Farm Hazardous Materials Frequently Asked Questions

How did this program come about?

California Health and Safety Code, Chapter 6.95 was adopted in 1987 to minimize potential firefighter exposures to hazardous materials when responding to an emergency at businesses. This law required an annual inventory, posting of buildings, and a spill response training plan.  In 1994 the Governor and Legislature enacted a law that mandated the State of California to designate a single local agency in each county to administer six hazardous material programs including the hazardous material disclosure program.  This law mandated the State of California to audit each local agency every three years. In 1996, the State designated Solano County Department of Resource Management to administer these hazardous material programs.  In 1999, the State conducted its first audit of Solano County Department of Resource Management and found the implementation of the hazardous material program on farms was incomplete and required a triennial inspection of each farm to verify compliance.  Through cooperation between the Agriculture Department and Resource Management inspections began in 2001.

What do I have to do to comply with this program?

Complete hazardous material reporting for hazardous materials stored over the reportable thresholds annually, placard buildings appropriately, develop a training plan and train employees on your spill cleanup procedures, and anticipate and allow a site inspection every three years.  Farmers enter the chemical inventory and upload their site diagram into California Environmental Reporting System at CERS CENTRAL

I don’t believe we have any “hazardous materials”, why am I being billed?

Hazardous materials include gasoline, diesel, waste engine oil, fertilizers, pesticides, oxygen, acetylene, argon, carbon dioxide, propane and many other hazardous substances. Most growers are affected by this program because they store fuel (not just pesticides). The use of 500 gallon or less of propane that is used to heat buildings are exempt from reporting requirements. Contact Department of Resource Management to verify whether you are not storing any chemicals over the threshold amounts.  If you don’t store materials over threshold amounts, you don’t need to pay but you must contact us.  The County Staff may inspect the site before removing you from the list and removing you from the billing.  The department continues to send out mailing regarding threshold amounts of hazardous materials.  For a list of acutely hazardous materials and their reporting thresholds contact us for more information at (707) 784-6765.

Where can I get good advice to develop a training plan for spill procedures? 

Solano County Environmental Health Services Division can give you an template for developing spill procedures see  CERS Compatible Contingency Plan or contact Environmental Health Services Division  at (707) 784-6765. Generic spill response plan can be found on the Unidocs website developed by Santa Clara County and a various fire agencies at

What can I do to obtain an exemption from reporting?

You can reduce the quantity of hazardous materials you store to less than 55 gallons of liquid, 500 pounds of solid, or 200 cubic feet of compressed gases.

How long do I need to store to be in this program?  I thought it was 30 days.

The code states storage hazardous materials equal to or in excess of 55 gallons of liquid, 500 pounds of a solid or 200 cubic feet of a compressed gas stored on site at any time is subject to the requirements of this program. There is only an exemption for transportation activities defined as being in transit under US Department of Transportation Regulations at transportation facilities such as  hazardous materials transport by truck rail and by marine. This does not apply to hazardous materials storage at a facility. Remember, the goal of this program is to protect emergency response agencies responding to an emergency on your property by informing them of hazardous materials stored on the property for any length of time (e.g. one week, two weeks, or long term).

What are the standards for storage of fuel?  Is there a containment system needed?

Since fuels are hazardous materials, you are required to report storage of 55 gallons, the same as for any other chemical.   You are required to place signs on any building containing petroleum fuels. The Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act and Federal Spill Prevention Countermeasure Control Plan regulations pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulations require secondary containment unless there is a determination by a professional engineer of environmental equivalency. The California Fire Code requires secondary containment and the Building Division and  The fire department/fire districts enforce the California Fire Code in Solano County. The California Fire Code Code specifies secondary containment to be at least 110 percent of the volume of the largest tank. For more information see Farm SPCC GuidanceSample Tier I SPCC Plan for FarmsResources for SPCC Preparation on Farms, and USEPA Info on SPCC For Agriculture.

Why did the State of California establish these reporting thresholds for hazardous materials?

The State of California established a minimum threshold of 55 gallons for liquids, 500 pounds for solids, and 200 cubic feet of compressed gases to provide chemical information to fire departments/districts, other response agencies, and the public to protect the public health and safety and to protect firefighters and other response agencies when they respond to emergencies see HMBP FAQs and HMBP Mixture Guidance.

What if I don’t comply?

Solano County Department of Resource Management will contact you to conduct an inspection of your facility and provide you the necessary forms to add or remove your facility from the hazardous material program. The Solano County Department of Resource Management may pursue formal enforcement through the administrative enforcment process, refer your business to the Solano County District Attorney Office, or the State Attorney General for follow-up if reportable quantities are stored on the property and not reported.  Solano County Department of Resource Management can provide you assistance in submitting to California Environmental Reporting System at CERS CENTRAL.

What does the Fire Department do with the info?

The Solano County Agriculture Department sends the completed inventory and inspection documents to Solano County Department of Resource Management. As of January 1, 2013 the Hazardous Materials Business Plan is required to be submitted to the California Environmental Reporting System at CERS CENTRAL  The fire departments and districts within Solano County have access to view, download and print the information in CERS through the Regulatory Portal. The fire districts use this information for planning and response purposes. This information can protect firefighters from actual or potential exposures from hazardous materials during an emergency response at a business.

Why are we being billed?  Why do I need to pay every year, even if there’s no change? You are required to report annually at CERS CENTRAL. You are being billed for cost recovery for the triennial inspection, record keeping, and billing. A portion of the fee is goes to the State as the State Site Fee,  a portion goes to Resource Management for maintaining the inventory database and providing information to first responders, and the majority of the fee is goes to the Ag Department for the inspection, record keeping, etc.  You are not being billed for follow-up inspections.  We combined inspections to keep down costs. We cross trained staff to reduce the need for additional staff and inspection time.

Where can I get more information about the State Site Fee?

California Environmental Protection Agency is the agency that oversees the implementation of this fee and their telephone number (916) 327 - 9559 and their website is Cal EPA-Link. The State of California collects this fee to cover the costs of the state agencies overseeing hazardous material programs.

Why did the Agriculture Department not conduct hazardous material inspections before 2001? From 1987 to 1999 Solano County elected to perform voluntary compliance for the hazardous material disclosure program on farms by requesting annual inventories but not conducting field inspections to verify the accuracy of the reported information. In 1999, the State of California performed an audit on the Department of Resource Management’s implementation of the hazardous material disclosure program on farms.  The State found Solano County’s implementation of this program to be incomplete and required a triennial inspection of each farm to verify compliance with this law as specified by the State Office of Emergency Services.  Solano County Department of Resource Management established a cooperative arrangement with Solano County Agriculture Department to perform the hazardous material inspections to minimize the regulatory burden on farmers.  Site inspection/field verification began in 2001 through the County Agriculture Department with a goal of doing inspections no less than one every three years for all growers who store materials above state reportable threshold amounts and have filed inventories.

What State Agencies oversee this regulatory program?

The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA) has the overall administration of this regulatory program. Additionally, the State Office of Emergency Services has jurisdiction over the hazardous material disclosure and writes the regulations governing this program. The California Office of State Fire Marshall has jurisdiction over the Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act, aboveground storage tanks containing petroleum products, You can contact Cal EPA at (916) 327-9559 and their website Cal EPA . The California Office of Emergency Services telephone number is (916) 845-8510 and their website is CAL OES. You can contact California Office of State Fire Marshall by email at [email protected] and their website is OSFM

Where can we get more information?

California Environmental Protection Agency website is Cal EPA, California Office of State Fire Marshal website is OSFM  and US Environmental Protection Agency website is EPA Link.  You can also contact California Office of Emergency Services website CAL OES.