major areas covered by SMS. These include the tipping floor or pit, the facility perimeter, and the station entry/gatehouse/office area. At the tipping floor or pit, several of the SMS can be evaluated. These include sections 17496, Protection of Users, 17511, Confined Unloading, 17515, Scavenging, 17538, Traffic Control, and 17562, Hazardous Wastes.

The inspector should walk the transfer station perimeter looking for points of illegal access, visual screening problems, litter, and signs of contaminated drainage leaving the site. At the perimeter, the inspector should also look for nuisance problems including those of dust, noise and odor.

When it is convenient, the inspector should go to the gatehouse or office area of the transfer station and check records, signs, communications facilities, potable water supply, and station sanitary facilities. Hazardous waste screening should take place at the gatehouse or scalehouse.

Other important areas to check at a transfer/processing station include salvaging and recycling areas and equipment storage areas. In these areas, the inspector should look for illegal wastes, fire hazards, safety hazards and for wastes stored in vehicles and bins.

The inspector should check with key station personnel early enough to ensure that records can be found and the necessary people are available for interviews during the inspection.

The inspector should verify that the local health entity (if other than the EA) and fire authority maintain a list of the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the operator, station manager, and supervisor.

In addition to health and safety equipment, the inspector should also carry a camera, flashlight, and Solid Waste Information System (SWIS) inspection report form for transfer stations.

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Martin Perez: Martin Perez (916) 323-0834