California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Closed, Illegal and Abandoned (CIA) Disposal Sites

FAQs

This page contains questions and answers to assist local enforcement agencies (LEA) in their responsibilities related to closed, illegal, and abandoned (CIA) sites.

Inspection

What are the criteria for inspecting CIA sites (what am I inspecting the site for)?

  • An inspection guidance document is located on the CIA website. Key standards include: landfill gas (LFG) monitoring & control, cover, grading, drainage, erosion control, security, and postclosure land use (PCLU). These standards are found in 27 CCR and are included in SWIS digital inspection form 188 online.  Directions for accessing the form are included on the SWIS Digital Inspection Program (DIP) website.

What are state minimum standards for CIA sites?

  • LFG monitoring & control, cover, grading, drainage, erosion, security, PCLU (see CIA Authority Section).
  • In addition, 27 CCR 21100(d) may be used to apply closure standards as necessary for protection of public health and safety and the environment (PHS&E).
  • These standards are listed on the closed disposal site inspection form (CIWMB 188).

How do I manage a CIA site with multiple owners?

  • Guidance for sites with multiple owners is available online.
  • Such sites may have been subdivided after closing, prompting the owners to seek treatment of their specific parcels as separate disposal sites. The LEA should explain that this is not possible, as the waste footprint constitutes a single disposal site, with a single Solid Waste Information System (SWIS) number, and there are many remedial issues that can only be optimally resolved by treating the footprint as a single site (such as landfill gas migration and control issues).
  • Although not always possible (and not legally required), it is best to investigate and remedy site conditions using a single environmental consultant. The LEA can request technical assistance from CalRecycle CIA staff to conduct an investigation using CalRecycle’s environmental consultant. A single inspection report (with owners listed) should be issued to all landowners owners owning a portion of the footprint; encourage owners to work together (one environmental consultant, one attorney).

How can I reduce the inspection frequency for a site?

  • Conduct the Site Investigation Process. If a site has been investigated, meets state minimum standards with no violations or areas of concern, and does not pose a threat to public health and safety and the environment--a request for reduction in frequency can be granted (from quarterly to semi-annual or annual). Reduction in inspection frequency is covered on the SIP webpages.

When may a site be archived?

  • A site can be archived if it can be demonstrated that the site is not a solid waste disposal site (e.g., never built, hazardous waste site, no disposal occurred), the site has been clean closed, or the waste is demonstrated as being no threat to public health and safety and the environment. For more information, see archiving under the SIP webpages.

How do I get a new Solid Waste Information System (SWIS) number assigned (how do I add a site to the enumeration list)?

How do I obtain legal site access for inspections/investigations?

  • With respect to inspections, the first step to obtain site access is to request voluntary access in writing from the property owner (written consent is preferable; oral consent would need to be documented in telephone memorandum or voicemail); if this is not possible an inspection warrant may be obtained by court order. With respect to a CalRecycle CIA investigation, the property owner must cooperate and execute the CalRecycle “Property Access Authorization for Investigation of Disposal Site” (see inspection guidance for site access and property access authorization form). Otherwise the property owner should be ordered to conduct the investigation.

Site Investigation Process (SIP)

What is the purpose/authority of the SIP process?

  • Guidance for the SIP is available on the CalRecycle website.
  • The purpose of the SIP is to provide CalRecycle guidance on performing a “one-time” site information screening with limited field work to assess the need for further investigation, remediation, inspection frequency reduction, or other CalRecycle assistance.

How is the SIP process conducted?

  • A SIP website is available that details the SIP process: In summary--an “office investigation” is conducted consisting of reviewing files, reports, photographs, correspondence, etc. This information is summarized on the Site Identification Form (CalRecycle 880) and also on the Site Assessment Form (CalRecycle 881). Based on the completed SIP forms--a ranking can be determined for the site to provide the basis for further investigation, remediation, or inspection frequency reduction.

What is the result of conducting the SIP process?

  • The result of conducting the SIP process is a site ranking (A-D) that can provide the basis for a request for investigation/remediation assistance from CalRecycle, a reduction in inspection frequency for the site, or enforcement action, as necessary.

Investigation

What is the purpose of investigating CIA sites?

  • To determine if site conditions represent a threat to public health and safety and the environment based on compliance with state minimum standards; the CIA website contains information on both office and field investigations. CalRecycle’s general approach and format for site investigations could be used for site investigations conducted by property owners and their consultants. However, the CalRecycle approach and format is not a requirement and others may be suitable (e.g., National Contingency Plan or NCP Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) process).

How do I conduct an office investigation? What is involved?

  • An office investigation consists of reviewing and summarizing current and historical site information related to the site’s physical conditions to determine if a field investigation is necessary to verify a site’s conditions with respect to state minimum standards for landfill gas monitoring & control, cover, grading, drainage, erosion, security, and postclosure land use (PCLU).

How do I conduct a field investigation?

  • A field investigation is generally undertaken to obtain field data (geological, geophysical, hydrology, map, soil and gas analytical data, etc.) which would be used to assess whether or not a site was in compliance with state minimum standards, e.g. cover quality and thickness, waste extents and characteristics, gas monitoring data, topographic & hydrology data to support drainage conditions, etc.

Enforcement

What is the enforcement process for CIA sites?

  • The LEA should follow their Enforcement Program Plan (EPP), which usually provides a stepped or phased approach of increasing enforcement consequence starting with inspection reports which clearly note that there is a violation or a letter, such as a Notice of Violation. After the operator has been clearly noticed and is found not to be making progress towards correcting the violation then the LEA should start the formal enforcement process by writing a Notice and Order in accordance to its EPP, PRC 45000 et. seq. and 14 CCR 18304. After a Notice and Order is not complied with, the LEA proceeds to take one or more of the remedies outlined in the Notice and Order such as Penalties, Corrective Action or Injunction. Criminal penalties are allowed for under very specific conditions under PRC 45025. If there is a significant public health and safety threat, it is appropriate for the LEA to take immediate enforcement action, e.g. explosive levels of landfill gas found in residential structures.

When should I issue a notice & order for a violation?

  • An enforcement order may only be issued after a written request is not complied with per PRC 45010.2.

What type of Notice and Order should I issue?

  • Generally, a  compliance schedule provides the greatest flexibility for enforcement of regulations and compliance options, yet it does not have an effective enforcement mechanism and thus should only be used where the landowner is considered to be acting in good faith and with timelines so that reversion to an order can be timely accomplished if there is noncompliance; a cease and desist order may be necessary to sites where illegal disposal activities are occurring; a stipulated order can be used if an owner and LEA are amenable to negotiate terms and conditions and timelines, otherwise the standard order should be issued.

What evidence do I need to justify enforcement actions?

  • Depending on the situation and severity of the violation more or less detailed information may be necessary. At a minimum, written notification of the code section(s) in violation and a description of the violation(s) which include photographic evidence, inspection, and/or investigation documents, should be issued. Solid waste regulation enforcement actions can be general initially and subsequently more specific as information is obtained. LEAs also are required to submit/sign a declaration.

How do I enforce against multiple property owners?

  • Solid waste regulations specify the current property owner as the responsible party. Where a former landfill or disposal site is subdivided with multiple landowners owning a portion of the footprint, all have joint responsibility. With respect to landfill gas (LFG) migration problems and other amorphous “site-wide” issues, a single enforcement order should be issued by the enforcement agency which addresses all property owners. With respect to “non-global” violations, such as settlement occurring on a structure within a discrete assessor's parcel number, the LEA may seek compliance against the specific landowner.

How do I enforce against past property owners or operators?

  • Under current PRC statutes only the current owner and/or operator is subject to enforcement action. However, should the responsible party be unable or unwilling to correct a violation and upon public agency request the CalRecycle Cleanup Program remediates the site, CalRecycle has statutory authority to pursue cost recovery from past as well as present owners and operators.

Site Clean Closure

What is the process for clean closing a site?

  • An owner proposing to clean close a disposal site may follow guidance provided on CalRecycle’s website.
  • The guidance provides suggested information/documentation necessary to verify clean closure activities. Please note that the level of necessary investigation and verification is dependent upon the threat posed by the site.
  • The LEA may relieve the property owners of requirements under 27 CCR; however a clean closure certification may be required by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) for unrestricted land-use.

What sites should be considered for clean closure?

  • Site that if left in place would pose a significant threat to public health and safety and the environment (soil, waste and water data would need to show contamination levels that would be deemed a threat to public health)
  • Small disposal sites and illegal disposal sites (generally under 10,000 cubic yards) where the cost of closure and postclosure maintenance is equal to or greater that the cost of clean closure
  • Properties with land-value (development) that would exceed the cost of clean closure

What information is needed to verify clean closure?

  • Documentation on the clean-up including: phase I & II investigation reports, analytical results from verification samples, dump slips/gate fee receipt, photographs of clean-up. The level of detail is dependent upon the threat posed by the site.
  • Can clean-closed sites be redeveloped?
  • Sites that are clean closed and are planned for redevelopment may need to be certified clean closed by DTSC
  • Who certifies clean closure?
  • DTSC has regulatory authority to certify contaminated sites for unrestricted land-use (22 CCR Section 67391.1) .

Postclosure Land Use (PCLU)

What is the approval process for an owner to develop a CIA site?

  • Guidance for PCLU is located on the CalRecycle website.
  • A postclosure land-use plan must be approved by the LEA, pursuant 27 CCR 21190 in conjunction with development (local building and planning department site development approval processes) on a CIA site. The primary purpose of 27 CCR 21190 is to ensure that the integrity of landfill closure improvements (e.g., environmental monitoring and control systems) are not compromised and that developed structures are monitored and protected from landfill gas migration.

What is the regulatory authority for approving CIA site uses?

What information is needed in a PCLU Plan?

  • Guidance on PCLU plan contents can be found in LEA Advisory 51.
  • The plan should contain sufficient background information and field data (summary of previous site investigation information — in particular a topographic map or drawing showing the extents of waste, cover specifications, environmental monitoring and control systems and the location of the structure or improvement; description of site closure improvements (cover, drainage controls, gas monitoring and control systems) and any other background information that would provide the basis of design for protection measures for landfill gas and any potential PCLU construction activities that would adversely affect closure improvements.
  • A landfill investigation report (or Closure Certification Document) that documents the waste extents and characteristics, cover quality and thickness, landfill gas monitoring and control system requirements and specifications for drainage and erosion controls; the plan should include building plans and specifications and reflect how these plans consider the requirements within 27 CCR 21190. Examples of PCLU projects.
  • The level of detail necessary is dependent upon the type of PCLU (e.g., potential impact to disposal site control measures) and underlying waste type(s).

How are LEA requirements and conditions included in the PCLU approval process--how are they enforced?

  • The LEA can request that PLCU requirements be incorporated into building plans and specifications as a condition of LEA approval. The LEA can also work with the Building Department to ensure that these requirements are met. An LEA can also use of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process for the project as a means to address PCLU requirements (note that the mitigation measures required to protect a building structure from landfill gas is a significant cost that the owner should account for in the economic analysis of the project).

Can a PCLU plan be disapproved?

  • An LEA can disapprove a PCLU Plan if the plan does not adequately address the requirements of 27 CCR 21190, e.g. impermeable barriers, continuous gas monitoring systems, foundation venting systems, etc.

Additional Resources

The following presentations were given at the CalRecycle/LEA Technical Training in Sacramento November 5-8, 2012:

CIA Home

Last updated: January 25, 2017
Closed, Illegal, and Abandoned (CIA) Disposal Sites, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/SWFacilities/CIA/
Glenn Young: Glenn.Young@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6696