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Environmental Health

Hazardous Waste - Analyzing Soil for Hazardous Waste

The Hazardous Waste Program staff review and process the reports required in the Analyzing the Soil for Hazardous Waste Ordinance (Maher) and oversee activities in the City. These regulations are established pursuant to ordinance no.258-86 adopted the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco to serve as general guidelines for preparing site history and soil analysis reports and for building permit applicants affected by the San Francisco Public Works Municipal Code.

Procedure For Soil Analysis Report

The applicant shall submit a soil sampling and analysis report to the Director of Public Works and the Director of Public Health. Pursuant to San Francisco Public Health Code, Article 22A, soil sampling shall be under the direction of a professional. Qualified professionals include geologists, civil engineers, or engineering geologists, who are experienced in the field of, soils engineering. Soil sample analyses shall be conducted by a certified laboratory in accordance with methods for analyzing samples for the California Department of Health Services or the State water resources control Board and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The person directing the soil sampling and analyses shall prepare the soil analysis report which must include  the information specified in the municipal codes mentioned above (found under the Helpful Links tab and a statement that the result of the sampling program is in his judgment representative of the proposed excavation site conditions.

If the Director of Public Health determines that the soil analysis report does not meet the requirements of Public Works Municipal Code, the Director shall notify the application in writing within 30 days of receipt of the report and indicate the reasons the report is unacceptable. The Directory will also send a copy of the notification to the Director of Public Works.

Procedure For Building Permit Applicants

Applicants for building permits for sites located within the area described in San Francisco Planning Code, Article 10 - preservation of historical architectural and aesthetic landmarksshall be required to sign a:

  1. Receipt form that the applicants has received the informational notice provided by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and 
  2. That the application, being incomplete, has been rejected pending receipt of written notification from the Director of Public Health that the applicant has complied with the requirements of Public Works Municipal Code, article 20.

Permit applications for sites located within the above specified areas will not be rejected provided:

  1. The permit application states that less than 50 cubic yards of soil will be disturbed, or
  2. The applicant establishes that the applicants property has been continuously zoned Residential Zoned Residential under the City Planning Code Since 1921 and has been in residential use since 1921. 
  3. A letter from the Department of City Planning will satisfy this requiremen

For all other sites, a site history and soil analysis report is required to be sent to Department of Public Works (DPW) and Department of Public Health (DPH).

If No Hazardous Waste is Present in Soil Sample

If hazardous wastes are not present on the site per the soil analysis report, DPH will so notify DPW and the applicant in writing. DPH will accept the permit application after receipt of such notice from the applicant.

If Hazardous Waste is Present in Soil Sample

 If the soil analysis report indicates that hazardous wastes are present for which there are no quantitative federal or state standards:

  1. The applicant shall make a written request to the application federal or state agency (ies) for a  written determination as to whether a site mitigation plan is required.
  2. The applicant shall submit a copy of this request to the Director of Public Works and the Director of Public Health, indicating the date the request was made.

DPW will accept the building permit application as complete for purpose of meeting the requirements of Public Works Municipal Code, Article 20. Upon the receipt of the following:

  1. Written notification from the Director of Public Health that the applicant has complied with the site history and soil analysis reporting requirements, and
  2. Written notification from the Director of Public Health that the applicable state or federal agency(ies) has determined that no site mitigation plan (SMP) is required, or
  3. Written notification from the Director of Public Health that the applicant submitted a SMP to the appropriate state or federal agency (ies), completed the SMP and certified in accord with Public Works Municipal Code.  section 1005 that mitigation measures have been completed in compliance with the SMP.

Upon approval of the SMP by the applicable state or federal agency (ies), DPW may issues any permits necessary for the applicant to carry out the SMP.

If the state or federal agency (ies) does not make a determination as to whether a SMP is necessary within 6 months from the date the applicant seeks a determination from the applicable agency, or has not approved or disapproved the SMP within 12 months from the date the applicant submitted the plan, DPW shall notify the City Attorney.

If Hazardous Waste Present in Soil Exceeds Minimum Standards

If the soil analysis report indicates that hazardous wastes are present in the soil at levels exceeding quantitative federal or state minimum standards, DPW will accept the building permit application as complete for purpose of meeting the requirements of Public Works Municipal Code, Article 20 upon receipt of the following:

  1. Written notification from the Director of Public Health that the applicant has complied with the site history and soil analysis reporting requirements, and
  2. Written notification from the Department of Public Health  that the applicant submitted an SMP to the appropriate state or federal agency (ies), completed the SMP and certified in accord with the San Francisco Planning Code, Article 10, at mitigation measures have been completed in Compliance with the SMP.

Upon approval of the SMP by the applicant state or federal agency (ies), DPW may issue any permits necessary for the applicant to carry out the SMP.

If the state or federal agency (ies) has not approved or disapproved the SMP within months from the date the applicant submitted the plan, DPW shall notify the city Attorney as specified in Public Works Municipal Code.

The seller or the seller’s agent involved in the sale or exchange of any real property within the City and County of san Francisco shall provide a copy of ordinance 253-86 to the buyer or buyers and shall obtain a written receipt from the buyer or buyers acknowledging receipt of a copy of the ordinance. Copies of the ordinance are available from Bureau Building Inspection, Room 104, 450 Mcallister Street, San Francisco, Ca 94102 or calling (415) 558-3301.

A permit warning stamp of the San Francisco Public Works Municipal Code, Article 20, will be affixed to the reverse side of the permit at the time issuance.

All building permits issued by the Central Permit Bureau shall bear the following printed warning:

Pursuant to Article 20 of Chapter 10, Part II of the San Francisco Municipal Code (Public Works Code), certain building permits may be issued only after the permittee analyzes the soil for the presence of hazardous wastes and, where applicable, certifies that it has completed site mitigation. No officer, employee, or agency of the City conducted the soil sampling and analyses, recom-mended site mitigation measures, conducted the site mitigation or checked or verified the reports submitted or work performed for accuracy, reliability or adherence to proto-cols. In issuing this permit, neither the City nor any of its officers or employees make any representation that the soil on or about the site is free from the presence of hazardous wastes.  Nor does the City's implementation of this process relieve any person from their duties and responsibilities relating to hazardous waste contamination under state and federal law. Neither soil analysis pursuant to Article 20 of the Public Works Code nor the issuance of this permit is intended to alter, extinguish, or transfer these responsibilities.