Hazardous Materials

In California, the definition of a hazardous material is interpreted broadly. The basic characteristics that determine if a substance is a regulated hazardous material are toxicity, flammability, corrosivity and reactivity. Regulated radioactive materials are also included.

In addition, under state law and Union City ordinance, any material that by its physical characteristics or quantity represents a threat to pollute the environment may need to be permitted by Environmental Programs.

The California Health and Safety Code defines a hazardous material, as "any material that, because of its quantity, concentration, or physical or chemical characteristics, poses a significant present or potential hazard to human health and safety or to the environment if released into the workplace or environment…(including) hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, and any material which a handler or the administering agency has a reasonable basis for believing that it would be injurious… or harmful.”

Common hazardous materials include: flammable materials such as gasoline, aerosol spray cans, alcohols and propone; toxic and combustible materials like new and used motor oil, paints, parts washer fluids, and refrigeration gases for coolers and freezers; corrosive materials, such as concentrated cleaning products and acid electrolyte in batteries; and most compressed gases, including helium, nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide for soft drink machines.

Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP) Program

Be advised that as of January 1, 2013 state law requires submission of Hazardous Materials Business Plan information through the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS) website, accessible at cers.calepa.ca.gov.  We no longer accept paper submittals of HMBPs.

Any facility must prepare an HMBP if that facility at any one time throughout the year uses, handles, or stores a hazardous material (including hazardous waste), or an extremely hazardous material, in reportable quantities greater than or equal to the following:

  • 500 pounds of a solid substance
  • 55 gallons of a liquid
  • 200 cubic feet of compressed gas
  • Extremely hazardous substances in threshold planning quantities

A Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP) contains basic information on the location, type, quantity, and health risks of hazardous materials stored, used, or generated. California Health and Safety Code Division 20, Chapter 6.95 establishes minimum statewide standards for Hazardous Materials Business Plans, which the Union City Environmental programs Division enforces as the California Environmental Protection Agency-designated local Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA).

The Environmental Programs Division, a part of the Economic & Community Development Department, conducts routine inspections at businesses required to submit Hazardous Materials Business Plans. The purpose of these inspections is:

  • To ensure compliance with existing laws and regulations concerning HMBP requirements.
  • To identify existing safety hazards that could cause or contribute to an accidental spill or release.
  • To suggest preventive measures designed to minimize the risk of a spill or release of hazardous materials.

After the initial submission, the business must review and recertify the HMBP every year through CERS. Revisions to the inventory, site map, or emergency contacts need to be submitted with the annual Certification Statement, along with an updated copy of the Owner/Operator Identification Form.  A current copy of the HMBP must be maintained at the site where the hazardous materials are stored. If any section of the HMBP is found to be deficient, it must be amended and submitted to Environmental Programs within 30 days. The Plan must also be amended and submitted within 30 days of the following:

  • A 100% or greater increase in quantity of a hazardous material provided on the inventory
  • Any handling of a reportable quantity of a previously undisclosed hazardous material
  • Deleting a previously disclosed hazardous material
  • Any change in the storage, location or use of hazardous materials, which could affect an emergency response

The Hazardous Materials Business Plan includes seven sections:

  • Business Activities form
  • Owner/Operator Identification form
  • Chemical Inventory Description form
  • Site Map
  • Emergency Response/Contingency Plan
  • Employee Training requirements
  • Recordkeeping requirements

The HMBP will serve to better prepare the Fire Department for handling emergencies that could occur at your facility. The Fire Department has access to current HMBP chemical inventory and emergency coordinator contact information 24 hours a day. The most up-to-date HMBP format contains the necessary information for useful facility planning and for emergency responders. When completed, your HMBP will become a valuable tool, aiding you and your employees in managing emergencies at your facility.

For additional information, contact the Union City Environmental Programs Division at 510.675.5360 or environmental@unioncity.org.

Exemptions from HMBP Reporting

You are exempt from the regulations and do not have to complete an HMBP if any of the exemptions below apply and do not have other reportable hazardous materials:

  • the hazardous materials are contained solely in consumer products for direct distribution to the general public, in less than 5 gallon quantities and not filled on-site.
  • you are a physician, dentist, podiatrist, veterinarian, or pharmacist who stores oxygen, nitrogen, and/or nitrous oxide in quantities of not more than 1,000 cubic feet for each material;
  • you store 55 gallons or less of any specific type of lubricating oil and your total quantity does not exceed 275 gallons for all types of lubricating oil. Lubricating oil does not include used oil;
  • you store no more than 300 gallons of propane that is used for the sole purpose of heating employee work areas;
  • you store less than 1,000 cubic feet of helium, argon, nitrogen, or xenon gas;
  • contact Environmental Programs for the very latest information.

Electronic Reporting for Hazardous Materials Business Plans is mandatory. Paper submittals are no longer accepted. Visit the CERS Electronic Reporting Information page for the latest information!