California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Permit Toolbox

Guidance: Emergency Waiver of Standards

Immediately following disasters, the cleanup effort and recovery often results in an increase in the quantity and variety of debris and material that may be sent to solid waste facilities for processing or disposal. The Emergency Waiver of Standards Regulations (Title 14, California Code of Regulations [CCR], Division 7, Chapter 3, Article 3, Section 17210 et seq.) describe a process for a solid waste facility operator to request a waiver of standards, permit terms and/or conditions in order to address changes needed to handle debris resulting from a declared emergency. These regulations describe the process for the use of emergency waivers that grant an operator temporary relief from specific standards imposed by 14 CCR or 27 CCR or specific terms and/or conditions of a solid waste facilities permit. The regulations also reference the establishment of locally approved temporary transfer or processing sites and locally approved temporary compostable material handling activities authorized by the enforcement agency.1

The regulations allow local enforcement agencies (EA), upon request from an operator, to waive standards, terms, and conditions in solid waste facilities permits. Typically, the request is for the facilities to accept disaster debris in excess of the normal tonnage amounts, to accept and process waste types that might not normally go to a facility, or to request that the facility be allowed to operate in a manner not consistent with specified permit terms, conditions, or certain state minimum standards.

What Is an Emergency Waiver of Standards?

An emergency waiver of standards is a waiver issued by an EA in response to a request, which grants a solid waste facility operator temporary relief from specific state minimum standards or specific terms and/or conditions of a solid waste facility permit. More specifically, during the recovery phase of a local or state of emergency, an EA may approve and issue a waiver for the express purpose of enabling an operator of an existing permitted solid waste facility, temporary transfer site or processing site to accept debris and other nonhazardous waste that is not consistent with the terms of their existing permit or the design and operation standards of their facility.

When May an Emergency Waiver of Standards Be Issued?

An emergency waiver of standards may only be issued when there has been a proclamation of a local or state of emergency as defined in the regulations. The definitions of local emergency and state of emergency are included under 14 CCR section 17210.1 (j, k), respectively. Generally, a state or local emergency is the proclaimed existence of conditions of a disaster or extreme peril to the safety of persons and property. The proclamation must be made by the governor in the case of a state of emergency or by a governing body (or designated official) of a county, city and county, or city in the case of a local emergency.

Which State Minimum Standards and Permit Conditions May Be Waived?

Pursuant to 14 CCR section 17210.2(c), the emergency waiver applies to specific state minimum solid waste standards and to specific terms and/or conditions in a solid waste facility permit that are related to the following:

  • Origin of waste;
  • Rate of inflow for storage, transfer, processing, or disposal of waste;
  • Type and moisture content of solid waste;
  • Hours of facility operation; and
  • Storage time before transfer, processing, or disposal of nonhazardous waste.

Note, the standards, terms, and/or conditions that may be waived are those related to the increased volume and type of waste that may be generated by a disaster and/or the recovery operations after a disaster. The intent of the waiver is to enable an operator to handle the increased volumes of waste without creating public health and safety or environmental problems. For this reason, the waiver is limited in scope to the areas listed above, and all other state minimum standards and permit terms and/or conditions shall remain in effect (14 CCR section 17210.2[e]).

How Long Does a Waiver Remain In Effect?

The effective period of a waiver, once granted by an EA, shall not exceed 120 days initially. The EA may extend the effective period of the waiver, as necessary, to assist in the recovery from an emergency. (14 CCR section 17210.2[d]).

Pursuant to 14 CCR section 17210.2(f), a waiver may be modified, canceled, or revoked by an EA without advance notice should the EA determine that any of the following conditions occur:

  1. The use of a waiver will cause or contribute to a public health and safety or environmental problem;
  2. The terms of the waiver are not being used expressly to handle the state of emergency or local emergency and are not in the best interest of the public health and safety;
  3. The waiver is no longer necessary; or
  4. The operator is not utilizing disaster debris diversion programs to the extent feasible.

While the necessity for a waiver may be for longer than 120 days, depending on the disaster (emergency), it should be noted that a waiver may be canceled or revoked under these provisions as soon as it is no longer deemed necessary or appropriate, even during the initial 120 day period.

Request for an Emergency Waiver (14 CCR section 17210.3)

An operator may apply2 for a waiver after a local emergency or state of emergency has been declared. To obtain a waiver, a solid waste facility operator shall submit a written request to the EA. The request shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

  1. A listing of the solid waste facility permit’s terms and conditions to be waived to facilitate recovery and disposal of disaster debris;
  2. A statement of the remaining disposal capacity of the solid waste facility at the time of the request;
  3. A description of all facility-related diversion programs and on-site recycling facilities; and
  4. A listing of locally approved temporary transfer or processing sites to be used to store disaster debris for future reuse or recycling.

The operator may also wish to include a reference to any state minimum standards that they may wish the EA to consider waiving pursuant to the EA’s authority under 14 CCR section 17210.8. Examples of operator requests and EA approvals are included at the end of the guidance.

Granting an Emergency Waiver (14 CCR section 17210.4)

The EA may grant a waiver based on the request of an operator after an emergency has been declared upon the following findings:

  1.  The operator applying for the waiver holds a valid solid waste facility permit (or is legally operating a locally approved temporary transfer or processing site, or a locally approved temporary compostable material handling site);
  2. The waiver will not pose a threat to public health and safety or the environment; and
  3. The operator identifies and implements, to the extent feasible, diversion programs to maximize diversion through reuse, recycling, or composting of disaster-related waste.

The EA must notify the operator within seven (7) days of receipt of the waiver request whether the waiver has been granted or denied. If the request for a waiver is not approved, the EA’s notification shall include the reasons for the denial. The operator may submit another request for a waiver at a later date or submit necessary supplemental documentation to receive a waiver immediately, if appropriate. If a waiver is granted, the effective period of the waiver cannot exceed 120 days unless extended by the EA.

CalRecycle staff are available for consultation and assistance when reviewing operators' requests for waivers. General questions on the issuance of emergency waivers should be directed to the Waste Permitting, Compliance and Mitigation Division Disaster Response Coordinator. Site specific concerns should be discussed with the appropriate Permits and Assistance Branch staff.

Department Review (14 CCR section 17210.9)

The Director of CalRecycle shall review all EA waiver approvals. The Director may condition, limit, suspend, or terminate the use of a waiver if3:

(1) it is determined the use of the waiver would cause harm to public health and safety or the environment or

(2) it is found the operator has not utilized reasonably available waste diversion programs as identified in the waiver documentation.

For instance, a waiver may be disallowed by CalRecycle if an operator made no effort to divert readily recyclable materials even though diversion facilities are already in place, especially since temporary storage sites can be used to store surplus materials until they can be processed.

What Are the Reporting Requirements? (14 CCR section 17210.5)

Following are the reporting requirements under the waiver regulations:

Operator

The operator shall submit a written report to the EA (and to the local agency responsible for compiling disposal information from haulers and operators, which is usually the county unless a regional agreement is in force) every 90 days from the effective date of a waiver until either (1) the termination of the waiver or (2) there is no longer any discernible disaster related waste being processed or stored at the facility, whichever is later.

The written report shall include the following information:

  1. The daily amount of disaster debris received, diverted, and disposed at the facility;
  2. The jurisdiction of origin for the disaster debris received at the facility;
  3. The increase in tonnage of waste received during the waiver period; and
  4. The facilities used to process the disaster debris.

If the waiver is extended beyond 120 days, the operator shall submit a report as described above to the EA and local agency every 90 days until the end of the effective period of the waiver.

Enforcement Agency (14 CCR section 17210.6)

The EA shall submit a copy of all approved waivers to CalRecycle within 15 days of issuance and all operator's written reports within 30 days of receipt.

Department (14 CCR section 17210.9)

CalRecycle shall report any granting of a waiver at the CalRecycle monthly meetings.

Are There Any Other Disaster Related Duties of the EA? (14 CCR section 17210.7)

In the event of a state of emergency or local emergency, the EA is also required to provide to the local government a list of solid waste facilities which have been granted a waiver. The list shall include:

  1. The site capacity for acceptance of waste,
  2. Daily tonnage limits during the emergency,
  3. Hours of operation, and
  4. On-site recycling and diversion for disaster-related debris.

Usually, this information is provided to the local emergency services office.

Furthermore, the EA is required to survey solid waste facilities and determine the diversion programs available and to make this information available to an affected local jurisdiction and the public. To prevent a jurisdiction’s diversion from being impacted by disaster debris, the Integrated Waste Management Act allows disaster debris to be subtracted from disposal tons if it is tracked. Because disasters (for example, earthquakes, fires, and floods) can generate a lot of debris, it is important for facility operators to track this debris to assure disposal reporting accuracy. For more information, visit the Disaster Debris Disposal Deduction webpage.

Summary of Emergency Waiver of Standards

Scope and Applicability

  • Specific state minimum standards (SMS) and/or terms and conditions of the solid waste facility permit (SWFP)

EA Authority

  • Public Resources Code section 43035, 14 CCR section 17210 et. seq

Purpose and Limitations

  • Proclaimed state of emergency or local emergency, as defined (including an official designated by ordinance)
  • Existing permitted solid waste facility or locally approved temporary site
  • Applies to SMS or permit terms and conditions related to:
    • Origin of waste
    • Rate of inflow for storage, transfer or disposal
    • Type and moisture content of solid waste
    • Hours of operation
    • Storage times
  • Allows locally approved temporary transfer or processing site or compostable material handling site
  • Waiver may be modified, cancelled or revoked by EA

Effective Period and Term

  • 120 days (initial)
  • May be extended upon receipt of required reports

Request by Operator

  • Written request to EA after proclamation of emergency, including:
    • List of terms and conditions to be waived (and/or SMS)
    • Remaining disposal capacity
    • Description of facility related diversion and recycling programs
    • List of locally approved temporary sites

Enforcement Agency (EA) Findings

  • Waiver (i.e., letter) based on EA findings:
    • Valid SWFP (or is legally operating a locally-approved temporary transfer or processing site, or a locally approved temporary compostable material handling site)
    • Not pose a threat to public health, safety, or the environment
    • Operator identifies and implements diversion programs of disaster related wastes

EA Review Times

  • Grant or deny waiver within 7 days of receipt of request

Reporting by Operator to EA

  • Written report to EA within 90 days of granting waiver (14 CCR section 17210.5 for contents of report)
  • Review report provides required information
  • Report every 90 days thereafter while waiver active

Reporting by EA to CalRecycle

  • Transmit copy of approved waiver within 15 days of issuance
  • Submit copy of operator’s reports within 30 days of receipt

Selection of a Facility for Emergency Disposal and Diversion

  • EA provide list of facilities with waiver to local government (including capacity, hours, tonnage limits, recycling and diversion)
  • Diversion information made available by EA

CalRecycle Powers and Duties

  • Review of EA waiver approvals
  • May condition, limit, suspend, or terminate if the waiver would cause harm to public health and safety, the environment or if the operator is not utilizing diversion programs as identified in waiver
  • Report at next monthly meeting

Should you have any questions or comments concerning this guidance, please contact the Permitting and Assistance Branch staff.

Examples of operator requests and EA approvals of emergency waiver of standards:


1See 14 CCR sections 17403.5. Emergency Transfer/Processing Operations, and 17383.9. Emergency Construction and Demolition/Inert Debris Processing Operations for additional requirements.

2Note the regulations use the terms “apply” and “request” interchangeably.

3Pursuant to a delegation from the Director, the Branch Chief of the Department’s Permitting and Assistance Branch is authorized to make these determinations.

Last updated: March 8, 2017
Permit Toolbox, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/SWFacilities/Permitting/
Kevin Taylor: Kevin.Taylor@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6582