Code Section Group

Health and Safety Code - HSC

DIVISION 20. MISCELLANEOUS HEALTH AND SAFETY PROVISIONS [24000 - 26217]

  ( Division 20 enacted by Stats. 1939, Ch. 60. )

CHAPTER 6.8. Hazardous Substance Account [25300 - 25395.45]

  ( Chapter 6.8 repealed and added by Stats. 1999, Ch. 23, Sec. 2. )

ARTICLE 6. Recovery Actions [25360 - 25367]
  ( Article 6 added by Stats. 1999, Ch. 23, Sec. 2. )

25360.
  

(a) A cost incurred by the department or regional board in carrying out or overseeing a response or a corrective action under this chapter or Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100) shall be recoverable pursuant to state or federal law by the Attorney General, upon the request of the department or regional board, from the liable person or persons. The amount of any response or corrective action costs that may be recovered pursuant to this section shall include interest on any amount paid.

(b) A person who is liable for response or corrective action costs incurred at a site shall have the liability reduced by any reimbursements that were paid by that person for that site pursuant to Section 25343.

(c) The amount of response or corrective action costs incurred by the department or regional board shall be recoverable at the discretion of the department or regional board, either in a separate action or by way of intervention as of right in an action for contribution or indemnity. Nothing in this section deprives a party of any defense that the party may have.

(d) Moneys recovered by the Attorney General pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the state account.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 456, Sec. 2. (AB 273) Effective January 1, 2016.)

25360.1.
  

(a) Until June 30, 2021, except as provided in subdivision (b), a monetary obligation to the department pursuant to Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100) or this chapter shall be subject to interest from the date of the demand at an interest rate of 7 percent per annum. Commencing July 1, 2021, except as provided in subdivision (b), a monetary obligation to the department pursuant to Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100) or this chapter shall be subject to interest from the date of the demand at an interest rate of 10 percent per annum, except that, for obligations of local governments, the interest rate shall be 7 percent per annum.

(b) The department shall waive the interest described in subdivision (a) if the obligation is satisfied within 60 days from the date of invoice. If, within 45 days of receiving an invoice, the liable person or persons provide written notice to the department in accordance with its invoice dispute resolution procedures disputing in good faith the monetary obligation specified in the invoice, or a portion thereof, the department shall waive the interest until the dispute is resolved.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 456, Sec. 3. (AB 273) Effective January 1, 2016.)

25360.2.
  

(a) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:

(1) “Owner” means either (A) the owner of property who occupies a single-family residence or one-half of a duplex constructed on the property, or (B) the owner of common areas within a residential common interest development who owns those common areas for the benefit of the residential homeowners. This paragraph does not include the developer of the common interest development.

(2) “Property” means either (A) real property of five acres or less which is zoned for, and on which has been constructed, a single-family residence, or (B) common areas within a residential common interest development.

(b) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, an owner of property that is the site of a hazardous substance release is presumed to have no liability pursuant to this chapter for either of the following:

(A) A hazardous substance release that has occurred on the property.

(B) A release of a hazardous substance to groundwater underlying the property if the release occurred at a site other than the property.

(2) The presumption may be rebutted as provided in subdivision (d).

(c) An action for recovery of costs or expenditures incurred from the state account pursuant to this chapter in response to a hazardous substance release may not be brought against an owner of property unless the department first certifies that, in the opinion of the department, one of the following applies:

(1) The hazardous substance release that occurred on the property occurred after the owner acquired the property.

(2) The hazardous substance release that occurred on the property occurred before the owner acquired the property and at the time of acquisition the owner knew or had reason to know of the hazardous substance release.

(3) The owner of property where there has been a release of a hazardous substance to groundwater underlying the property took, or is taking, one or more of the following actions:

(A) Caused or contributed to a release of a hazardous substance to the groundwater.

(B) Fails to provide the department, or its authorized representative, with access to the property.

(C) Interferes with response action activities.

(d) In an action brought against an owner of property to recover costs or expenditures incurred from the state account pursuant to this chapter in response to a hazardous substance release, the presumption established in subdivision (b) may be rebutted if it is established by a preponderance of the evidence that the facts upon which the department made the certification pursuant to paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of subdivision (c) are true.

(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, this section governs liability pursuant to this chapter for an owner of property, as defined in subdivision (a).

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 77, Sec. 32. Effective July 18, 2006.)

25360.3.
  

(a) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meaning:

(1) “Easement” means a conservation easement, as defined in Section 815.1 of the Civil Code.

(2) “Environmental assessment” means an investigation of real property, conducted by an independent qualified environmental consultant, to discover the presence or likely presence of a release or a threat of a release of a hazardous substance at, on, to, or from the real property. An environmental assessment shall include, but is not limited to, an investigation of the historical use of the real property, any prior releases, records, consultant reports and regulatory agency correspondence, a visual survey of the real property, and, if warranted, sampling and analytical testing.

(3) “Owner” means either of the following:

(A) An independent special district, as defined in Section 56044 of the Government Code.

(B) An entity or organization that holds an easement.

(4) “Property” means either of the following:

(A) Real property acquired by a special district by means of a gift or donation for which an environmental assessment was completed prior to the transfer or conveyance of the real property to the special district.

(B) An easement for which an environmental assessment was completed prior to the transfer or conveyance of the easement to an entity or organization authorized to accept the easement pursuant to Section 815.3 of the Civil Code.

(b) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, if an environmental assessment of property discovers no evidence of the presence or likely presence of a release or a threat of a release of a hazardous substance, and a hazardous substance release is subsequently discovered on, to, or from that property, the owner of that property is entitled to a rebuttable presumption, affecting the burden of producing evidence, that the owner is not a liable person or responsible party for purposes of this chapter. An owner is entitled to this presumption whether the action is brought by the state or by a private party seeking contribution or indemnification.

(2) In an action brought against an owner of property to recover costs or expenditures incurred from the state account pursuant to this chapter in response to a hazardous substance release, the presumption may be rebutted if it is established by a preponderance of the evidence that the facts upon which the department made the certification pursuant to paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4) of subdivision (c) are true.

(c) An action for recovery of costs or expenditures incurred from the state account pursuant to this chapter in response to a hazardous substance release shall not be brought against an owner of property unless the department first certifies that, as found by the department, one of the following situations applies:

(1) The hazardous substance release occurred on or after the date that the owner acquired the property.

(2) The hazardous substance release occurred before the date that the owner acquired the property and, at the time of the acquisition, the owner knew, or had reason to know, of the hazardous substance release.

(3) The environmental assessment applicable to the property was not properly carried out, was fraudulently completed, or involves the negligent or intentional nondisclosure of information.

(4) The hazardous substance release was discovered on or after the date of acquisition and the owner failed to exercise due care with respect to the release, taking into consideration the characteristics of the hazardous substance in light of all relevant facts and circumstances.

(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, this section governs liability pursuant to this chapter for an owner of property, as defined in subdivision (a).

(e) This section is applicable only to property that is acquired by the owner on or after January 1, 1995.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 77, Sec. 33. Effective July 18, 2006.)

25360.4.
  

(a) (1) (A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B) and paragraph (2), an action under Section 25360 for the recovery of costs incurred by the department or a regional board in carrying out or overseeing a response or corrective action pursuant to this chapter or Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100), or as otherwise authorized by law, shall be commenced within three years after completion of all response or corrective actions has been certified by the department or a regional board.

(B) If operation and maintenance is required as part of the response or corrective action, the action for recovery of costs incurred by the department or a regional board shall be commenced within three years after completion of operation and maintenance has been certified by the department or a regional board.

(2) No action described in paragraph (1) may be brought that, as of December 31, 2015, had not been commenced by the department within three years after the certification of the completion of the removal or remedial action.

(b) An action under subdivision (c) of Section 25352 for costs incurred by the department for the purposes specified in subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 25352 shall be commenced within three years after certification by the department of the completion of the activities authorized under subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 25352.

(c) In an action described in subdivision (a) or (b) for recovery of response or corrective action costs, oversight costs, or damages, where the court has entered a judgment for past costs or damages, the court shall also enter an order reserving jurisdiction over the case and the court shall have continuing jurisdiction to determine any future liability and the amount of the future liability. The department or regional board may immediately enforce the judgment for past costs and damages. The department or the regional board may apply for a court judgment for further costs and damages that have been incurred during the response or corrective action, operation and maintenance, or during the performance of the activities authorized by Section 25352, but the application shall be made not later than three years after the certification of completion of the response or corrective action, operation and maintenance, or activities authorized pursuant to Section 25352.

(d) An action may be commenced under Section 25360 or subdivision (c) of Section 25352 at any time prior to expiration of the applicable limitations period provided for by this section.

(e) This section does not apply to a cost recovery action brought by a regional board under the Water Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 458, Sec. 1. (AB 275) Effective January 1, 2016.)

25360.6.
  

(a) The department shall, if it determines that it is practicable and in the public interest, propose a final administrative or judicial expedited settlement with potentially responsible parties if the settlement involves only a minor portion of the response costs at a facility and, if in the judgment of the department, either of the following conditions are met:

(1) The amount of hazardous substances and the toxic or other hazardous effects of the hazardous substances contributed by the potentially responsible party to the facility are minimal in comparison to the amount and effects of other hazardous substances at the facility.

(2) The potentially responsible party is the owner of the real property on or in which the facility is located, did not conduct or permit the generation, transportation, storage, treatment, or disposal of any hazardous substance at the facility, and did not contribute to the release or threat of release of a hazardous substance at the facility through any act or omission. This paragraph does not apply if the potentially responsible party, at the time of the purchase of the real property, knew or should have known that the property was used for the generation, transportation, storage, treatment, or disposal of any hazardous substance.

(b) A party who has resolved its liability to the state under this section shall not be liable for claims for contribution regarding matters addressed in the settlement. A settlement under this section does not discharge any of the other potentially responsible parties unless its terms so provide, but it reduces the potential liability of the others by the amount of the settlement.

(c) Any person who enters into a settlement under this section shall provide any information relevant to the administration of this chapter that is requested by the department. In order to obtain the contribution protection provided by subdivision (b), a potentially responsible party participating in a de minimis settlement shall certify that it has responded fully and accurately to all of the department’s requests for information, and that it has provided all of the relevant documents pertaining to the facility to the department.

(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the authority of the department or regional board to reach settlements with other potentially responsible parties under this chapter.

(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 183, Sec. 205. Effective January 1, 2005.)

25361.
  

(a) The state account shall be a party in any action for recovery of costs or expenditures under this chapter incurred from the state account.

(b) In the event a district attorney or a city attorney has brought an action for civil or criminal penalties pursuant to Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100) against any person for the violation of any provision of that chapter, or any rule, regulation, permit, covenant, standard, requirement, or order issued, adopted, or executed thereunder, and the department has expended moneys from the state account pursuant to Section 25354 for immediate corrective action in response to a release, or threatened release, of a hazardous substance which has resulted, in whole or in part, from the person’s acts or omissions, the state account may be made a party to that action for the purpose of recovering the costs against that person. If the state account is made a party to the action, the Attorney General shall represent the state account for the purpose of recovering the moneys expended from the account. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, and under terms that the Attorney General and the department deem appropriate, the Attorney General may delegate the authority to recover the costs to the district attorney or city attorney who has brought the action pursuant to Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100). The failure to seek the recovery of moneys expended from the state account as part of the action brought pursuant to Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100) does not foreclose the Attorney General from recovering the moneys in a separate action.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 77, Sec. 35. Effective July 18, 2006.)

25362.
  

Upon motion and sufficient showing by any party, the court shall join to the action any person who may be liable for costs or expenditures of the type recoverable under this chapter.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 1999, Ch. 23, Sec. 2. Effective May 26, 1999.)

25363.
  

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (e), a party found liable for costs recoverable under this chapter who establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that only a portion of those costs are attributable to that party’s actions shall be required to pay only for that portion.

(b) Except as provided in subdivision (e), if the trier of fact finds the evidence insufficient to establish each party’s portion of costs under subdivision (a), the court shall apportion those costs, to the extent practicable, according to equitable principles, among the defendants.

(c) The standard of liability for costs recoverable pursuant to this chapter is strict liability.

(d) A person who has incurred response or corrective action costs in accordance with this chapter, Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100), or the federal act may seek contribution or indemnity from any person who is liable pursuant to this chapter. An action to enforce a claim may be brought as a cross-complaint by any defendant in an action brought pursuant to Section 25360 or this section, or in a separate action after the person seeking contribution or indemnity has paid response or corrective action costs in accordance with this chapter, Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100), or the federal act. A plaintiff or cross-complainant seeking contribution or indemnity shall give written notice to the director upon filing an action or cross-complaint under this section. In resolving claims for contribution or indemnity, the court may allocate costs among liable parties using appropriate equitable factors.

(e) Notwithstanding this chapter, a response action contractor who is found liable for any costs recoverable under this chapter and who establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that only a portion of those costs are attributable to the response action contractor’s actions shall be required to pay only that portion of the costs attributable to the response action contractor’s actions.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 458, Sec. 2. (AB 275) Effective January 1, 2016.)

25363.5.
  

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, the costs incurred by a state agency to take a hazardous substance response action at the BKK Landfills Site in West Covina shall be deemed to be a contribution towards any potential liability for response costs or damages imposed pursuant to state law upon a state agency that arranged for the disposal or treatment of a hazardous substance at that site.

(b) The Legislature declares its intent that the costs incurred by a state agency to take action in response to a hazardous substance release at the BKK Landfills Site in West Covina shall be deemed to be a contribution towards any potential liability for response costs or damages imposed pursuant to the federal act upon a state agency that arranged for the disposal or treatment of a hazardous substance at that site.

(Added by Stats. 2005, Ch. 81, Sec. 2. Effective July 19, 2005.)

25364.
  

Except as provided in Section 25364.1, no indemnification, hold harmless, conveyance, or similar agreement shall be effective to transfer any liability for cost or expenditures recoverable under this chapter. This section shall not bar any agreement to insure, hold harmless, or indemnify a party to the agreement for any costs or expenditures under this chapter.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 1999, Ch. 23, Sec. 2. Effective May 26, 1999.)

25364.1.
  

(a)  For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1)  “Affiliate” means any entity that directly, or indirectly through one or more intermediaries, controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with, the responsible party owner. For purposes of this paragraph, “control” means the possession, direct or indirect, of the power to direct or cause the direction of the management and policies of an entity, or ownership of shares or interests in the entity possessing more than 50 percent of the voting power.

(2)  “Qualified independent consultant” means either a geologist who is registered pursuant to Section 7850 of the Business and Professions Code or a professional engineer who is registered pursuant to Section 6762 of the Business and Professions Code.

(3)  “Responsible party owner” means the owner of all or part of the site on January 1, 1993, or if all or a part of the site is transferred to a joint venture formed for purposes of development of the site, the owner of the site immediately prior to that transfer.

(4)  “Site” means the site of the former Kaiser Steel Corporation steel mill located near the City of Fontana.

(b)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except as provided in subdivisions (c) and (e), the director may release from liability under this chapter or Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100), and from liability for any claims of the state for recovery of response costs under the federal act, any of the following persons, with regard to a removal or remedial action at the site:

(1)  Any person who provides financing for all, or a substantial part of, the costs of performing a removal or remedial action at the site pursuant to a remedial action plan prepared by a qualified independent consultant and issued by the department pursuant to subdivision (e) of Section 25356.1, except that the release from liability shall not release the person providing this financing from liability for any hazardous substance release or threatened release resulting from that person’s exercise of decisionmaking control over the performance of the removal or remedial action while the responsible party owner remains in possession of the site.

(2)  Any person who enters into an agreement with the responsible party owner to provide development services for the development of all, or a part of, the site, including a developer, who becomes a partner in a joint venture partnership with the responsible party owner, if the joint venture is formed for purposes of the development of the site and legal title to the site is transferred by the responsible party owner to the joint venture. If a release from liability is granted to a developer pursuant to this paragraph and the legal title to the site is transferred by the responsible party owner to a joint venture between the developer and the responsible party owner of the site, the responsible party owner shall not be relieved of liability under this chapter.

(3)  Any person who acquires an ownership or leasehold interest in all or a part of the site after performance of the removal or remedial action specified in the remedial action plan for the site, or part of the site, has been completed to the satisfaction of the department.

(c)  A release from liability shall not be granted pursuant to subdivision (b) unless all of the following conditions are met:

(1)  A responsible party owner has entered into a stipulated settlement of an order issued by the department pursuant to Section 25187, 25355.5, or 25358.3 to perform the removal or remedial action at the site in accordance with the remedial action plan and has arranged financing, contingent only upon obtaining releases from potential liability pursuant to subdivision (b), for the costs of performing the removal or remedial action.

(2)  A responsible party owner agrees to pay all applicable oversight fees required by Section 25343 and to pay any additional costs that are recoverable pursuant to Section 25360.

(3)  No person to be released from liability pursuant to subdivision (b) is a responsible party or an affiliate of a responsible party, with respect to any hazardous substance release existing at the site at the time the release from liability is granted.

(4)  The stipulated settlement requires the responsible party owner to provide irrevocable financial assurances for full performance of the remedial action plan. The financial assurances may consist of one or more of the financial assurance instruments described in Section 66264.143 of Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations. Upon the approval of the department, the forms of these instruments may be revised as appropriate to apply to the costs of performing the removal or remedial action specified in the remedial action plan.

(5)  The director finds that the release from liability to be granted will promote the purposes and goals of this chapter and encourage private investment in property that is in need of remediation.

(d)  The site may be subdivided to create subdivided parcels of land, pursuant to the Subdivision Map Act (Division 2 (commencing with Section 66410) of Title 7 of the Government Code), in order to facilitate removal or remedial action at the site, secure financing for removal or remedial action, or secure financing for development which would generate funds for removal or remedial action at the site.

(e)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a release from liability granted pursuant to subdivision (b) shall not extend to any of the following:

(1)  Any person who was a responsible party for a hazardous substance release existing at the site before the release from liability was granted, and any entity which is an affiliate of such a responsible party.

(2)  Any contractor who prepares the remedial action plan or performs the removal or remedial action provided for in the remedial action plan.

(3)  Any person who obtains a release pursuant to subdivision (b) by fraud or negligent or intentional nondisclosure or misrepresentation.

(4)  Any liability for a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance first deposited at the site by a person released from liability pursuant to subdivision (b) after the release from liability is granted.

(f)  Any release from liability granted by the director pursuant to this section shall contain the following provision: “If, for any reason, the responsible party does not complete the removal or remedial action, this release does not extend to any subsequent actions or activities performed by the released party that exacerbate the conditions at the site.”

(Repealed and added by Stats. 1999, Ch. 23, Sec. 2. Effective May 26, 1999.)

25364.7.
  

The repeal of Section 25364.6 shall not affect any indemnity provided pursuant to that section for any cause of action brought because of any act or omission which occurs before the repeal of that section.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 1999, Ch. 23, Sec. 2. Effective May 26, 1999.)

25365.
  

The entry of judgment against any party to the action shall not be deemed to bar any future action by the state account against any person who is later discovered to be potentially liable for costs and expenditures paid by the state account.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 1999, Ch. 23, Sec. 2. Effective May 26, 1999.)

25365.6.
  

(a) Any costs or damages incurred by the department or regional board pursuant to this chapter constitutes a claim and lien upon the real property owned by the responsible party that is subject to, or affected by, the removal and remedial action. This lien shall attach regardless of whether the responsible party is insolvent. A lien established by this section shall be subject to the notice and hearing procedures required by due process of the law and shall arise at the time costs are first incurred by the department or regional board with respect to a response action at the site.

(b) The department shall not be considered a responsible party for a hazardous substance release site because a claim and lien is imposed pursuant to this section.

(c) The lien provided by this section shall continue until the liability for these costs or damages, or a judgment against the responsible party, is satisfied. However, if it is determined by the court that the judgment against the responsible party will not be satisfied, the department may exercise its rights under the lien.

(d) The lien imposed by this section shall have the force and effect of, and the priority of, a judgment lien upon its recordation in the county in which the property subject to the lien is located. The lien shall contain the legal description of the real property, the assessor’s parcel number, and the name of the owner of record, as shown on the latest equalized assessment roll. The lien shall also contain a legal description of the property which is the site of the hazardous substance release, the assessor’s parcel number for that property, and the name of the owner of record, as shown on the latest equalized assessment roll, of that property.

(e) All funds recovered pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the state account.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 77, Sec. 36. Effective July 18, 2006.)

25366.
  

(a)  This chapter shall not be construed as imposing any new liability associated with acts that occurred on or before January 1, 1982, if the acts were not in violation of existing state or federal laws at the time they occurred.

(b)  Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as authorizing recovery for response costs or damages resulting from any release authorized or permitted pursuant to state law or a federally permitted release.

(c)  Except as provided in Sections 25360, 25361, 25362, and 25363, nothing in this chapter shall affect or modify in any way the obligations or liability of any person under any other provision of state or federal law, including common law, for damages, injury, or loss resulting from a release of any hazardous substance or for removal or remedial action or the costs of removal or remedial action of the hazardous substance.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 1999, Ch. 23, Sec. 2. Effective May 26, 1999.)

25366.5.
  

(a) A public agency operating a household hazardous waste collection program or a person operating such a program under a written agreement with a public agency, or, for material received from the public as used oil, a person operating a certified used oil collection center as provided in Section 48660 of the Public Resources Code, shall not be held liable in a cost recovery action brought pursuant to Section 25360, including, but not limited to, an action to recover the fees imposed by Section 25343 or an action brought pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 25363, for waste that has been properly handled and transported to an authorized hazardous waste treatment, storage, or disposal facility at a location other than that of the collection program.

(b) For purposes of this section, “household hazardous waste collection program” means a program or facility, specified in Section 25218.1, in which hazardous wastes from households and conditionally exempt small quantity generators are collected and ultimately transferred to an authorized hazardous waste treatment, storage, or disposal facility.

(c) Except as provided in subdivision (a), this section does not affect or modify the obligations or liabilities of a person imposed pursuant to state or federal law.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 458, Sec. 3. (AB 275) Effective January 1, 2016.)

25367.
  

(a) Any person who commits any of the following acts shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) for each separate violation, or for continuing violations, for each day during which that violation continues:

(1) Intentionally or negligently makes any false statement or representation in any report or information furnished pursuant to Section 25358.1.

(2) Intentionally or negligently fails to provide any information requested pursuant to Section 25358.1.

(3) Refuses or prevents, without sufficient cause, any activity authorized pursuant to Section 25358.1 or 25358.3.

(b) If a person intentionally or negligently fails to furnish and transmit to any officer or employee of the department, a representative of the director, or a person designated by the director any information required to be disclosed pursuant to Section 25358.1, the department may issue an order directing compliance with the request. The order shall be issued only after notice and opportunity for consultation as is reasonably appropriate under the circumstances.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 459, Sec. 5. (AB 276) Effective January 1, 2016.)

HSCHealth and Safety Code - HSC6.