California Tier II Reporting
As a diverse industrial hub, California is host to numerous businesses that manage and utilize hazardous materials. California has rigorous Tier II chemical inventory reporting to improve community right-to-know and hazmat incident preparedness across the state. To manage the risks associated with hazardous materials, California has implemented the Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP) program. This comprehensive state-mandated initiative is designed to ensure that businesses dealing with hazardous materials have robust emergency response and training plans in place.
Understanding California’s Tier II Reporting Requirements
Who Needs to Report?
Facilities that handle hazardous materials (including hazardous waste) in California at reportable quantities must file a Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP) with their local Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) if the reportable quantities are equal to or greater than:
- 500 pounds of a solid
- 55 gallons of a liquid
- 200 cubic feet of a compressed gas
- A hazardous compressed gas in any amount (highly toxic with a threshold limit value of ≤ 10 parts per million)
- Extremely hazardous substances above the threshold planning quantities (TPQs)
- Unlike other states, hazardous wastes are treated the same as hazardous materials and should be included on the HMBP chemical inventory
California’s HMBP additionally requires facilities to report information about:
- Aboveground and Below-ground storage tanks
- Recyclable Materials: Hazardous materials that are designated for recycling are exempt from HMBP handling and inventory reporting requirements. However, to qualify for this exemption, the hazardous materials must be recycled at the same facility at which they are generated. If hazardous materials designated for recycling are transported to an off-site recycling facility, they are subject to full HMBP reporting requirements like other hazardous materials.
- In March 2022, a document was released by the California Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP) Technical Advisory Group that detailed how facilities should report various types of batteries in California
- All other information on California’s HMBP exemptions and thresholds can be found here
Types of Facilities Subject to HMBP Reporting
Here are some common examples of facilities in California that would need to submit a Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP) based on the chemicals they handle:
- Gas stations – For gasoline, diesel fuels, and lubricating oils.
- Auto repair shops – For brake fluids, solvents, paints, oils, antifreeze, and battery acid
- Hardware stores – For paints, cleaning chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers
- Medical facilities – For medical gasses, radioactive materials, disinfectants, and lab chemicals
- Printing shops – For inks, solvents, film chemicals, and adhesives.
- Manufacturing facilities – For acids, bases, solvents, coatings, cleaning agents, compressed gasses, and more
- Warehouses – For a wide variety of chemicals stored and distributed
- Dry cleaners – For perchloroethylene, spotting chemicals, and detergents
- Pest control businesses – For insecticides, rodenticides, and fumigants
- Swimming pool companies – For pool chemicals like chlorine, muriatic acid, and sodium hypochlorite
- Agriculture operations – For diesel fuels, lubricants, pesticides, and fertilizers
- Many other businesses are not listed here
According to HMBP regulations nuances exist within California’s HMBP that are not followed by EPCRAs requirements for Tier II reporting, for example:
- Local CUPAs conduct regular inspections of facilities to verify HMBP compliance
- As part of the HMBP businesses must provide ongoing training to employees responsible for handling hazardous materials or responding to emergencies
- The implementation of and enforcement of the HMBP Program can vary between local CUPAs. For example, some CUPAs may have lower reporting thresholds for their chemicals.
California’s Electronic Tier II Reporting System (CERS)
Overview of the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS)
CERS is an online statewide reporting portal to report hazardous materials and wastes in California. It was developed by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to streamline reporting under several state and federal laws. Facilities use CERS for reporting:
- Tier II chemical inventory under EPCRA
- Hazardous waste generation (Biennial Reporters)
- Underground storage tanks (USTs)
- Aboveground storage tanks (ASTs)
- Hazardous Materials Business Plans (HMBPs)
How to Submit a Tier II Report in California
Here are the key steps for submitting a Tier II chemical inventory report in CERS (California Environmental Reporting System):
- Register for a CERS account if you don’t already have one. You will need your EPA ID number and business information.
- Log into your CERS account and click the “Tier II” module. Select “Add New Tier II Report” for the current reporting year.
- Select your facility and enter the calendar year for the inventory you are reporting. Click “Create Tier II”.
- Complete each section of the Tier II report with your facility information, contact details, chemical storage locations, and the chemical inventory.
- For each chemical, provide the CAS number, chemical name, physical state, storage types, locations, and aggregate quantities on-site during the year above reporting thresholds.
- Estimate maximum daily amounts if exact inventory fluctuated. You can save and edit the inventory list as needed.
- Attach Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for each chemical. Upload or link them in CERS.
- Certify that the Tier II information is complete and accurate. Generate a submittal batch.
- Officially submit the completed Tier II report to your Administering Agency (CUPA or PA) found here:
- Pay any applicable processing fees to the CUPA. Retain confirmation of filing. Fee information.
- Submit Tier II updates within 30 days if you exceed thresholds for additional chemicals. Revise annually.
It’s important to notify your CUPA of HMBP changes within 30 days. This ensures first responders have up-to-date information in case of an emergency at your facility. You should also train employees on the new hazardous materials and post the amended HMBP for workers.
Deadlines and Timelines for HMBP Reporting
Annual Reporting Deadline
CUPAs have specific due dates to submit an HMBP although March 1st is the set annual HMBP certification deadline for California businesses handling hazardous materials to comprehensively review, update, and resubmit their plans.
Additional Reporting Requirements
An HMBP is required to be updated within 30 days of any of the following changes:
- 100% Increase of a Previously Disclosed Hazardous Material: A 100 percent or more increase in the quantity of a previously disclosed material.
- Previously Undisclosed Hazardous Material: Any handling of a previously undisclosed hazardous material subject to the inventory requirements of this article.
- Change of Business Information: Change of business or facility address, changed of business ownership, or change of business name.
- Substantial change in the handler’s operation: A substantial change in the handler’s operations occurs that requires modification to any portion of the business plan.
Tips for Effective HMBP Reporting
Maintain Accurate Inventory Records
It is important to maintain accurate inventory records in California because of the strict regulations required under the Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP). If there are changes at your facility an updated HMBP may be required.
Understand State-Specific Reporting Requirements
Facilities must submit an HMBP report into CERS. No additional submissions are necessary.
Keep Copies of All Submitted Reports
In making sure your facility stays in compliance with California’s environmental reporting requirements it is important to maintain records of your facility’s HMBP report. In the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS), you can generate a PDF document of the certified HMBP submission for your records.
Common Mistakes in HMBP Reporting and How to Avoid Them
Incorrectly Estimating Quantity of Reportable Substances
- Incomplete or missing chemical inventory – Document all hazardous materials over thresholds. Include all required details like chemical names, quantities, and locations.
- Not reporting new hazardous materials or increased quantities within 30 days – Routinely review inventory and update HMBP as needed. Don’t wait for annual certification.
Not considering hazardous wastes
Unlike in other states, hazardous wastes are treated similarly to hazardous materials and should be evaluated against applicable thresholds.
Make sure to check if your substance is a reportable amount by checking the reportable quantities at the top of this page.
Failing to Keep Up-To-Date with Changes in Regulations
Failure to comply with California’s Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP) requirements can lead to significant penalties, enforcement actions, and other consequences including bad press.
Penalties for Non-Compliance with HMBP Reporting in California
Potential Fines and Legal Consequences
Penalties are assessed based on the nature, extent, gravity, and circumstances of the violation for example:
- Civil Penalties – Financial penalties up to $2,000 per day can be assessed for major violations. Minor violations may incur $500 per day fines.
- Criminal Penalties – Willful and knowing violations are misdemeanors and may result in fines and/or imprisonment.
- Permit Suspension – The administering agency can suspend permits or block operations until compliance is achieved.
- Agency Inspections – Lack of compliance triggers site inspections and increased scrutiny from agencies like the fire department.
- Public Relations – Some agencies publish names of non-compliant businesses as additional incentives to follow regulations and avoid bad press.
- Litigation Risk – In case of any release or accident, noncompliance will likely lead to harsher outcomes in civil litigation or criminal prosecution.
- Competitive Disadvantage – Compliant businesses may avoid working with non-compliant companies, costing business relationships.
- Decreased Access – Lenders, insurers, and landlords may restrict access to capital, insurance, and real estate for non-compliant operators.
- Community Distrust – Customers and neighbors lose trust in businesses disregarding safety regulations.
Impact on Community Safety and Emergency Preparedness
- Proper hazardous materials reporting through the Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP) is crucial for community safety and emergency preparedness. Here are some examples of the potential impacts of inadequate HMBP reporting:
- Firefighters unknowingly exposed to unsafe chemicals during a fire at a facility that failed to report hazardous materials in their HMBP. Proper reporting could have better prepared first responders.
- A railroad accident resulted in a toxic chemical spill and evacuation. A nearby facility had not disclosed similar chemicals in their HMBP, delaying coordination of the evacuation zone.
- Emergency responders are unable to quickly locate and shut off gas lines due to inadequate site maps and information in a facility’s HMBP during an emergency.
- Delayed or improper medical treatment for injuries caused during a chemical explosion, because first responders lacked full awareness of chemical hazards from a deficient HMBP.