California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Permit Toolbox

Writing a Solid Waste Facility Permit

This web page has been developed in coordination with local enforcement agencies (LEA) and California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) staff to provide guidance on how to write a solid waste facilities permit (SWFP) that is consistent with California Code of Regulation, Title 27 (27 CCR) and the Public Resources Code (PRC). This web page replaces LEA Advisory No. 57 and updates and clarifies information to reflect changes to the solid waste facilities permit application (CIWMB Form E-1-77) since the advisory was originally published in 1999.

This web page discusses the role of the LEA and CalRecycle staff in the permit process, the goals of the guidelines for writing a permit, including the contents and a boilerplate solid waste facilities permit (Word or PDF) that can be used as a template, if desired. LEAs are encouraged to use the solid waste facilities permit boilerplate cover page in order to accommodate changes in owner/operator and five-year review updates.

This web page is intended to provide guidance to LEAs in performing their duties. Guidance, for this purpose, was defined as providing explanation of CalRecycle’s regulations and statutes, and recommendations how an LEA might satisfy program goals and objectives. This web page is not intended to impose substantive requirements on LEAs.

Roles of the LEA and CalRecycle Staff in the Permitting Process

The LEA has the primary responsibility in processing and enforcing the solid waste facilities permit. The LEAs review operator application packages to determine completeness and adequacy, and write permits that include conditions that protect public health, safety and the environment. Additionally, the LEA makes a discretionary action by issuing the permit, and therefore is responsible for ensuring compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The LEA is the primary contact for the operator in the permitting process. CalRecycle staff’s primary role is to assist the LEA in analyzing the solid waste facilities permit application package and to assist in writing the permits. This assistance can be accomplished by publishing advisories, telephone conversations, reviewing applications, training, attending meetings with operators and other types of technical assistance.

Goals and Function of the Solid Waste Facilities Permit

The primary goal/purpose of issuing or revising a solid waste facilities permit is to ensure protection of the public health and safety and prevention of environmental damage. The long-term protection of the environment is the guiding criterion (PRC 44012).

Statutory requirements for a solid waste facilities permit:

  • Authorize the operation of the solid waste facility in accordance with California law and regulations (PRC 44014 [b]).
  • Minimize overlap with other regulatory agencies (PRC 43100 et. seq.).
  • Specify limitations, prohibitions, terms and conditions that the enforcement agency determines to be appropriate for the design and operation of a solid waste facility (PRC 44001, 44002 and 44004).
  • Be consistent with the CEQA analysis for the project (PRC 44004, 27 CCR 21650).

Practical requirements for writing a solid waste facilities permit:

  • Be written to reasonably accommodate anticipated fluctuations to reflect at least a five-year plan of the facilities’ activities and operations, thus minimizing the need for frequent revisions.
  • Specify limitations and prohibitions based on:

    a) The LEA’s knowledge of past operating practices.
    b) The LEA’s review of the facility design and operation.
    c) Local enactments and site specific conditions.

Guidelines for Writing a Solid Waste Facilities Permit

For additional information regarding writing and processing solid waste facilities permits; PRC 44009(a)(2), 44010 and 44014(b).

The following information is organized by numbers that correspond to the permit boilerplate.

The following items (1-13) are required information in the solid waste facilities permit:

Facility/Permit (Solid Waste Information System) Number and Local Enforcement Agency Number (if applicable)

A permit number assigned for each permit issued by an LEA appearing on all pages of the permit. The SWIS number, assigned by CalRecycle, is for State and local tracking purposes. The LEA can also include the local permit number, if applicable, on the permit.

1. Name and Street Address of Facility

The facility name and physical address, and/or other identifying description (no P.O. Box) to locate the site.

2. Name and Mailing Address of Operator

The name of the operator(s) and mailing address(es), which may differ from the site address, to identify the responsible party and provides a location to serve notice and to let the public where notice maybe sent. For multiple operators, the LEA may attach an additional page(s) to the permit. Generally, contract operators are not included on the permit since the operator and owner are responsible for the permit (14 CCR 18208 and 27 CCR 21663).

3. Name and Mailing Address of Land Owner

The name of the land owner(s) and mailing address(es), which provides a location to serve notice. For multiple owners or operators, the LEA may attach an additional page(s) to the permit.

4. Permitted Operations or Specifications

The type of facility, as defined in regulation and/or statute (landfills, transfer stations, green waste composting facilities, mixed composting facilities, processing facilities, transformation facilities, etc.), including a list of all operations that will be covered under the permit. Multiple activities under one permit will generally occur when combining an operation, which falls under the tiered permitting regulations with a full permit activity.

Facility Limitations include:

  • Tonnage
  • Elevation and excavation
  • Disposal (footprint) area
  • Hours of operation
  • Traffic

If the LEA deems that these limits are not an integral part of the project description, the LEA should provide a rationale in a cover letter that accompanies the proposed permit and be prepared to present that rationale at the CalRecycle Waste Compliance and Mitigation Program Status Workshop or any subsequent public hearings where the permit is being considered. It is recommended that the LEA work with CalRecycle staff if any of these items are deleted from the Facility Limitations section of the permit to ensure a smoother package submittal during the 60-day review and concurrence timeframe.

The LEA should consider 27 CCR 21663 when determining the appropriate limits to put in the permit:

(a) Upon compliance with the CEQA and this article, and upon the concurrence of the CIWMB for new and revised solid waste facilities permits, and the Executive Director of the CIWMB for modified solid waste facilities permits, the EA shall issue the solid waste facilities permit as provided in Public Resources Code 44014. The solid waste facilities permit shall specify the person authorized to operate the facility and the boundaries of the facility. The solid waste facilities permit shall contain such conditions as are necessary to specify a design and operation for which the applicant has demonstrated in the proceedings before the EA the ability to control the adverse environmental effects of the facility.

(1) As used herein, "design" means the layout of the facility (including numbers and types of fixed structures), total volumetric capacity of a disposal site [or total throughput rate of a transfer/processing station, transformation facility, or composting facility] vehicular traffic flow, and patterns surrounding and within the facility, proposed contouring, and other factors that may be considered a part of the facility’s physical configuration.

(2) As used herein, "operation" means the procedures, personnel, and equipment utilized to receive, handle and dispose of solid wastes and to control the effects of the facility on the environment.

The LEAs also should keep in mind all the information available to them. The Note for 27 CCR 21650 provides guidance in this area:

When writing conditions pursuant to 21650(i) the EA shall take into consideration PRC 44012, which requires the EA to ensure that primary consideration is given to protecting public health and safety and preventing environmental damage, and the long-term protection of the environment. The EA may also take into consideration other permits, entitlements and approvals when writing terms and conditions (e.g., conditional use permit, zoning, Air Pollution Control District/Air Quality Management District permits to construct and operate, Department of Toxic Substances Control hazardous waste facility permit, Department of Fish and Game permits, Coastal Commission approvals, Army Corps of Engineers permit, Federal Aviation Administration notification, and other required local and county ordinances/permits).

When writing limits into the permit, it is important that they are written in a clear manner so as to be enforceable and unambiguous. For example, if an average tonnage is being used as a limit, the time over which this average is calculated should be included. (Note: Generally, averages are used as limits when CEQA has defined tonnage as an average. Sometimes an average and maximum are described in the CEQA document.)

Permit limitations are used to ensure compliance with State Minimum Standards, applicable parts of the CEQA document and local requirements as deemed necessary by the LEA. For more flexibility the numbers should be limits consistent with or lesser than delineated in CEQA documents and not necessarily what is currently occurring at the site. The LEAs, as parameters for setting any necessary conditions or monitoring requirements, may use these limits.

The limit should be complete and specific. For example, hours of operation could be interpreted as operating hours; hours open to the public, etc. LEAs should avoid ambiguous conditions similar to the above example. Be specific on the intent of the limit.

Proposals to exceed solid waste facilities permit limits may cause the LEA to change the permit’s conditions, conduct additional CEQA analysis or require the operator to amend the report of facility information description of design and operations. In some cases, the LEA may determine that these limits may not be necessary. An example of this may be if the Report of Facility Information describes necessary measures for operating at night, the CEQA analysis has no limits on hours of operation. If there is no environmental, public health or nuisance reason to limit the hours of operation, then limiting the hours of operation in the permit may not be necessary. Keep in mind that if any limitation has been set in the CEQA documents the permit cannot exceed these limits.

Additionally, one limitation could supersede the need for another limit. For example, if the tonnage limit restricts the vehicle traffic enough to ensure that incoming and outgoing traffic will not impact the operator’s ability to handle the permitted amount of waste or cause a hazard on public roads from vehicles stacking, then the traffic limit may not be necessary in the permit.

Any of these limits may be described in a manner the LEA determines is adequate for the appropriate level of public health and environmental protection and is consistent with the CEQA documents. When deciding if these limits are necessary, the LEA shall consider the location of the facility, proximity to homes and businesses or other sensitive receptors, special site conditions, the operator’s compliance record, the CEQA analysis and the overall design of the facility. Any of these limitations may be excluded from the permit with a brief explanation of the LEA's reasoning. This reasoning may be given in the cover letter that accompanies the proposed permit.

The information contained in the solid waste facility permit application (CIWMB Form E-1-77) is just one of several sources of information that can be helpful in determining how to address maximum tonnage, acreage, capacity and other aspects of the facility design and operation when writing a permit. Other sources would include the CEQA record (the LEA must find the permit to be consistent with CEQA (27 CCR 21685 (b)(8)), other permits, site visits and inspections, as well as technical information provided in reports of facility information documents. There is no requirement to incorporate any specifics in a permit, such as daily tonnage, so long as the LEA has considered the requirements of PRC 44012 and found that specifics are not needed in the permit. Report of facility information documents include requirements for the receiving and handling of materials that can sometimes be used as effectively as specific conditions or limits in a permit, because construction of a facility or the operation of a facility in a manner that is inconsistent with these documents would not be authorized without LEA review and approval.

Design Paramenter/Information includes:

  • Total Airspace Capacity
  • Design Capacity (for other than disposal facilities)
  • Remaining Airspace Capacity as of a specific date
  • Estimated Closure Year

Preceding the Design Information section with a statement indicating that this description is the design information at the time this permit is issued/written provides maximum flexibility for operators who make non-significant changes in design and operation, in order to meet AB 939 goals, to adapt to changing regulations and to efficiently run their solid waste facility while still having a meaningful project description in the permit to provide the LEA with a baseline for determining significant change. The LEA may allow changes through approved Report of Facility Information amendments, pursuant to 27 CCR 21665.

Information provided in this section of the permit is interlinked and a minor change in one set of the Design Information could lead to the change of other criteria. Site/permit changes should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If significant changes occur in the site design, this will, in most cases, change other parameters such as capacity and site life. Significant changes will require revision of the Solid Waste Facilities Permit and may require additional environmental review in order to comply with CEQA. However, it may also be appropriate to put these parameters as restrictions if the facility is limited by the CEQA analysis. A good example of this is a lateral expansion of a landfill (filling in a whole new area or unit) which, in almost all cases, would be a significant change because the landfill’s footprint, acreage, capacity, closure year and closure plan would all change (PRC 44004(a)).

5. Approval

The name and title of the LEA's approving officer typed on the permit and a signature (at the time of issuance).

6. Enforcement Agency Name and Address

The Enforcement Agency’s name and address.

7, 8 & 9. Date Received by CalRecycle, CalRecycle Concurrence Date and the Permit Issued Date

CalRecycle will stamp the date the permit was received, and the date it concurs with the permit. The LEA will stamp the date it issues the permit to the operator. (These dates are necessary for record keeping and tracking the permit through the process. In practice, these “stamps” may not appear on the same copy of the permit. However, the dates on the final permit must be the same as the stamped dates and the permit shall read the same as the permit that was acted on by CalRecycle.)

10. Permit Review Due Date

The date the next 5-Year Permit Review is due.

11. Owner/Operator Transfer Date

The date the LEA approves a transfer or change in operator or owner (land owner and/or business owner) and makes minor changes in the permit to reflect this change pursuant to PRC 44005. This is necessary for purposes of clarification, record keeping and tracking. If the LEA reissues the permit through a revision or modification, this is not necessary.

12. Legal Description of Facility-Site Boundary

The site boundary should include all areas that will be governed by the permit. The boundaries may be described in parcels, as long as they are whole parcels. If, for some reason, the boundaries cannot be described in whole parcels they may be described from the results of an engineered survey (a “metes and bounds“ description). A map may be attached to the parcel description or “metes and bounds” description to clarify the permit boundaries and to define the location of the permitted acreage (14 CCR 18208 and 27 CCR 21663).

13. LEA Findings Pursuant to Public Resources Code 44009, 44010 and 44012

The findings can be as stated in the boilerplate permit or as deemed appropriate by the LEA. Note that these findings are made at the time the LEA proposes and issues the permit (Question? Made at the time the LEA proposes the permit OR when the LEA issues the permit?).

The following findings shall be made:

  1. The permit is consistent with the County Solid Waste Management Plan (CoSWMP) or the Countywide Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan (CIWMP) (PRC 50000 or 50001).
  2. Facility compliance with PRC 50000 or 50001. For a landfill permit where a Countywide Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan has not been approved, the authorized agent must have made a written finding that the facility is consistent with, and designated in, the applicable general plan(s). Additionally, the local governing body must make a written finding that the surrounding land use is compatible with the facility operation (PRC 50000.5 [a] and [b]). (Authorized agent means the body or person who has the authority to determine county and/or city General Plan conformance, which is usually a jurisdiction’s Board of Supervisors or City Council.)
  3. The permit is consistent with standards adopted by CalRecycle (PRC 44010).
  4. The design and operation of the facility is consistent with the State Minimum Standards for solid waste handling and disposal as determined by the LEA.
  5. The environmental documentation (i.e., environmental impact report (EIR), negative declaration and/or exemption) is consistent with and supports the proposed permit and report of facility information (RFI). This finding should cite the environmental document(s), a document reference number and date, including amendments that enabled the LEA to make this finding.

14. Prohibitions

Items that the operator is prohibited from accepting, either by statue, regulation, local government restrictions, LEA requirements or environmental documentation limitations.

The following information is optional:

15. Additional Documents Reviewed at the time the Solid Waste Facilities Permit was Proposed that describe and/or restrict the operation of the facility 

This should be a list of documents (i.e., permits, environmental documents, etc.); including the dates of the documents that were reviewed at the time the permit was issued. These documents describe and/or condition the operation and use of the facility, which were considered when the LEA wrote and issued this permit. The LEA considered these documents before making the above findings about the facility and permit and before determining the necessary conditions to incorporate into the permit to ensure the protection of public health and safety and the environment. These are not conditioning documents of the solid waste facilities permit and are not enforceable under this permit.

The LEA might include the following:

  • Environmental impact report or negative declaration (include State Clearinghouse number);*
  • Land use permits and conditional use permits;*
  • Preliminary closure plan or final closure and postclosure maintenance plan;*
  • Closure financial responsibility documentation;
  • Operating liability documentation;
  • Waste Discharge Requirements;
  • Local and county ordinances and rulings that regulate the facility; and
  • Air pollution permits and variances.
    * Indicates documents that should be reviewed prior to writing the permit.

16. Self Monitoring-LEA Monitoring Requirements

This section should include those self-monitoring requirements that should be submitted to the LEA on a scheduled basis. The LEA should consider its authority and need for the documents. The LEA may require any reports that are necessary to monitor the facilities compliance with State Minimum Standards. The monitoring requirements may also be listed as LEA conditions if deemed to be more efficient.

17. LEA Conditions

The LEA may want to condition the operation of the facility. When considering what kind of conditions may be appropriate, the LEA should consider any past enforcement issues with the operator or any environmental impacts associated with the design and operations of the facility which may need mitigating. The LEA should not restate conditions from the permits issued by other agencies. Conditions that are more restrictive than the limits expressed in a Regional Water Quality Control Board or local air district permit or order should be solely for the purpose of protecting the public health and safety and the environment along with the citation of the authority which supports such condition.

The information contained in the report of facility information shall be used to determine whether a permit should be issued and to provide information to be included within the permit, if in the opinion of the LEA it is applicable. The report of facility information should be referenced in the “conditions” section of the permit, and the LEA may include as much of the report in the permit as deemed applicable pursuant to 27 CCR 21600 (a). It is suggested that language be crafted to allow for future amendments to the report of facility information.

The permit could contain prohibitions on the acceptance of any liquid waste sludge, non-hazardous waste requiring special handling, designated waste or hazardous waste.

Mitigation measures that are adopted as part of the CEQA analysis are often included in the LEA conditions. The LEA should only include those mitigation measures that it has the authority to enforce under the PRC, 14 CCR and 27 CCR.

Conclusion

A clear and concise permit, although not always easy to write, benefits the LEA, operator and CalRecycle. It is necessary to strive toward writing permit conditions that are explicit and indisputable. CalRecycle encourages LEAs to work closely with their Permitting and LEA Support representatives when preparing the permits. This helps to reduce potential problems and misinterpretations on or near the day of the hearing.

Lastly, the LEAs may incorporate other limits and conditions in the permit, as they deem necessary to protect the public health and safety and the environment and to ensure the facilities’ ability to comply with State Minimum Standards for design and operation with an authority citation. All limits or conditions should be within the LEA’s authority. Proposed limits or conditions that may overlap with the Regional Water Quality Control Board or local air district limits should be established only after coordinating with the appropriate agency and operator and before the proposed limits are included in the permit, pursuant to 27 CCR 20005 and 20030 and PRC 43101 et seq.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your Permitting and Certification representative.

Last updated: June 23, 2014
Permit Toolbox, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/SWFacilities/Permitting/
Kevin Taylor: Kevin.Taylor@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6582