California Environmental Reporting System (CERS)
Frequently Asked Questions

State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) has prepared a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS) database. State Water Board has prepared FAQs for both the “Regulator Users Portal” and the “Business Users Portal”. State Water Board updates the FAQs as needed to ensure the most up-to-date and relevant information can be obtained by CERS users.” under the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS) Frequently Asked Questions title.

Frequently Asked Questions

UST FAQ: Updated: How to enter Red Tag Information

Question: How do I enter Red Tag information?

Answer: Enter Red Tag information in the Compliance section; Enforcement Subsection. This FAQ presumes you have already created the inspection record and added the appropriate UST related violations.

Step 1: Go to ‘Enforcement’ under the Compliance Section of CERS and select either ‘Create Enforcement’ for a new Red Tag entry, or ‘Search’ to find a previous enforcement action to which you want to add a Red Tag entry.

  • Important: Create a separate Enforcement Action for each Red tag issued. For example, if three tanks are tagged at one gas station, create three separate Enforcement Actions. Do not create one enforcement action and put more than one red tag number in the comments box.
Screenshot of the CERS Regulator Home page showing the compliance drop down menu.

Screenshot of the enforcement action search.

Step 2: When you create an enforcement action, CERS 2 requires that you select the ‘Type’ from the drop down menu choices shown below. For Red Tags, use ‘Referral to Other’ as the default type unless one of the other drop-down menu choices more accurately describes your enforcement action.

Depicts location of 'Type of Action' on 'Enforcement Action Details' tab.

Depicts 'Type of Action' drop down.  Select 'Referral to Other'.

Step 3: Select ‘Administrative’ as the ‘Formal Type’ unless one of the other choices is more appropriate for your enforcement action.

Image highlights location of 'Formal Type' selection bubbles on 'Enforcement Action Details'.

Step 4: Check the Red Tag Issued box. Entering relevant comments and the specific tank ID number in the Comments field is recommended.

Depicts selection of 'Red Tag Issued' box, and location for required comment.

Step 5: Complete the Red Tag Information Section.

  • Note that in the ‘Violations Causing Red Tag’ field you can only select one violation. If more than one violation led to the red tag issuance, enter the most significant violation. You can reference the other violations in the comments field.
Depicts 'Red Tag' date boxes and location of 'Violation Causing Red Tag' drop down menu.

Step 6: Verify the Enforcement Summary screen shows the desired information. You can edit or add additional violations with the click of a button.

Depicts information to verify and location of

Step 7: Run Reports for verification

  • Red Tag Facility Details Report: The report shows the facility name, date the Red Tag was affixed, date removed, the Red Tag Number and the violation(s) that caused it to be issued. It does not list the CERS field ID numbers.
    Depicts location of the 'Red Tag Facility Details Report' link on 'UST Program Reports' page.
    Depicts 'Red Tag Facility Report'.

  • UST CME Data Download: Select the ‘UST Enforcments’link. The resulting table shows similar information to the Red Tag report and includes the CERS field ID numbers.
  • Depicts location of the 'UST CME Data Download' link on 'UST Program Reports' page.

    Depicts overview information on 'UST CME Data Download'.

    Depicts location on spreadsheat where to confirm 'Red Tag' information.

  • These two reports should be consistent with your records for Red Tagged USTs. If not, investigate to determine what information is missing or incorrect.

Creating a Valid CERS Report 6 (Revised 4/26/2016)

Question: How does a UPA ensure that the CERS generated Report 6 provides current, accurate information?

Answer: Much of the data reported in the CERS UST reports is based on ‘Accepted’ submittals. If a submittal has not been reviewed (status = ‘submitted’), or its’ status has been set to ‘under review’ or ‘not accepted’ the results will not be included in these reports. This was intentional to ensure that the data from the reports is based on UPA-validated data. The following will assist UPAs in evaluating the UST related data in CERS and will identify actions to take to resolve inconsistencies. Once completed, as long as the UPA maintains the data as described below the UST reports in CERS should be valid for the Water Board, US EPA and your own use. Report 6 was revised in December 2015 and again in February 2016. Changes include two new columns; G: #New Petroleum Systems Installed, and H: #New Hazardous Substance Systems. Additional changes to this FAQ are highlighted in red. April 2016 changes are highlighted in bright red.

Developing an accurate Report 6 in CERS for the first time

Step 1: Run Report 6. Do not enter a date range if you are trying to verify all UST data to date.

Screenshot of how to run Report 6 ‘Inspection Summary Report by Regulator (Report 6)

Note the new columns

Screenshot of new columns called ‘# New Petroleum Systems Installed’ and ‘# New Haz Sub Systems Installed’
  • Check the box ‘Include Breakdown Detail’ to view CERS IDs included in the Report 6 summary. Later you can compare this data with the results from the Facility/Tank Data Download report.
    Screenshot of checking the box labeled ‘Include Breakdown Detail’ on the UT Program Report: Inspection Summary Report by Regulator (Report 6) page

    Select the ‘Breakdown Detail’ tab at the bottom of the report to display the details:
    Screenshot of selecting the “Breakdown Detail’ tab at the bottom of the report

    Screenshot of the report displaying the details under the ‘Breakdown Detail’ tab

Step 2: Verify the number of UST Facilities in Report 6 is correct

  • Every UST facility in your jurisdiction must have a UST Submittal Element in CERS that is set to ‘applicable’ or ‘always applicable’. You can confirm this number by performing a search in the Facility section for all facilities with the UST submittal element set to ‘applicable’ or ‘always applicable’.
    Screenshot of UST Submittal Element in CERS showing it set to ‘applicable’ or ‘always applicable’
  • If the search results total number matches the correct number of UST facilities in your jurisdiction you can move on to step 3. If not, you need to identify which facilities are causing the inconsistency. Follow these steps:
    • After you perform the search in the Facility section for all facilities with the UST submittal element set to ‘applicable’ or ‘always applicable’ export the results to Excel using either of the links in the lower right hand corner of the table.
      Screenshot of exporting the search results to Excel in the lower right hand corner of the table
    • Run a UST Facility/Tank Data Download report from the Reports section. Click on the link to get the Excel list of UST sites.
      Screenshot of how to run a “UST Facility/Tank Data Download’ report from the Reports section

      Screenshot of generating excel report from the UST Facility/Tank Data Download Report
    • Compare the two tables and the list of CERS IDs in the Breakdown detail of Report 6 to find the facilities that are not on all three tables. Investigate to determine the reason for the inconsistency for each facility and take appropriate action. These tables must match and must include all known UST sites in your jurisdiction before going to the next step.
    • Exception: Sites where all tanks have been permanently closed or removed will be listed in the UST Facility/Tank Data Download, provided there is at least one ‘accepted’ UST submittal, but they will not be in Report 6 if the UST submittal element has been set to ‘not applicable’. Report this as an anomaly on your Report 6 or in the email certification if you are reporting using the paperless process. Note: this inconsistency will be corrected in CERS 3.

Step 3: Verify the number of underground tank systems in columns B through H

Screenshot of where to verify the number of underground tank systems in columns B through H
  • Once the number of UST facilities in CERS is correct, the number of tank systems listed in Report 6 should be consistent with the number reported in the UST Facility/Tank Data Download report and with your internal records. Staff familiar with the UST sites should review to ensure that UST facilities properly reported each UST. Note that for compartmented tanks, each compartment must be reported as a separate UST. Any inaccuracies should be reported to the business along with a request for an updated UST submittal. Temporarily closed USTs are not included in the count of active UST systems.
  • CERS counts of Petroleum and Hazardous Substance systems are based on the ‘Tank Contents’ field visible in the UST Facility/Tank Data Download report.
    • Petroleum systems include Regular, Premium, Midgrade Unleaded, Diesel, Jet Fuel, Aviation Gas, Petroleum Blend Fuel and Other Petroleum.
    • Hazardous Substance systems include Used Oil, Ethanol, Other Non-Petroleum.
    • ‘Tank Use’ field data is not included in determining the tank counts in Report 6.
  • Make sure all USTs have a valid date in the “Date UST System Installed” box on the UST Tank Information page (field #435). CERS uses this date to calculate the number of active USTs and new UST systems installed in the Report 6.
  • The number of closed UST systems is covered later in this FAQ (Step 6).

Step 4: Confirm ‘# Routine Inspections’, column I, equals the sum of the totals displayed for the Significant Operational Compliance (SOC) Determinations, columns J, K, L and M.

  • If they are not equal you can scan the breakdown to see which site was incorrectly reported:
    Correct:
    Screenshot of correct way to view the breakdown to see which site was incorrectly reported from column I, J, K, L, and M

    Not Correct:
    Screenshot of the incorrect way to view the breakdown to see which site was incorrectly reported from column I, J, K, L, and M
  • If the numbers are not equal run the UST CME Data Download report and select the ‘UST Inspections’ link.
    Screenshot of running the UST CME Data Download report

    Screenshot of selecting the ‘UST Inspections’ link under the CERS UST CME Data Download
  • Review columns 907 and 913a. (Note that Fields 910, 911, 912 are automatically populated when violations are created in the CME section of CERS and are not limited to Release Detection (RD) or Release Prevention (RP) violations.)
    • For each ‘Routine’ inspection in field 907 there should be an entry in field 913a. (SOC determination should be set only for initial routine compliance inspections. If you are manually entering CME Data into CERS, enter the SOC determination on the ‘create inspection’ screen.)
      • Note: If you report no violations for the inspection the SOC status should always be ‘SOC with both RD and RP’.
      • If you report any RP and RD violations, even minor, the facility cannot be in SOC because SOC is not recording whether a facility is significantly out of compliance, but whether it is in compliance with significant requirements.
    • For each ‘Other’ inspection in field 907 field 913a should be blank. If 913a has an entry for an ‘other’ inspection the inspection record should be revised to delete the SOC determination. Even if left in, CERS will not count SOC determinations for ‘Other’ inspections.
    • Screenshot of reviewing columns 907 and 913a

Step 5: Verifying all Red Tags are entered in CERS

  • Run a Red Tag Facility Details report. If all known Red Tags are not listed in this report you will need to enter them in the Compliance section of CERS under Enforcement. Note that the Red Tag report only lists the facility, not which tank(s) is red-tagged. To note specific tank(s) use the comment field in the Create Enforcement or Edit Enforcement screens. This comment field is displayed as field 925 in the UST CME Download Report referenced in step 5 above. Further details are provided in the ‘How to Enter Red Tag Information FAQ’.
    Screenshot of running a Red tag Facility Details report

Maintaining an accurate Report 6 and other UST related data in CERS

Once you have established an accurate base of UST related information in CERS maintenance is straightforward. The following outlines the steps to maintaining the UST data so that your agency meets reporting requirements and the Water Board and US EPA can access your agency’s UST data directly in CERS.

  • CERS Facilities are required to provide notice within 30 days of a significant change in their HMBP. A UST tank removal or installation is a significant change so any facility installing or removing a UST should make submittals to CERS within that timeframe to update both the HMBP and UST submittal elements. Sites where all USTs have been closed or removed and non UST sites that install a new UST can be included in CERS reports based on these submittals.
    • It may be difficult to get sites that have closed and are no longer regulated to report one last submittal to CERS confirming all tanks have been permanently closed or removed. If the facility does not make such a submittal, CUPAs with Tiers 5 and 6 EDT services can make a proxy submittal that includes the tank closure information. CUPAs and PAs that do not have these EDT services can add themselves to the business organization as a lead user to make a submittal that includes the tank closure information. In both instances, a comment should be added to the additional description field clarifying the reason for the submittal by the UPA.
      Screenshot of selecting the type of action for the UST
  • Similarly, maintaining the number of UST systems is contingent upon timely submittals from UST facilities. The count of closed USTs in Report 6 is based on UST submittals reporting installations or closures during the previous reporting period.
  • For routine business reporting tracking, you can run a ‘Facilities Reporting Status’ Report in the Reports section of CERS. It will give you a list within a specified date range for any submittal element of who has reported and who has not.

Step 7: Provide timely review and ‘acceptance’ of UST submittals

  • UST submittals must be reviewed and accepted before the data will be included in many of the UST reports. When reviewing UST submittals verify that the number of tanks and compartments is reported correctly. Verify there is at least one financial responsibility mechanism.

Step 8: Provide timely reporting of UST CME data

  • For any agency that is manually entering CME data in CERS, an SOC determination should be entered for all initial routine compliance inspections. Agencies with electronic data transfer (EDT) capability may have software that automatically sets and reports the SOC determination as part of the EDT process.

Step 9: Periodic CERS Report validation

  • Periodically perform steps 1 through 6 to verify that the data in CERS is current and correct.

UST FAQ: Is ICC Certification Required for Submittal Review?

Question: Must a person possess a current inspector certification issued by the International Code Council (ICC) in order to review and accept submitted underground storage tank (UST) data elements in the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS)-Updated 3/29/2016

Answer: Yes, any person reviewing and accepting submitted UST data elements in CERS or a local reporting portal must possess a current inspector certification issued by the ICC. The applicable code sections are provided below.

Non ICC certified staff can perform an initial processing/review of a UST submittal in CERS and could set the submittal status to ‘under review’. Final review could be conducted at a later date by ICC certified staff who could then set the submittal status to ‘accepted’ if the submittal is found to be acceptable. Note that submittal status can also be changed after the fact, so if a submittal is ‘accepted’ and later found to be deficient, the status could be set to ‘not accepted’. Also, non ICC staff can set the submittal status to 'not accepted' for "backlog" submittals when there is a newer submittal for the ICC certified staff to review. In that case, a comment stating that the submittal was not accepted do to a newer submittal being available should be noted.

Background information:

California Health & Safety Code, section 25288(a) specifies an inspection is to determine whether the tank system complies with the applicable requirements of this chapter and the regulations adopted by the board pursuant to section 25299.3. This includes the design and construction standards of sections 25290.1, 25290.2, 25291, or 25292, whichever is applicable, whether the owner or operator has monitored and tested the tank system as required by the permit, and whether the tank system is in a safe operating condition. The State Water Resources Control Board has determined that reviewing and approving submitted UST information is an element of part of performing UST compliance and inspection.

California Health and Safety Code, section 25284.1 requires UST owners, operators, installers, service technicians, and inspectors to satisfy minimum industry-established training criteria. To demonstrate compliance with the minimum industry-established training criteria, California Code of Regulations, Title 23, Section 2715(j) specifies that UST inspectors shall possess a current International Code Council (ICC) California UST Inspector certificate. To obtain this certificate, inspectors must pass the ICC California UST Inspector exam. All UST compliance and inspection activities must be conducted by a certified inspector.

Download Business User Email Accounts

Question: How can I obtain a list of the email contact information for all regulated facilities in my jurisdiction?

Answer: This feature was added to the CERS Tools section in January 2013.

After you have logged into CERS, select ‘Tools’ in the upper right corner of the Regulator portal:

Screenshot of selecting ‘Tools’ in the upper right corner of the Regulator portal on the CERS Regulator home page

Select ‘Download CERS User Accounts for a UPA’s Businesses’

Screenshot of selecting ‘Download CERS User Accounts for a UPA’s Businesses’

Select your agency:

Screenshot of selecting your agency

The downloaded table displays the following:

  • First and last name of each business user
  • Email address for each business user
  • Last CERS sign-n date
  • Business organization name
  • Business headquarters
  • Organization code number (a unique number for each business organization)
  • Total number of facilities in the state
  • Number of business users
  • CERS ID number if there is only one facility in the state

Reporting Re-inspections

Question: How should I report re-inspections or follow up inspections? How should I report related violations?

Answer: Re-inspections, also called follow up inspections, should be reported to CERS as ‘Other’ inspections. Only the initial inspection should be counted as a ‘Routine’ Inspection.

If violations were observed during the initial routine inspection all subsequent related RTC, corrective and enforcement information should be entered into the routine inspection record.

  • Add a statement to the comment field: “Inspection is a follow up to the routine inspection dated xx/xx/xxxx. All violations observed during that inspection were / were not corrected.”
    Each follow up inspection would contain the same statement referring back to the routine inspection.
  • Addition of any new observed violations. In this case, the subsequent related information would be entered into this ‘Other’ Inspection. Re-inspections are conducted to confirm that previously observed violations have been corrected and therefore should not be another complete inspection of the regulated facility. However, there are occasions when you will observe new violations in the course of your re-inspection and these do need to be tracked and managed.

California Code of Regulations Title 27 Data Dictionary description for field 907, Inspection type, states, ‘…A routine inspection is a regularly scheduled inspection to evaluate compliance. Does not include follow-up inspections. (emphasis added) Other inspections include complaint investigations, closure, release investigations, tank installation and/or removal oversight, tank cleaning, and follow-up enforcement inspections (emphasis added), or other inspections that may be in addition to a regularly scheduled inspection….’. The CalEPA/CFB Guidance Document for Inspection and Enforcement (April 15, 2008) does not define 're-inspection'. However, the 'Sample Inspection and Enforcement Plan from Sacramento County (Revised Oct 15, 2013) posted to the CalEPA website defines a re-inspection as, '...a field inspection conducted outside the regulatory frequency.' The Water Board's instructions for completing the quarterly report (Report 6) state that '...do not count...corrective action inspections.'

Reporting Abandoned USTs

Question: Should abandoned underground storage tanks (USTs) be reported in CERS? (Note: There is a duplicate FAQ in the CERS Business Portal Help) (08/15/17)

Answer: That depends. Long-abandoned USTs that are discovered, that were never previously regulated, and are not intended to be placed back into service are not required to be reported to CERS as long as a proposal to close or remove the UST(s) is submitted to the CUPA or PA having jurisdiction within 30 days of discovery. Similarly, accounts in CERS shall not be created for sites where a long- abandoned, never regulated UST(s) is found, and the sites have no other Unified Program regulated activities, solely for the purpose of reporting such long-abandoned UST(s).

This does not apply to any UST installed on or after January 1, 1984, any operational UST, any abandoned UST discovered containing product, or any temporarily closed USTs or abandoned USTs that were previously regulated by the CUPA or PA. For example, if a regulated UST facility goes out of business and later a new business moves in and ‘discovers’ a UST, the new business is required to report the UST to CERS even if they intend to permanently close or remove the UST. All operational, temporarily closed, and abandoned USTs that were previously regulated shall be reported to CERS or to a local reporting portal, regardless if there are other Unified Program regulated activities at the site.

Based on the following code citations, notification and proposal to close the tank(s) shall be provided to the CUPA or PA within 30 days of the discovery of abandoned UST(s). Failure to notify the CUPA or PA of the discovery of an abandoned UST(s) and failure to provide a proposal to close or remove the UST(s) may result in enforcement action including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per day.

For more information contact your local CUPA or PA. For help contacting the appropriate agency use the CalEPA Unified Program directory.

Code references:

California Health and Safety Code (HSC) Chapter 6.7 Section 25298: No person shall abandon a UST. HSC Section 25299(a) provides for a civil penalty of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) or more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each underground storage tank for each day of violation for failure to properly close a UST.

California Code of Regulations, Title 23, Section 2670(f): At least 30 days prior to closure a proposal to close shall be submitted to the CUPA or PA.

When should a submittal be made for repairs or new USTs?

Question: UST FAQ: When should a UPA require a CERS submittal for existing UST repairs or for new UST installations?

New USTs

A UPA may require a business to report to CERS or a local reporting portal (a ‘CERS submittal’) a submittal that includes the Facility Information, Hazardous Materials Inventory, Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Plan/Training Plan, and the UST submittal element as a condition before authorizing the introduction of any hazardous materials to the new UST. A UPA may not make the CERS submittal a condition of issuing a permit to install a UST. USTs are not subject to reporting requirements until they contain regulated substances.

Further, requiring a CERS submittal for a new UST as a condition of issuing the permit to construct/install is less than ideal for these reasons:

  • UST installations are typically done by contractors that rarely have access to CERS for their clients.
  • If a submittal is made, then CERS will show a new UST with hazardous materials long before the hazardous materials are actually present onsite so the HMIS and the UST submittal elements will be incorrect.

Repairs to Existing USTs

HSC 25286 states that notification of any changes in the usage of the UST shall be made within the period determined by the local agency. The State Water Resources Control Board recommends that an updated CERS submittal be required within 30 days or less after the completion of any repair or modification.

A similar UST FAQ has been posted to the Business Help portal to alert businesses that they are required to make a complete CERS submittal prior to adding any hazardous materials to a new UST and to advise the business to contact the UPA for reporting requirements for UST repairs and modifications.

Question: CME FAQ: How to Report Non‐Inspection Related Violations

How should non‐inspection related violations be reported in CERS?

Answer: Violations that are unrelated to an inspection should be reported in CERS with the designation of ‘other inspection’. This includes violations such as ‘failure to report’ and other violations that may be identified without conducting an on‐site inspection. Add clarifying text in the Inspection Comment field and your name.

Screenshot of ow to report non-inspection related violations

Can Submittals be Deleted?

Question: Can submittals be deleted from CERS? What if a submittal was submitted to the wrong facility (CERS ID)?

Answer: In general, submittals cannot be deleted from CERS because they are a legal reporting of required information by a regulated facility. A business user who claims that a submittal is wrong can make a new submittal and provide a comment to the regulator that the latest submittal supersedes the previous one but the previous submittal will not be deleted from CERS.

However, there are a couple of exceptions: Occasionally a business user that is associated with more than one facility may accidentally make a submission for one facility (a specific CERS ID) to another (a different CERS ID). This can happen with business organizations that have more than one facility or with consultants that may have more than one client. Or, someone makes a frivolous submittal for a false facility.

In these instances the answer is yes. CalEPA Technical Services Unit (TSU) can delete an incorrect submittal as follows:

  • An authorized business lead user associated with the ‘wrong’ facility (the one that received the submittal) must make a request by email or in writing to TSU (CERS@calepa.ca.gov) and to their UPA to delete the incorrect submittal.
  • The request must identify the incorrect CERS ID where that submittal was made, the date of the submittal and a statement to the following:
    • The submittal made on xx/xx/xxxx at xx:xx am/pm was submitted on the incorrect CERS ID and is not associated with the facility identified by CERS ID xxxxxxxxx.
  • The UPA must agree by email or in writing to the CERS TSU that the submittal was made to the wrong CERS ID.
  • Upon notice from both the business lead user and from the UPA, TSU will delete the submittal within 5 business days. In cases where the submittal determined to be for a false facility and there is no legitimate business user, only the UPA request is necessary.
  • TSU will save a pdf copy of the request to delete and the approval of the UPA in the ‘Documents’ section of the ‘wrong’ facility (the one that received the incorrect submittal) business organization (see screenshot below).
  • Note that even if the UPA has reviewed and changed the submittal status if both parties agree that the submittal was made to the wrong facility it can be deleted based on the fact that the submittal is not associated with the facility.

Rationale: A submittal associated with the wrong facility could create serious potential problems. It would be accessible to emergency responders and if inadvertently used by them as a resource for an incident would provide them with false information about the hazards at the facility. In a public records search it might not be clear to the reader that a particular submittal is not really related to the site. That could lead to incorrect assumptions and decisions such as holding a facility accountable for something for which they were not responsible or deciding not to complete a real estate transaction.

The screenshots below show where the business user and the regulator user can find the submittal number.

Business view: Select the incorrect submittal from the Submittals section of CERS and use the submittal date and time in the request to delete.

Screenshot of where the business user can find the submittal number after selecting the incorrect submittal from the Submittals section of CERS

Regulator view: You can find the incorrect submittal from the Submittals section of CERS or you can first find the facility using the Facilities section to find the site that received the incorrect facility and then select the incorrect submittal.

Screenshot of where the regulator user can find the incorrect submittal from the submittals sections of CERS

CalEPA Technical Services Unit will save a pdf copy of the request and the UPA approval in the documents section:

Screenshot of how to find a pdf copy of the request and the UPA approval in the documents section

When Can a UST Operating Permit be Issued?

Question: UST FAQ: Can a UPA issue a UST operating permit if the facility has not submitted electronically to CERS or a local portal? What if they have submitted but the UPA does not accept the submittal?

Answer: No. The Facility Information and UST submittal elements at minimum must be reported to CERS or to a local portal before an operating permit can be issued. This information must be current for the reporting year in accordance with the established submittal anniversary date set by the CUPA or PA.

The second question is more complex because there are several possible scenarios. If the facility submittal is not accepted by the UPA should the UPA issue the operating permit?

  • Answer: It depends.
    • If the submittal is only marginally deficient, the UPA could
      1. choose to ‘not accept’ the submittal and issue the operating permit
      2. choose to ‘not accept’ the submittal and NOT issue the permit
      3. choose to ‘accept’ with conditions that a resubmittal be made and issue the operating permit
    • The Water Board recommends the third option; accept the submittal conditional upon a corrected submittal within a specified timeframe. This allows the business to operate but does not relieve them of their responsibility to correct the submittal deficiencies.
    • If the submittal is seriously deficient, the UPA should not accept the submittal and not issue the operating permit until a corrected submittal is made.
    • Another possible scenario is that the business reports electronically but the UPA does not review the submittal. In this instance the Water Board recommends that the operating permit be issued with a condition that if the submittal is later found to be deficient a corrected submittal will be required within a specified timeframe. Please note that this practice may result in a deficiency for the UPA during its program evaluation. UPAs should not prevent a business from operating or put the facility in the position of operating without a valid operating permit because of UPA staffing or resource deficiencies but delaying the issuance of an operating permit for these reasons is not acceptable and may result in a deficiency for the UPA during its program evaluation.

To avoid potential operational restrictions based on an unacceptable or late submittal, UPAs should advise regulated businesses to report well in advance of the expiration date of the current operating permit. They should further advise their regulated businesses that significant deficiencies in submittals or failure to submit will result in a delay in the issuance of the operational permits.

Code references:

CCR Title 23, chapter 16, section 2712 states that the local agency shall not renew an underground storage tank permit unless the underground storage tank has been inspected by the local agency or a special inspector within the previous 12 months and the inspection verified that the underground storage tank complied with the provisions of Article 3 or 4, as applicable, and with all existing permit conditions. The inspection shall be conducted as specified in section 25288 of Chapter 6.7 of Division 20 of the Health and Safety Code. Part of this inspection (as outlined in regulations and summarized in LG 159) includes compliance with various forms or information being submitted to the CUPA or PA. If that information required by regulation has not been reported electronically then it is a violation and the permit cannot be issued. The HMIS is included in this interpretation because it includes critical emergency response information including the quantity of hazardous materials contained in the UST and the location of the UST(s). HSC section 25508.1 specifies that significant changes are required to be reported within 30 days.

CCR Title 23, chapter 16, section 2712:

2712(c) ...Before a local agency issues a new permit or renewal to operate an underground storage tank the local agency shall inspect the underground storage tank and determine that it complies with the provisions of these regulations.
2712(e) The local agency shall not renew an underground storage tank permit unless the underground storage tank has been inspected by the local agency or a special inspector within the previous 12 months and the inspection verified that the underground storage tank complied with the provisions of Article 3 or 4, as applicable, and with all existing permit conditions.

California Health and Safety Code Section 25508.1. Within 30 days of any one of the following events, a business subject to this article shall electronically update the information submitted to the statewide information management system: (a) A 100 percent or more increase in the quantity of a previously disclosed material. (b) Any handling of a previously undisclosed hazardous material subject to the inventory requirements of this article. (c) Change of business address. (d) Change of business ownership. (e) Change of business name. (f) (1) A substantial change in the handler's operations occurs that requires modification to any portion of the business plan. (2) For the purposes of this subdivision, "substantial change" means any change in a regulated facility that would inhibit immediate response during an emergency by either site personnel or emergency rescue personnel, or that could inhibit the handler's ability to comply with Section 25507, change the operational knowledge of the facility, or impede implementation of the business plan.

4/13/2015 Revision note: This FAQ was updated to remove reference to the requirement to submit the Hazardous Materials Inventory Statement (HMIS), Emergency Response and Training Plan (ERTP) in the first paragraph of the original version. While all UST facilities are also regulated under the Hazardous Materials Business Plan program and a valid HMBP is required under that program, failure to submit an HMBP is not a violation under the UST program reporting requirements and therefore would not be justification for withholding a UST operating permit.

Setting 'Accepted' Submittal Status

Question: What criteria should be considered for accepting a Submittal? (1/28/2015)

Answer: In CERS 2 the submittal status ‘accepted’ is used to include a range of submittal reviews. It could be a completeness review that is performed in the office by an inspector or other staff member that may have limited or no direct familiarity with the facility, or it could be a review that is based on an inspection at the facility to validate the information reported is consistent with the observations by the inspector.

Because of this current limitation the comment field should be used to clarify the type of acceptance and to indicate if there are conditions associated with the acceptance.

Completeness Review: The CERS Regulator User Group previously established minimally required submittal fields and documents for a submittal to occur so every submittal must at minimum meet these criteria in order for a submittal to be made in CERS. A completeness review is performed to ensure that the required submittal elements have been reported and that there are no apparent glaring omissions or errors. For example, an HMBP submittal would be reviewed to confirm that the Facility information, HMIS and Emergency Response and Training Plan submittal elements were submitted and that each submittal element appears complete. If the submittal was for a plating shop the reviewer would expect to see a list of plating solutions in the HMIS and a site plan showing the location of plating tanks. If it was a gas station the reviewer would expect to see gasoline listed in the HMIS. If there were also a UST submittal the reviewer could verify that the UST contents and quantities are listed in the HMIS and that there is either a separate UST site plan or the UST site plan information has been integrated into the HMIS site plan. Completeness reviews should typically not be time intensive.

Submittal status options after a completeness review:

  • Accept with conditions:
    • Subject to field inspection to be scheduled in accordance with the UPA’s existing inspection schedule
    • Subject to correction of submittal errors or omissions and resubmittal within a set timeframe that does not exceed the next regularly scheduled annual inspection
  • Not Accept if the submittal is found to be significantly deficient.

Site Inspection Verification: An inspection has been performed and the submittal information has been verified as part of the inspection. If the submittal was previously set to ‘accepted’ for a completeness review, the inspector can add a comment that the site inspection validated the submittal. If the submittal status had not been previously set the inspector would set the submittal status to ‘accepted’ and add a comment: Site Inspection on xx/xx/xxxx verified submittal.

Submittal status options after a site inspection verification:

  • Accept with no conditions
  • Accept with condition:
    • Subject to correction of submittal errors or omissions and resubmittal within a set timeframe that does not exceed the next regularly scheduled annual inspection
  • Not Accept if the submittal is found to be significantly deficient.

Using the Comment Field:

Enter the type of acceptance; Completeness review or Site Inspection Verification. Enter any conditions. Enter any other relevant information. Be specific so the business user clearly knows what they need to do. There is a 1,500 character limit so if extensive text is required provide the most critical information in the comment field. Separately send an email or letter and reference it in the comment field.

Changing the Submittal Status

The submittal status can be changed at any time from ‘accepted’ to ‘not accepted’. For example, if a submittal is accepted after a completeness review it can be set to ‘not accepted’ if a subsequent site inspection verification reveals significant deficiencies. Any time the submittal status is changed an automated notice is sent to the business user. As described below, setting the status to ‘not accepted’ requires an explanation be provided in the comment field.

Current Submittal Status Options

CERS 2 provides the following choices for setting a submittal status. Additional submittal status options will be considered for CERS 3 to at least differentiate between acceptance based on a completeness review and a site verification inspection.

  • Submitted. Default submittal status set automatically when a submittal is received in CERS. The submittal element was submitted to CERS by the facility’s owner/operator and meets minimal data validation requirements. No action has yet been taken by the facility’s regulator.
  • Accepted. Regulator has reviewed the submitted program element and finds the data/documents meet state and local reporting requirements. The Regulator has not necessarily field-verified the submitted data.
  • Not Accepted. Regulator has reviewed the submitted program element and finds the data/documents do not meet state and local reporting requirements. Regulator has required the business to make a new submission of the submittal element. Note: CERS requires the regulator provide a comment to explain the reason for this submittal status.
  • Under Review. Regulator is reviewing the submittal element. This is an optional status a Regulator can use to express to the facility’s business (and other regulators) they are or intend to review a submittal.
  • Not Applicable. Regulator has reviewed the submittal element and determined it is not required. The business should not submit this submittal element data to the regulator. Submittals marked as Not Applicable will not be included in any CERS2 statistical reports, and businesses/organizations will not receive future reminders/alerts for the submittal element.
    • For the Facility Information submittal, the CERS text states:
      • If you select “Not Applicable” for this “Facility Information” element, you are indicating this facility is no longer regulated under the Unified Program IN ANY WAY. All other program/submittal elements for this facility will be marked as “Not Applicable” as well. Submittals marked as Not Applicable will not be included in any CERS2 statistical reports, and businesses/organizations will not receive future reminders/alerts for the submittal element.
  • No Status Change: Select this option only when you want to modify/update the Comment to Business and/or Next Reporting Due Date. When modifying Comments, list the new/updated comments first and retain all or as much of the previous comments as possible/appropriate.

How to Report Multi-Day Inspections in CERS

Question: How should Multi-Day Inspections be reported in CERS?

Answer: Multi-day inspections, even those that take weeks or months for very large campus-type facilities should be reported as one inspection regardless of the number of days needed to complete the inspection. The term multi-day inspection in this FAQ refers to the number of days it takes to complete an initial routine inspection, or to complete one ‘other’ inspection. This term does not include re inspections to determine return to compliance or follow up inspections such as installation inspections that occur as a project progresses.

Violation dates reported in CERS may not be the same date as the inspection date reported in CERS as violations may be observed at any time during a multi-day inspection. If appropriate, a comment may be entered referring the reader to the full inspection record maintained by the UPA for more details.

For reporting in CERS, enter the starting date of the inspection in the ‘Inspection Date’ field as shown below. CalEPA does not require it but if an inspection end date is desired, use the comment field.

Screenshot of reporting in CERS the starting date of the inspection in the ‘Inspection Date’ field

Enter the Violations, if any:

Screenshot of where to enter violations, if any

Enter the date the violation was observed:

Screenshot of entering the date the violation was obsereved

If the violation date entered is a different calendar year than the date of the inspection a comment may be added that the violation is part of the routine inspection that started xx/xx/xxxx.

Citations for failure to report Unified Program Information

Question: How should Unified program Agencies (UPAs) cite violations for failure to report Unified Program Information? Updated 6/21/2016

Answer: UPAs should be citing “Reporting” violations based on each applicable program element requirement for reporting information. In addition, UPAs should be using the penalties established within each program elements’ governing statute and regulation. Reporting violations are not electronic reporting or CERS reporting related violations, but rather violations of the requirements established for each program element to report information. Electronic reporting is the required method for reporting Unified Program information, not the impetus for reporting such information.

Reporting violations are listed in the Administration/Documentation section of each Violation Program of the CERS Violation Library at https://cersbusiness.calepa.ca.gov/public/violations/.

Screenshot of where to find how to report violations in the Administration/Documentation section of each Violation Program of the CERS Violation Library

In general, penalties for the various program elements are found in state law as follows:

  • HMBP - HSC Sections 25515 and 25515.2
  • UST - HSC Section 25299
  • HWG - HSC Sections 25188 and 25190
  • CalARP - HSC Section 25540

NOTE: Although all program elements have reporting violations and penalties established for such violations, the regulations adopted for the Hazardous Waste Generator, Hazardous Materials Business Plan, and Underground Storage Tank programs may not be consistent with the electronic reporting requirement contained in HSC, Chapter 6.11 and in the Title 27 regulations. The regulations may not have been updated to recognize reporting information electronically. Titles 19, 22, and 23 may still refer to the Unified Program Consolidated Form, which no longer exists. Regardless of these outdated and conflicting regulations, the governing statutes are the controlling law.

Statute Citations

HMBP

25515.
(a) A business that violates Sections 25504 to 25508.2, inclusive, or Section 25511, shall be civilly liable to the unified program agency in an amount of not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000) for each day in which the violation occurs. If the violation results in, or significantly contributes to, an emergency, including a fire, the business shall also be assessed the full cost of the county or city emergency response, as well as the cost of cleaning up and disposing of the hazardous materials. (b) A business that knowingly violates Sections 25504 to 25508.2, inclusive, or Section 25510.1, after reasonable notice of the violation shall be civilly liable to the unified program agency in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each day in which the violation occurs.
(Repealed and added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 419, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2014.)
25515.2.
(a) Notwithstanding Section 25515, a business that violates this article is liable to a unified program agency for an administrative penalty not greater than two thousand dollars ($2,000) for each day in which the violation occurs. If the violation results in, or significantly contributes to, an emergency, including a fire or health or medical problem requiring toxicological, health, or medical consultation, the business shall also be assessed the full cost of the county, city, fire district, local EMS agency designated pursuant to Section 1797.200, or poison control center as defined by Section 1797.97, emergency response, as well as the cost of cleaning up and disposing of the hazardous materials. (b) Notwithstanding Section 25515, a business that knowingly violates this article after reasonable notice of the violation is liable for an administrative penalty, not greater than five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each day in which the violation occurs. (c) When a unified program agency issues an enforcement order or assesses an administrative penalty, or both, for a violation of this article, the unified program agency shall utilize the administrative enforcement procedures, including the hearing procedures, specified in Sections 25404.1.1 and 25404.1.2.
(Repealed and added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 419, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2014.)

UST

25299.
(a) An operator of an underground tank system shall be liable for a civil penalty of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) or more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each underground storage tank for each day of violation for any of the following violations:
(1) Operating an underground tank system that has not been issued a permit, in violation of this chapter.
(2) Violation of an applicable requirement of the permit issued for the operation of the underground tank system.
(3) Failure to maintain records, as required by this chapter.
(4) Failure to report an unauthorized release, as required by Sections 25294 and 25295.
(5) Failure to properly close an underground tank system, as required by Section 25298.
(6) Violation of an applicable requirement of this chapter or any regulation adopted by the board pursuant to Section 25299.3.
(7) Failure to permit inspection or to perform a monitoring, testing, or reporting required pursuant to Section 25288 or 25289.
(8) Making a false statement, representation, or certification in an application, record, report, or other document submitted or required to be maintained pursuant to this chapter.
(9) Tampering with or otherwise disabling automatic leak detection devices or alarms.
(b) An owner of an underground tank system shall be liable for a civil penalty of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) or more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) per day for each underground storage tank, for each day of violation, for any of the following violations:
(1) Failure to obtain a permit as specified by this chapter.
(2) Failure to repair or upgrade an underground tank system in accordance with this chapter.
(3) Abandonment or improper closure of an underground tank system subject to this chapter.
(4) Violation of an applicable requirement of the permit issued for operation of the underground tank system.
(5) Violation of an applicable requirement of this chapter or a regulation adopted by the board pursuant to Section 25299.3.
(6) Failure to permit inspection or to perform a monitoring, testing, or reporting required pursuant to Section 25288 or 25289.
(7) Making a false statement, representation, or certification in an application, record, report, or other document submitted or required to be maintained pursuant to this chapter.
(c) A person who intentionally fails to notify the board, the regional board, or the local agency when required to do so by this chapter or who submits false information in a permit application, amendment, or renewal, pursuant to Section 25286, is liable for a civil penalty of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each underground storage tank for which notification is not given or false information is submitted.
(d) (1) A person who violates a corrective action requirement established by, or issued pursuant to, Section 25296.10 is liable for a civil penalty of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each underground storage tank for each day of violation.
(2) A civil penalty under this subdivision may be imposed in a civil action under this chapter, or may be administratively imposed by the board or a regional board pursuant to Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 13323) of Chapter 5 of Division 7 of the Water Code.
(e) A person who violates Section 25292.3 is liable for a civil penalty of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each underground storage tank for each day of violation.
(f) (1) A person who falsifies any monitoring records required by this chapter, or knowingly fails to report an unauthorized release, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) or more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), by imprisonment in the county jail for not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(2) A person who intentionally disables or tampers with an automatic leak detection system in a manner that would prevent the automatic leak detection system from detecting a leak or alerting the owner or operator of the leak, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) or more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment.
(g) In determining both the civil and criminal penalties imposed pursuant to this section, the board, a regional board, or the court, as the case may be, shall consider all relevant circumstances, including, but not limited to, the extent of harm or potential harm caused by the violation, the nature of the violation and the period of time over which it occurred, the frequency of past violations, and the corrective action, if any, taken by the person who holds the permit.
(h) (1) A civil penalty or criminal fine imposed pursuant to this section for a separate violation shall be separate, and in addition to, any other civil penalty or criminal fine imposed pursuant to this section or any other provision of law, except that no civil penalty shall be recovered under subdivision
(d) for violations for which a civil penalty is recovered pursuant to Section 13268 or 13350 of the Water Code. The penalty or fine shall be paid to the unified program agency, the participating agency, or the state, whichever is represented by the office of the city attorney, district attorney, or Attorney General bringing the action.

HWG

25188.
Any person subject to a schedule for compliance issued pursuant to Section 25187 who does not comply with that schedule shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) for each day of noncompliance.
25190.
Except as otherwise provided in Sections 25189.5, 25189.6, 25189.7, and 25191, any person who violates any provision of this chapter, or any permit, rule, regulation, standard, or requirement issued or adopted pursuant to this chapter, is, upon conviction, guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment for up to six months in a county jail or by both that fine and imprisonment.

CalARP

25540.
(a) Any person or stationary source that violates this article shall be civilly or administratively liable to the unified program agency in an amount of not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000) for each day in which the violation occurs. If the violation results in, or significantly contributes to, an emergency, including a fire, the person or stationary source shall also be assessed the full cost of the county or city emergency response, as well as the cost of cleaning up and disposing of the hazardous materials.

Reporting Multiple Identical Violations in CERS

Question: How should multiple identical violations be reported in CERS: as a single violation with multiple instances or as multiple violations?

Answer: That depends on the Unified Program element as described below. This FAQ relates to reporting in CERS and is not intended to affect how violations are documented in an inspection record.

CERS Submittals

CERS submittals are generally reviewed by the UPA and if found to be unacceptable, the submission status is set to ‘not acceptable’. The facility is notified, required to make corrections and resubmit. However, a failure to report or in some cases where a submittal is found to be deficient during an inspection the violations would be reported as a single violation for each applicable Unified Program element. For example, if a facility is subject to both the HMBP and UST program elements and fails to make a submission for either program element, a separate violation would be reported for each program element.

Aboveground Petroleum Storage, State Fire Marshal

The State Fire Marshal’s Office recommends that similar violations for similar types of tanks be reported as a single violation with multiple instances. However, similar violations for different types of tanks or containers, such as bulk storage container vs. mobile refuelers or oil-filled equipment, would be reported as separate violations. Regarding the SPCC Plan, violations are based on: 1) whether the tank facility has prepared their SPCC Plan in accordance with the federal requirements, and 2) whether the tank facility is actually implementing their SPCC Plan as written. If a facility fails to prepare an SPCC Plan it would be reported as a single violation, regardless of the number of tanks at the facility. Similarly, if the facility is failing to implement the SPCC Plan for more than one tank it would be reported as a single violation.

Hazardous Materials Business Plan/Cal Accidental Release Program, CalOES

CalOES requirements pertain to business reporting and would typically be reported in CERS as a single reporting deficiency for the facility as described above under the Submittals section. For example, failing to report two hazardous materials on an HMIS would be reported in CERS as a single violation.

Underground Storage Tanks, State Water Board

The State Water Board recommends that violations of the same type be reported as a single violation with multiple instances. For example, two failed UDC sensors would be reported as a single violation. It is recommended that a comment be added to indicate the number of instances observed of this violation and to which UST systems the violations are linked. This does not change the State Water Board requirement to link each violation to specific USTs or UST systems on the official inspection report.

Hazardous Waste, Tiered Permit, RCRA Large Quantity Generator, DTSC

DTSC recommends that violations of the same type be reported as a single violation with multiple instances. For example, an inspector finds ten hazardous waste drums that are missing the ‘start accumulation date.’ This would be reported as a single violation. A comment should be added to indicate the number of instances observed of this violation. For violations at multiple treatment units in the same tier, such as several unmarked PBR units, DTSC recommends reporting one violation with multiple instances.

Determining Unified Program Element Regulated Facility Count

Question: How to determine the number of regulated facilities by Unified Program Element?

Answer: Find the count of regulated facilities for a Unified Program element by using the appropriate search criteria indicated below.

Program Element Search Criteria
HMRRP Reporting Requirement for submittal element ‘Hazardous Materials Inventory’ is set to ‘applicable’ or ‘always applicable’
UST Reporting Requirement for submittal element ‘Underground Storage Tanks’ is set to ‘applicable’ or ‘always applicable’
Haz Waste Generator Business Activities question (field 9) set to ‘YES” on the most recent ‘Accepted’ submittal in the selected date range. This is because there is no reporting requirement for this program element.
Haz Waste RCRA LQG Business Activities question (field 14a) set to ‘YES” on the most recent ‘Accepted’ submittal in the selected date range. This is because there is no reporting requirement for this program element.
Haz Waste Recycler Reporting Requirement for submittal element ‘Recyclable Materials Report’ is set to ‘applicable’ or ‘always applicable’
PBR, CA, CE Reporting Requirement for submittal element ‘Tiered Permitting’ is set to ‘applicable’ or ‘always applicable’
APSA Reporting Requirement for submittal element ‘Aboveground Petroleum Storage Tank Act’ is set to ‘applicable’ or ‘always applicable’
CalARP Reporting Requirement for submittal element ‘California Accidental Release Program’ is set to ‘applicable’ or ‘always applicable’
Household Haz Waste Business Activities question (field 14b) set to ‘YES” on the most recent ‘Accepted’ submittal in the selected date range. This is because there is no reporting requirement for this program element.
  1. For searches that rely on a submittal element use the Facility Search feature.
    1. Select the appropriate submittal element as indicated above
    2. Set the Reporting Requirement to ‘Applicable + Always Applicable’
    3. Leave the Last Submittal Date Range blank.

      Screenshot of the Facility Search feature that rely on a submittal element, setting the Reporting Requirement to ‘Applicable + Always Applicable’ and leaving the Last Submittal Date Range blank
    4. The results screen displays the number of regulated facilities for the selected UPA.

    5. Screenshot of the results screen displaying the number of regulated facilities for the selected UPA
    6. Note that the UPA may change the facility reporting requirement at any time to include or exclude it from a program element.
    7. Using the Facility Search feature, find the facility
    8. Select the ‘Reporting Requirements’ link
    9. (It’s always a good idea to review the instructions…)
    10. Select the ‘Change’ button
    11. Set the desired submittal element to the desired setting and select the ‘Save Changes’ button. Note that this may also be a good time to set the ‘Next Due Date’.

      Screenshot of selecting the ‘Reporting Requirements’ link after finding a facility
      Screenshot of instructions and selecting the ‘Change’ button

      Screenshot of setting the desired submittal element to the desired setting and select the ‘Save Changes’ button. Note that this may also be a good time to set the ‘Next Due Date’
  2. For a search that relies on a ‘yes’ response to a Business Activities question (Hazardous Waste Generator, Hazardous Waste LQG, and Household Hazardous Waste) use the Facility Search feature to find ALL regulated facilities in the UPA jurisdiction.
    1. Set the Submittal Element to ‘Facility Information’
    2. Set the Reporting Requirement to ‘Applicable and Always Applicable’
    3. Leave the Last Submittal Date Range blank
      Screenshot of using the Facility Search feature to find ALL regulated facilities in the UPA jurisdiction. Setting the Submittal Element to ‘Facility Information’ and setting the Reporting Requirement to 'Applicable and Always Applicable’
    4. The results page provides a list of all facilities within the selected jurisdiction that are required to submit at least the facility information submittal element.
      Screenshot of selection ‘Export to Excel (Details)’
  3. Select the ‘Export to Excel (Details)
  4. Sort the table by the desired Program Element
    1. To sort, either remove the top two rows of the spreadsheet and select all of the table or highlight all of the table except rows one and two
    2. Select the appropriate sort parameter
    3. Set the order from Z to A
    4. Count the number of ‘Y’ responses, minus the number of header rows. This is your count of regulated facilities for the selected Unified Program Element
      Screenshot of setting the appropriate parameter

      Screenshot of setting the order from Z to A

      Screenshot of counting the number of “Y” responses, minus the number of header rows
    5. Note: If the resulting count is not correct, the facility will need to make a new submittal with the correct responses to the business activities questions.

Assigning Existing USTs to a New Facility

Question: Should a new business that takes over an existing UST facility change the tank ID numbers?

Answer: No, the tank IDs would not change when an existing CERS ID facility is transferred to another business because the CERS ID does not change.

However, if there is a compelling need to change the Tank ID numbers, have the business (or offer to assist them) follow the process below to ‘close’ the existing tank IDs and create ‘new’ tanks. In both cases each business would make a UST submittal and each would provide a comment as described below that the tanks are not actually closed or new. (In CERS 3 there will be a unique, permanent, CERS-generated Tank ID. This will enable accurate tracking of the tanks while allowing businesses the flexibility to change the name or number they assign to their tanks.)


Related Scenario: Subleasing. A business, Bob’s Gas Station, has a gas station with 6 USTs, five petroleum and one used oil tank. All tanks have previously been reported in CERS and the submission was accepted. Now, Bob’s Gas Station decides to lease out the service bay and the used oil tank to a new business (so this tank has a new tank operator). How should this be addressed in submissions to CERS?

In this scenario the new facility must create a new CERS ID as it is a new regulated facility. A new Tank Id number can be assigned to the waste oil tank because the tank is associated with the new CERS ID.

Note: The new facility must have a different address than the existing business. The new facility could be suite A or suite 1; anything to differentiate from the address of the existing facility so that they both don’t have the exact same address.

To manage tanks reporting in this scenario:

  1. The existing facility, now with 5 active tanks makes a new submittal ‘closing’ their used oil tank. Use the ‘UST Removal’ valid value rather than ‘permanently closed’. Include a comment in the ‘Additional Description’ field that the tank is not really closed; it is transferred to a new facility.
    Screenshot of using the ‘UST Removal’ valid value to report the UST has transferred to a new facility and to include a comment in the ‘Additional Description’ field that the tank is not really closed
  2. The new facility with one existing used oil tank (but new to the new facility) makes a submittal and creates a new tank record with a new tank ID. They include a comment that this is not really a new tank but it is tank ID xx from the existing facility.
    Screenshot of submittal creating a new tank record with a new tank ID, and a  comment that this is not really a new tank but it is tank ID xx from the existing facility
  3. Both of these will be included in the CERS Report 6 for this reporting period. The UPA will need to clarify in reporting or in the Paperless certification the nature of these two discrepancies.
  4. Later, the new facility in the service bay quits and the service bay and used oil tank revert to the original existing business, Bob’s Gas Station. The closing facility will need to make a submittal to ‘close’ their used oil tank and add a comment that it’s not really closed; it’s been transferred back to Bob’s Gas Station. In turn, Bob’s Gas Station can ‘reactivate’ the used oil tank with the original Tank ID number by making a new submittal based on a previous submittal and removing the tank closure date.
    1. If the closed facility does not make that submittal the UPA could do it on behalf of the business either through a proxy submittal (if they have that capability) or by adding themself to Business Organization as a user, making the submission on behalf of the closed facility, and then removing themself from the closed Business Organization.

Note the following related screenshots:

Screenshot of editing a tank ID

Screenshot of Field Help describing the Tank ID # feature

Screenshot of Field Help giving addition description for tank or location description/information

Screenshot of a tank description example

Letter dated November 29, 2016

To: Unified Program Agencies (UPAs)

From: Laura S Fischer, Chief, UST Leak Prevention Unit and Office of Tank Tester Licensing

Question: When to Review Underground Storage Tank (UST) Records

Answer: See Letter regarding When to Review UST Records

Discarding Previously Closed Tanks From Future UST Submittals

Question: 1.Should a Closed or Removed Tank be included on Future Submittals?

Answer: No. Use the process below to discard closed/removed tanks from future submittals

When a tank is permanently closed in place or removed a CERS UST submittal is necessary to report the closure/removal. This submittal must include the correct Type of Action, either permanent closure in place or removal, and must include the Date of Closure/Removal. Once this submittal has been accepted by the CUPA it is no longer necessary to continue to include the closed tank in future UST submittals.

Process:

Important notes:

  • Do not discard a tank record for a closed or removed tank before the CUPA has accepted a tank closure submittal.
  • NEVER discard a tank record for an active or temporarily closed tank.

On the next UST submittal after the submittal reporting the closure has been accepted by the CUPA, use the discard feature to remove the closed tank(s) from all future UST submittals. CERS will retain the closure data permanently even though the subsequent UST submittals will no longer reference the closed tank(s).

In this screenshot you can see this facility has been reporting two tanks. Selecting the ‘Discard’ button for Tank ID # 1 will remove this tank from future submittals.

Screenshot of selecting the ‘Discard’ button for removing tanks from future submittals

After selecting the ‘Discard’ button CERS provides a warning sign that requires your confirmation that you do indeed wish to discard this tank and its’ related data from future UST submittals. Selecting the ‘Discard’ button on this screen confirms and completes the process.

Screenshot of a CERS warning sign that requires your confirmation that you do indeed wish to discard this tank and its’ related data from future UST submittals. Selecting the ‘Discard’ button on this screen confirms and completes the process

After discarding CERS returns to the Underground Tanks screen where you can see that tank ID # 1 is no longer included in the submittal process. Continue the process to complete the UST submittal for the remaining active or temporarily closed tanks.

Screenshot of the Underground Tanks screen where you cans see that tank ID #1 is no longer included in the submittal process

UST FAQ: Are hard copies of documents required to be kept onsite?

Question: Do I have to retain hard copies of UST related documents onsite at my facility? - What about the UST Permit issued by the CUPA?

Answer: It depends. CalEPA UP Guidance Letter 14-01, revised July 7, 2014, and posted at http://www.calepa.ca.gov/CUPA/Bulletins/ states that if required information (including documents) can be ‘readily accessed onsite by facility staff and UPA inspectors through electronic means’ then keeping hard copies of this information and/or documents at the facility is not required. If information or document(s) cannot readily be accessed electronically then the facility is required to maintain hard copies onsite.

There is an exception in cases where there is a local law or ordinance that requires a hard copy onsite even though the information was reported electronically. Any such local requirement must be posted with the applicable local code citation(s) at https://cersbusiness.calepa.ca.gov/Reports/RegulatorLocalRequirements.

Regarding the UST permit, it is a hard copy document issued by a CUPA. There is no requirement for a business to report it electronically. Therefore, it is not addressed by the Guidance Letter and must be retained as a hard copy at the facility, as it always has been.

CalEPA’s intent for the Guidance was to avoid unnecessary duplication. The primary question is, ‘Is the information/document(s) readily available onsite?’ The answer can be yes, electronically available, or yes, hard copies are available. There is no requirement for both.

UST FAQ: Which forms require uploading to CERS?

Question: Which forms are required to be submitted or uploaded in CERS? -And which of these must be signed before they are uploaded? Updated 10/12/16

Answer: This FAQ has been updated to reflect CalEPA Unified Program Guidance Letter 14-08, Reporting Underground Storage Tank Information, published October 27, 2014 and the regulatory amendments adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) on August 2, 2016. The Guidance Letter allows regulated businesses to choose their preferred method of reporting specified documents; to either report these documents electronically as an uploaded pdf file to CERS or a local portal, or to continue to use the historical reporting manner prior to electronic reporting. Regulations adopted by the State Water Board allow submittals to be made by hand delivery, mail, facsimile or other electronic method unless otherwise directed by the agency that will receive the submittal as long as CERS Data Dictionary does not define the data elements for the submittal and there is no specific-named document upload option for that submittal. For example, some UST testing service providers routinely sent copies of their test certifications to the business and to the CUPA or Participating Agency (PA) on behalf of the business. Or the business may have mailed a hard copy to the CUPA or PA. Such practices, if previously acceptable to the CUPA or PA, may, at the discretion of the regulated business and with the approval of the CUPA or PA, resume until CERS 3.0 is released, currently projected in 2020.

This FAQ describes the reporting options for all UST related data and documents. In CERS, there are data entry screens where information is entered into fields, or boxes or radio buttons are checked. There are also six specifically named documents that are uploaded as pdf files. The Guidance Document does not affect these data entry screens or the specifically named documents.

However, there are eighteen ‘other required documents’ that may be reported as indicated in the Guidance Letter. Note that some of these documents may not be applicable to every UST facility. Signature requirements are provided as well. Refer to the Other Required Documents section below for more detailed information.

Below is a screen shot of the named uploadable documents and the Misc State-Required doc upload tool.

Screenshot of the named uploadable documents and the Misc State-Required doc upload tool

Each document upload screen provides several standardized CERS upload options. Note that all options may not be appropriate for all documents:

Screenshot of Document Upload screen that provides several standardized CERS upload options

The following identifies each UST Program related document and the upload option(s) authorized by code or regulation (HSC 6.7 or CCR Title 23) the regulated business can select for that specific document. Submittals may be rejected by the regulator if an incorrect upload option is used. For further information contact your local CUPA or PA. (http://cers.calepa.ca.gov/Contacts/)

Submitted using CERS data entry screens

  • UST Facility Operating Permit Application (formerly UPCF A) - Required with every submittal
  • UST Tank Information (formerly UPCF B)/Monitoring Plan (formerly UPCF D) - Required with every submittal
  • Certification of Installation/Modification (formerly UPCF C) – Required for all UST installations, replacements or modifications

Uploading Documents

Regulated businesses must upload documents in pdf (portable document format) format unless another option is chosen as shown below.

  • Specifically named documents
    • UST Response Plan (formerly UPCF E) - Upload Document or Provided Elsewhere in CERS. Document signature not required. This document does not need to be reported separately if the required information is provided in the Hazardous Materials Business Plan Emergency Response and Training Plan.
      Screenshot of specifically named document option selected ‘Provided Elsewhere in CERS’ and ‘Emergency Response and Training Plan’ that does not require a signature and does not need to be reported separately
    • Certification of Financial Responsibility – Upload Document. Document signature required.
    • Owner Statement of Designated UST Operator Compliance – Upload Document. Document signature required.
    • UST Monitoring Site Plan (Facility Plot Plan) - Upload Document or Provided Elsewhere in CERS. This document does not need to be reported separately if the required information is provided in the Hazardous Materials Inventory Site Map.
      Screenshot of specifically named document option selected ‘Provided Elsewhere in CERS’ and ‘Hazardous Materials Inventory’ that does not need to be reported separately.
    • Letter from Chief Financial Officer – Upload Document. Document signature required.
    • UST Owner/Operator: Written Agreement – Upload Document, Provided to Regulator, Stored at Facility, Exempt (if the operator is both the tank owner and the permit holder).
      Document signature required.
  • Other required documents

    When documents listed in the following table are required, except for the Unauthorized Release Report, regulated businesses may choose to report using the ‘Miscellaneous State- Required Documents’ link shown in image 1 or they may choose to report as allowed in the Guidance Letter and the UST regulations. If the historic reporting method is used there is no need to additionally report these documents to CERS.

    A signature is required for all of these documents before they can be reported.

    Document Name (Signature required for all documents) Upload Document
    as pdf
    Historical reporting
    method
    Monitoring System Annual Certification X X
    Spill Bucket Testing Report X X
    Secondary Containment Testing Report X X
    Tank Integrity Test Report (Possible Unauthorized Release) X X
    Tank Integrity Test Report (New Construction) X X
    Tank Integrity Test Report (After Lining) X X
    Tank Integrity Test Report (With Statistical Inventory Reconciliation) X X
    Tank Integrity Test Report (With Manual Inventory
    Reconciliation)
    X X
    Line Integrity Test Report (Suction Pipe) X X
    Line Integrity Test Report (Gravity Pipe) X X
    Statistical Inventory Reconciliation Annual Results Statement X X
    Enhanced Leak Detection Test Report (New Construction) X X
    Enhanced Leak Detection Test Report (Single-Walled Tanks within 1,000 Feet of Public Drinking Water Well(s)) X X
    Enhanced Leak Detection Test Report (Double-Walled Tanks within 1,000 Feet of Public Drinking Water Well(s)) X X
    Temporary Closure Tank Liquid Sampling Results X X
    Tank Lining Structural Integrity Certification X X
    Tank Lining Interior Lining Inspection Certification X X
    Tank Bladder Minimized Puncture Threat Certification X X
    Unauthorized Release Report (Required to be reported to CERS) X X

Reporting BOE Numbers

Question: How should Underground Storage Tank (UST) BOE numbers be reported? – Updated 4/1/2016

Answer: The California Board of Equalization (BOE) requires that all UST owners have a BOE number for each facility. View their January 2014 Publication #88, Underground Storage Tank Fee (http://www.boe.ca.gov/pdf/pub88.pdf) for more information and contact information. A BOE number is required in order to make a UST submittal in CERS.

If you are a UST owner you should already have a BOE number for your facility. If you are a UST operator you can obtain the BOE number from the UST owner.

Certain facilities may use a generic BOE number to electronically report these types of UST facilities to CERS or a local CUPA reporting web portal:

  • UST facilities where all USTs contain only non petroleum products: 44051631
    • Note: The previous number 44000000 is no longer valid.
  • State owned UST facilities: 44032062
  • Federally owned UST facilities: 44032063

All other UST facility owners must contact the California Board of Equalization to register a facility that has USTs or to obtain further information about the requirement for a BOE number.

Please note that electronic reporting UST information to CERS cannot be completed without a valid eight digit BOE number beginning with 44.

UST owners must verify their BOE number is correct and update it, if needed, for each UST submittal to CERS.

UST FAQ: Reporting Requirements for repairs or new USTs

When should you make a submittal in CERS to report repairs or a new UST?

Answer:

New Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)

Until hazardous materials are added to a UST, there is no legal requirement for a business to report the tank in the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS). Therefore, the installation is not a reportable action in CERS. Unified Program Agencies (UPAs) may not require a CERS UST submittal for the new tank as a condition for a permit to install a new UST.

UPAs will require installation permits be obtained prior to beginning any installation. The UPA may additionally require the business to electronically report to CERS updated Facility Information, Hazardous Materials Inventory Statement and UST submittal elements as a condition to authorize the introduction of hazardous materials into the new UST.

Contact your local UPA for more information. To locate your UPA use the CalEPA Unified Program Directory.

Repairs and Modifications to Existing Underground Storage Tanks

Permits may be required from the UPA for a repair or modification to an existing UST. Any changes to your UST system must be reported to CERS by making a new UST submittal once the changes have been made. Your UPA may require that this information be reported prior to placing the tank system back into service. If not, the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that at a minimum, updated information be reported to CERS within 30 days. Contact your UPA for specifics.

Businesses should not make a submittal nor should UPAs require submittal to CERS prior to performing work as the information in CERS would be false until the work is actually completed.

UST FAQ: How to report tank contents

How should I report tank contents?

Answer: This FAQ presumes that your tank contains regulated materials. Contact your local agency for more information. Use the directory of local agencies if you are unsure of who to contact.

The section for reporting tank contents is in the ‘UST Tank Information/Monitoring Plan’ section. Open this section and scroll down to the ‘Tank Contents’ subsection.

Screenshot of where to find the section for reporting tank contents which is located in the ‘UST Tank Information/Monitoring Plan’ section

Screenshot of ‘Tank Contents’ sub section

A number of questions have been raised about ethanol containing gasoline, biodiesel, and used/waste transmission fluid. The following table indicates the correct tank contents to select:

Reporting Recommendations for Specified Tank Contents

Substance Stored in Tank Tank Contents selection
Gasoline with up to 12% ethanol Regular, Premium, or Midgrade Unleaded
Gasoline with more than 12% ethanol (incl. E85) Petroleum Blend Fuel
100% Ethanol Ethanol
Biodiesel B5 Diesel
Biodiesel Blends greater than B5 Petroleum Blend Fuel
Biodiesel B100 with no petroleum additive Other Petroleum
Renewable Diesel R1-R100 Diesel
Used or waste transmission fluid (ATF) Used Oil
All other petroleum based substances Other Petroleum
All other regulated substances Other Non-Petroleum

Reporting Abandoned USTs

Should abandoned underground storage tanks (USTs) be reported in CERS?

Answer: That depends. Long-abandoned USTs that are discovered, that were never previously regulated, and are not intended to be placed back into service are not required to be reported to CERS as long as a proposal to close or remove the UST(s) is submitted to the CUPA or PA having jurisdiction within 30 days of discovery. Similarly, accounts in CERS shall not be created for sites where a long- abandoned, never regulated UST(s) is found, and the sites have no other Unified Program regulated activities, solely for the purpose of reporting such long-abandoned UST(s).

This does not apply to any UST installed on or after January 1, 1984, any operational UST, any abandoned UST discovered containing product, or any temporarily closed USTs or abandoned USTs that were previously regulated by the CUPA or PA. For example, if a regulated UST facility goes out of business and later a new business moves in and ‘discovers’ a UST, the new business is required to report the UST to CERS even if they intend to permanently close or remove the UST. All operational, temporarily closed, and abandoned USTs that were previously regulated shall be reported to CERS or to a local reporting portal, regardless if there are other Unified Program regulated activities at the site.

Based on the following code citations, notification and proposal to close the tank(s) shall be provided to the CUPA or PA within 30 days of the discovery of abandoned UST(s). Failure to notify the CUPA or PA of the discovery of an abandoned UST(s) and failure to provide a proposal to close or remove the UST(s) may result in enforcement action including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per day.

For more information contact your local CUPA or PA. For help contacting the appropriate agency use the CalEPA Unified Program directory.

Code references:

California Health and Safety Code (HSC) Chapter 6.7 Section 25298: No person shall abandon a UST. HSC Section 25299(a) provides for a civil penalty of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) or more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each underground storage tank for each day of violation for failure to properly close a UST.

California Code of Regulations, Title 23, Section 2670(f): At least 30 days prior to closure a proposal to close shall be submitted to the CUPA or PA.

Making a Submittal from a Previous Submittal

How do I make a new submittal if there have been no changes from my last submittal?

Answer: Submittals after the first one can be very quick and easy. Follow the screenshots below. If you only do this once a year the process may take you ten to fifteen minutes or longer depending on how much time you spend reviewing and / or updating your information. If you are sure there are no changes the process to make a completely new submittal may take as little as three to five minutes. (Of course, if you have forgotten your login name and/or password, the process could take longer… )

Note: This FAQ presumes two things: one, there has been a previous submittal to CERS for this facility, and two, there have been no changes or very minor changes from your previous submittal for this facility.

Step 1: Login and find your facility. Select one of the ‘Start/Edit Submittal’ buttons. In this example, the business ‘ACEH’ has more than one facility so for this FAQ we select the ‘No One to Help Me’ facility.

Screenshot of an example logging in and finding your facility. Select one of the ‘Start/Edit Submittals’ buttons

Step 2: This screen shows the last submittal and the submittal elements that were part of it. It also shows when the last submittal was made for each submittal element. In this example only the Hazardous Materials Business Plan submittal elements were previously submitted.

Select the Facility Information ‘Start’ button:

Screenshot of the screen showing the last submittal and the submittal elements that were a part of it,  selecting the ‘Start’ button in the Facility Information Tab

Step 3: You have a choice to start from a previous submittal. If you choose this option all data and documents previously submitted are copied and ready for the new submittal. Nothing is lost; previous submittals always remain in CERS.

Select ‘Start’:

Screenshot of selecting either a previous submittal or a new submittal

Step 4: You should always review the previous information to ensure it is still correct by selecting the links within each submittal element. At a minimum, for the Facility Information submittal element only, select the Business Owner/Operator Identification link or the ‘Edit’ button. You have to enter new dates for each reporting year. Note: the dates may be calendar, January 1, 201x to December 31, 201x or they may be the twelve month period from your regular annual submission date set by the CUPA. If you are unsure of which dates to use please check with your CUPA.

Screenshot of selecting Business Owner/Operator Identification link or the ‘Edit’ button for the Facility Information submittal element only

Step 4a: Select the ‘Edit’ button, enter the new dates, and select the ‘Save’ button. If there are any other changes to this screen, make them before hitting the ‘Save’ button.

Screenshot of selecting the Edit button

Screenshot of entering new dates and saving it

Step 5: Repeat Steps 2, 3 and 4 for each of the other submittal elements. You should always review the data but you do not need to enter new dates for these submittal elements so if there are no changes, skip step 4a. Note that the green ‘submitted’ dates change to yellow ‘draft’ dates. This helps you keep track of where you are in the process.

Screenshot of the yellow ‘draft’ dates to help you keep track of your progress

Step 6: When you have completed these steps for all of the submittal elements, select the ‘Submit’ button for the Facility Information.

Screenshot of the yellow ‘draft’ dates to help you keep track of your progress

Step 7: This screen includes a brief checklist to help ensure your submittal is complete, a certification statement that you are making as part of your submittal, optional comment fields for each submittal element and shows the submittal elements to be included in the submittal by the checkboxes on the right side of the screen.

Select the ‘Submit Selected Elements’ button:

Screenshot of a brief checklist to help ensure your submittal is complete, a certification
statement that you are making as part of your submittal, optional comment fields for each submittal
element and shows the submittal elements to be included in the submittal by the checkboxes on the
right side of the screen. Select the ‘Submit Selected Elements’ button

That’s it. You are done! A ‘Submittal Finished’ screen opens confirming your submittal has been made to the CUPA. You can print this submittal if you choose by selecting the ‘Print Submittal’ button.

Screenshot of a ‘Submittal Finished’ screen confirming your submittal has been made to the CUPA

Upon completing the submittal you can log out of CERS. Keep your login and password somewhere you can find it for future use. When the CUPA or Participating Agency (usually a City that has contracted with the CUPA to implement one or more of the Unified Program elements) reviews your submittal and changes the status to ‘Under Review’, ‘Accepted’, or ‘Not Accepted’ you will receive an automated email advising you of this and explaining if anything further is needed. Please contact your CUPA if you have further questions. You can use the Unified Program Directory to obtain your CUPA’s contact information.

UST FAQ: General Reporting Requirements for UST Sites

What are the general reporting requirements for Underground Storage Tank (UST) Sites? Does every field have to be completed? (Revised 9/11/2015)

Answer: California Health and Safety Code chapter 6.11 requires that all Unified Program related information be reported electronically. Regulated facilities may report to the California Electronic Reporting System, CERS, or to a local reporting portal, if one is provided by the CUPA. There is a recent exception, CalEPA Unified Program Guidance Letter 14-08. Refer to the UST FAQ Updated: Which UST Forms Must Be Uploaded for more information.

CERS is divided into eleven submittal elements. Facilities with USTs are required to annually report the following submittal elements. Due dates are set by the CUPA. If the CUPA does not set a due date the default date is March 1.

  • Facility Information. This includes the Business Activities questionnaire and Business Owner/Operator subsections. (This submittal element must always be submitted with all other submittal elements)
  • Hazardous Materials Inventory. This includes both the hazardous materials inventory and a site map showing where hazardous materials are stored.
  • Emergency Response Plan and Employee Training Plan.

CERS is divided into eleven submittal elements. Facilities with USTs are required to annually report the following submittal elements. Due dates are set by the CUPA. If the CUPA does not set a due date the default date is March 1.

  • Facility Information. This includes the Business Activities questionnaire and Business Owner/Operator subsections. (This submittal element must always be submitted with all other submittal elements)
  • Hazardous Materials Inventory. This includes both the hazardous materials inventory and a site map showing where hazardous materials are stored.
  • Emergency Response Plan and Employee Training Plan.

    Screenshot of UST submittal elements that are required to be submitted when the UST permit is due for renewal or when any information has changed
  • Additional submittal elements may be required if the facility generates hazardous waste.

    Annual electronic reporting will be easier after the first complete submission because you can choose to begin a new electronic reporting cycle based on a previous submittal. In this process, CERS replicates your previous submittal, allows you to review, edit as needed and then submit. Since many regulated businesses have few if any changes from year to year, the annual submission process for many will be quick. Regulated businesses may also choose to start a new submittal process from scratch.

    Even though CERS allows a submission to be made when some fields are left blank, all information on the CERS data entry screens is required when applicable. Data entry fields in CERS are defined in the California Code of Regulations Title 27 Data Dictionary and are listed in the CERS Data Registry. Submittals with incomplete information may be rejected by the CUPA or Participating Agency (PA) if the latter is the local agency implementing the UST program in their jurisdiction.

    The State Water Resources Control Board has been clear that all appropriate UST related fields must be properly completed. A CUPA or PA should reject a submittal if it is incomplete. In some cases, a CUPA or PA may choose to accept a submittal with minor errors with a condition that it be corrected and resubmitted within a specific timeframe and not later than the next annual compliance inspection, depending on the quality of the submittal and other factors. A UPA may change the submittal status at any time from ‘accepted’ to ‘not accepted’. CERS provides automated email notices to the regulated business when a submittal status is changed.

    However, not all data entry fields are applicable for all situations. Unless otherwise indicated in CERS, there is no requirement for a business to fill in fields that are not applicable. Information bubbles as shown in the screen shots below are intended to help businesses provide necessary information. For example, fields 440a and 440b specifically apply only when ‘other petroleum’ or ‘other non‐petroleum’ is selected in field 440. Field 406 is only applicable to public agencies. Similarly, field 438 is intended to be used only when the CUPA or PA requests that you provide additional tank or location information is a particular UST, i.e., to identify something unusual. It was not intended as a required field for all USTs.

  • Field 445 is an example where direction is provided to the business to enter something even though this field is not applicable for single walled USTs.

    Screenshot of fields 440, 440a, and 440b
    Screenshot of the help icon to help specify 'other petroleum’ contents
    Screenshot of the help icon to help specify ‘non-petroleum’ contents
  • Field 406:
    Screenshot of field 406

    Screenshot of the help icon to help define what field 406 is asking for
  • Field 438
    Screenshot of field 438

    Screenshot of the help icon defining what field 438 is asking for
  • Field 445:
    Screenshot of field 445

    Screenshot of the help icon defining what field 445 is asking for

Please note that the examples in this FAQ may not be a complete list of fields that are not applicable for your facility.

Other UST related FAQs are posted at CERS Help / Training.

Notice to Permanently Close Single Wall USTs

UST Announcement: All Single Wall Underground Storage Tank (UST) and Piping Systems Must be Permanently Closed by Dec 31, 2025 (Updated 10/6/2016)

This announcement is time sensitive because there may be grant and or loan funds available to assist in the closure of these single wall tanks and piping systems. Once the existing funding is allocated there may not be additional funding in subsequent years. For more information review the notification documents posted here:

https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/ust/single_walled/docs/sw_ust_owner_operator_ltr.pdf

https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/ust/docs/sb445_notification_lf%209_26.pdf

What are the most common CERS reporting error

What are the most common CERS reporting errors that CUPAs and PAs see in Business submittals to CERS?

Answer: The following are common CERS reporting errors. Avoiding these types of errors when submitting to CERS or a local reporting portal will help increase the likelihood that your submittal will be accepted by your local agency, saving you and the local agency time and effort. This FAQ may be updated as we receive additional feedback. It is not a list of all deficiencies. In all cases regarding these errors, please contact your CUPA or PA for more information.

  1. Facility Submittal Element:
    1. Partial submittals of only the facility information
      All submittal elements such as the Hazardous Materials Inventory, Emergency Response and Training Plan, Tiered Permitting, Underground Tanks, etc., require that the Facility Information submittal element be submitted at the same time. Only when updating previously submitted facility information and there are no changes to any other submittal element would the Facility Information submittal element be submitted by itself.
      Screenshot of All submittal elements that require that the Facility Information submittal element be submitted at the same time
  2. Hazardous Materials Inventory Submittal Element:
    1. Incorrect Chemical and/or Common Name
      Enter the chemical name and common name for all pure materials with a CAS number. Leave the chemical name field blank if you are reporting a mixture or hazardous waste.
      Screenshot of where to enter the chemical name and common name for all pure materials with a CAS number under the Chemical Identification and Physical Properties submittal element
    2. Incorrect selection for the “hazardous materials type” data field.
      Check ‘Pure’ only if you provide a CAS Number. Check ‘Mixture’ if the hazardous material contains more than one component and is not a waste. Check ‘Waste’ for hazardous wastes.
      Screenshot of where to check the box for ‘Pure’, ‘Mixture’, or ‘Waste’ for the Chemical Identification and Physical Properties submittal element
    3. No information reported for “annual waste amount” field for hazardous wastes
      If you answer ‘yes’ to the business activities question about whether your facility generates hazardous waste you must provide an estimate of the amount of hazardous waste generated in a calendar year.
  3. Incorrect information reported for “maximum daily amount” field.
    Report the maximum amount of each hazardous material, including each hazardous waste, that could likely be stored at the storage location on any given day. This field is sometimes mistakenly used to report how much product or material is used or generated during one day, or how much hazardous waste is generated or processed.
  4. Facility marks a “no” for the first business activities form question regarding hazardous materials storage and then they are unable to submit inventory including hazardous wastes.
    Read the question carefully. Hazardous wastes are considered to be hazardous materials, as are many other materials such as paints and gasoline.
  5. Duplicate documents in same submittal (old and revised version of same form submitted).
    Limit document uploads to the most current document. CER automatically retains copies of previously submitted documents. Always select ‘discard’ documents if you are uploading a more recent version.
  6. Facility creates a new duplicate facility in CERS.
    The CERS ID is tied to the physical location of the facility. Before creating a new facility in CERS search for similar addresses to see if it already exists. For example, search for partial street names or address numbers to see if the site is already in the system. You can also check with your CUPA or PA to ask them if they can check for you.
  7. Business site address incorrect and/or business owner information is incorrect
    The CERS ID is tied to the physical location of the facility. So, if you move to a new facility in a different location you would need to obtain the CERS ID for that new location. If your business name or business owner changes the CERS ID does not change. Also, if the street address is changed (the City renames the street, or your facility is on a corner and the address is changed to the intersecting street) but the actual location remains the same, the CERS ID would not be changed.
  8. Documents put in the wrong location. "Locally collected information" seems to be a used incorrectly.
    Locally collected information is applicable only in a limited number of CUPA and PA jurisdictions. Some CUPAs or PAs require that you provide additional information pursuant to a local ordinance. You can view these local requirements on the Unified Program Local Requirements table (https://cersbusiness.calepa.ca.gov/Reports/RegulatorLocalRequirements). In some instances the CUPA or PA may require that the additional information be uploaded as a ‘locally collected information’ document.
  9. For UST submittals, incomplete information. Documents incorrectly marked as “stored onsite.”
    Review all UST related FAQs at http://cers.calepa.ca.gov/help-training.
  10. Failing to upload/submit the Emergency Response/Contingency Plan or element or no local CUPA phone number for reporting releases
    All facilities subject to reporting hazardous materials (or hazardous wastes) must also submit the Emergency Response Plan and Training Plan submittal element. This submittal element is required every three years at minimum. The Emergency Response Plan must include the local CUPA phone number for reporting releases.
  11. Required fields not complete (i.e. largest container, mixtures without components, storage temp and pressure, Federal Hazard Category, etc.)
    Providing this information ensures that emergency responders have necessary information to response purposes.
  12. Site map inadequate.
    Review the Instructions/Help section on the Site Map upload screen. Note: All uploaded documents including site maps should be in a pdf (portable document format) format. This is especially true for site maps as they are intended to be used by emergency response agencies. Other document format types may not be compatible with every emergency response agency system. Large, multipage site maps may need to be uploaded as more than one document.

Reporting a TIUGA (former UST in CERS) as an AST subject to APSA

How to report a Tank in an Underground Area (TIUGA), formerly reported as an Underground Storage Tank (UST) in CERS, as an aboveground storage tank (AST) subject to the Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act (APSA).

This is a guide to help owners/operators to properly report a tank that was previously reported as a UST but has now been determined to be a TIUGA subject to APSA and is no longer regulated as a UST. For more information about APSA and TIUGAs, refer to Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) guidance here: http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/cupa/apsa.

As described in detail below, the submittal process to report this change includes updating the Business Activities questions, the Hazardous Materials Inventory (Inventory), the site map, and the UST section to remove this tank from the UST portion of your CERS submittals.

CERS 3, currently scheduled for release in March 2019, includes a simplified process for changing the status of a UST to an AST. Until then the following steps are necessary. For further assistance please contact your local Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) representative.

Preparation for Submittal

Confirm the specific Tank ID for the UST, then complete the optional TIUGA Notification Form. This is an optional form on the OSFM website: http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/cupa/pdf/TIUGA_Notification_form-18May2018.pdf. It is designed to be completed by the Tank Facility owner/operator for the purpose of establishing a tank meets the definition of a TIUGA as specified in California Health and Safety Code (HSC), section 25270.2(o), that it is being monitored in accordance with the APSA requirements found in HSC Chapter 6.67, and that it is no longer considered a UST. If you are unsure how to complete the form, contact your Designated Operator, Professional Engineer, or your CUPA for assistance. After completing the form, save it as a PDF file.

After the form has been completed and saved as a PDF, log into CERS to complete the submittal process as follows:

Step 1-Select either the ‘Start Facility Submittal’ or ‘Start/Edit Submittal’ buttons

Step 2- Prepare Draft Submittal page

Click the ‘Start’ button on Facility Information, Hazardous Materials Inventory, Emergency Response and Training Plans,

Screenshot of clicking the start button on facility Information, Hazardous Materials Inventory, Emergency Response and Training Plans, and Underground Storage Tanks

Screenshot of clicking the start button on Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act

Underground Storage Tanks and Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act.

For all 5 sections, confirm your submittal will be based upon most recent submittal, then click the ‘Start’ button:

SScreenshot of confirming the submittals based upon the most recent submittal, then clicking the start button

Step 3-Verify Facility Information

Select and open the ‘Business Activities’ form. Select the ‘Edit’ button on either screen:

Screenshot of opening the ‘Business Activities’ form and selecting the ‘Edit’ button

On the Business Activities screen:

  1. Do NOT change the UST question; the answer must be ‘YES’ for now:
    Screenshot of the UST question on the Business Activities form, with the answer selected ‘YES’
  2. Answer Yes to the Aboveground Petroleum Storage question:
    Screenshot of the Aboveground Petroleum question on the Business Activities Screen with the answer selected ‘YES’
  3. At the bottom of the ‘Business Activities’ form, enter this statement and the correct tank ID: ‘Effective the date of this submittal, Tank #xxxxx is no longer regulated as a UST. This tank meets the definition of a TIUGA subject to APSA.’
  4. Select the ‘Save’ button. If the Business Owner/Operator Information screen opens make any necessary changes and select ‘Save’ again. The Prepare Draft Submittal screen will be displayed.

Step 4-Update the HMIS and Emergency Response and Training Plan Submittal Elements

Select and open the Hazardous Materials Inventory. Remember that you are to start from the most recent submittal.

  1. Update the Inventory as needed to reflect all changes. For the tank, select the ‘edit’ button next to the hazardous material currently in the tank and select ‘Aboveground tank’ as the type of container. Deselect ‘Underground tank’. When finished it should look like this:
    Screenshot of only selecting ‘Aboveground tank’ under the Inventory Storage Information
  2. Select ‘Save’. The screen will close back to the list of inventory items. Select ‘Done’ to complete the change.
  3. If necessary, upload a revised Site Map
  4. Update the Emergency Response and Training Plans section similarly.

Step 5-Update the Underground Storage Tanks Submittal Element

Select and open the UST submittal.

  1. Select the UST Facility Operating Permit Application. Select the ‘Start’ button and select from the most recent submittal
    Screenshot of selecting the UST Facility Operating Permit Application and selecting the ‘Start’ button from the most recent submittal
  2. Select the UST Facility Operating Permit Application:
    Screenshot of selecting the UST Facility Operating Permit Application
  3. Check the ‘Confirmed/Updated Information button and select ‘Save’:
    Screenshot of checking the ‘Confirmed/Updated Information’ button and selecting ‘Save’
  4. Select the UST tank that is being changed to a TIUGA, then select ‘Start New Submittal’ and select start from the most recent submittal.
    Screenshot of selecting the UST tank that is being changed to a TUIGA, then selecting ‘Start New Submittal
  5. Select ‘Edit’
    Screenshot of selecting the ‘Edit’ button on the UST Tank Information/Monitoring Plan page
  6. Select ‘Permanent Closure Onsite, enter a comment similar to this in the ‘Additional Description field:
    ‘This tank has been determined to be a Tank in Underground Area (TIUGA). It is no longer regulated as a UST but will be regulated effective the date of this submittal under the APSA program element.’
  7. Select ‘Save’:
    Screenshot of selecting ‘Permanent Closure Onsite’, entering a comment in the description box and then selecting ‘Save’

    Note: The next screen will be the ‘UST Monitoring Plan’ page, no changes are required on this page; click ‘Save’.

Step 6-Prepare APSA submittal and notification of a TIUGA

  1. Select ‘Start’.
    Screenshot of selecting ‘Start’ in the Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act submittal page
  2. Select ‘Edit’ if you have submitted an APSA submittal in the past.
    Screenshot of selecting the ‘Edit’ button if you have submitted an APSA submittal in the past
  3. Select the ‘Start’ button. If prompted, always select the choice for ‘based on most recent submittal’. If your Hazardous Materials Inventory is current and includes the tank contents it is okay to select ‘Provided Elsewhere in CERS’ and choose ‘Hazardous Materials Inventory’ as shown below, or you can upload your APSA Tank Facility Statement in this section, then ‘Save’.
    Screenshot of selecting ‘Provided Elsewhere in CERS’ under document options and selecting ‘Hazardous Materials Inventory’
  4. Upload the TIUGA Notification Form. Select the hyperlink marked ‘Miscellaneous State-Required Documents’ and upload the completed TIUGA Notification Form, then ‘Save’.
    Screenshot of selecting the hyperlink marked ‘Miscellaneous State-Required Documents’ to upload the completed TIUGA Notification Form, then saving’

    Note: Even though the CERS field indicates this form is ‘state-required’, it is not—it is a recommended form so facilities can notify the regulator they have a TIUGA. The form can be found on the Office of State Fire Marshal website at http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/cupa/pdf/TIUGA_Notification_form-18May2018.pdf.

Step 7-Submit the updated submittal elements

Once you are back on the ‘Prepare Draft Submittal’ page verify that all 5 submittal elements have been checked and click ‘Submit Selected Elements’. That’s it, you are done! Note that you can also include comments to your CUPA. Refer to the screenshot on the following page.

Screenshot of the ‘Prepare Draft Submittal’ page, verifying that all 5 submittal elements have been checked and click ‘Submit Selected Elements’

Step 8 Subsequent Business submittal instructions

On your next regularly scheduled submittal if there are no other USTs at the facility change the answer to the UST question on the Business Activities screen to = No.

Note to CUPAs: After you accept the business submittal transferring the UST tank to APSA if there are no other UST tanks at the site change the UST Reporting requirement = Not Applicable.