Lessons on Regulatory Reporting in California
by Sedina L. Banks* and Brian E. Moskal**
It is midnight and you receive a frantic call from your client. There has just been a major solvent spill at their Southern California facility and she asks what she should do. The immediate focus, of course, should be on containing and cleaning up as much of the spill as possible to minimize any potential impacts to public health and the environment. However, an equally important consideration is to determine very quickly whether your client is obligated to report the release and, if so, to notify the appropriate regulatory agency (or agencies) as soon as possible.
Under California law, there are many regulatory reporting requirements that potentially apply to a new release of hazardous substances or materials, hazardous waste or sewage. Some statutes require reporting within hours of discovery. Failure to report an incident can expose your client to substantial administrative, civil and criminal penalties. Therefore, it is important to understand how these requirements may apply to your clients’ facilities and operations before an emergency occurs.