California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) plans to focus on improving departmental operations while addressing health and safety issues through a variety of new and continuing initiatives to reduce hazardous waste and toxic substances. In late December, DTSC released its Strategic Plan for 2014-2018: Fixing the Foundation – Building a Path Forward, [PDF] which lays out approaches and specific objectives for five broad goals: Cleanup, Hazardous Waste Management, Safer Consumer Products, Support Services, and Public Engagement.
DTSC’s approach to achieving its Hazardous Waste Management objectives includes holding businesses accountable for costs associated with regulation and cleanup, maximizing enforcement reach, and improving data quality and transparency. Notably, the plan calls for reforming the agency’s hazardous waste fee system by making fees “fairer” and in line with the goals of source reduction, recycling, polluter-pays principle, and in-state management. Following an external review of the agency’s permit program, DTSC plans to work on ensuring that permits are protective, timely, and enforceable, and also that enforcement is effective, efficient, and consistent. The agency hopes to improve public confidence in this area through a range of different efforts, including making the “enforcement program’s information and processes more accessible to the public” and launching an IT system that “improves the availability and accuracy of hazardous waste tracking data” for both the agency and the public. Other Hazardous Waste Management objectives include: working with Cal/EPA to train and evaluate local authorities responsible for enforcing hazardous waste laws at the local level; expanding DTSC’s capacity to respond to natural disasters and chemical emergencies; and assessing the classification of metal shredder waste.
The agency’s approach to its newly-launched Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program includes: changing how products are designed and manufactured; avoiding product redesigns that result in “regrettable substitutes”; holding manufacturers responsible for the life cycle impacts of their products; and increasing public access to data on chemicals in consumer products while protecting trade secret information. First among its objectives for the SCP program is the adoption of the initial list of Priority Products and development of guidance documents for Alternatives Analysis. DTSC also plans to develop a data system to support implementation of the SCP regulations and provide information tools for manufacturers and consumers on chemical hazard traits and exposures.
More information on DTSC’s “Fixing the Foundation” initiative is available in Director Debbie Raphael’s online message.