Tuesday, September 23, 2014

California Environmental Reporting System (CERS)

(c) Susie Vowell
Any business that has to handle and store hazardous materials has a responsibility to make sure they are doing so responsibly and in a way that meets all current regulations.  For those that store above certain thresholds of hazardous materials, that includes having a Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP) and submitting it to your regulator.  In California that requires using an electronic submittal portal, either one supplied by the individual CUPA in some cases, but in most cases, it means the California Environmental Reporting System, or CERS.

What is CERS?  “The California Environmental Reporting System (CERS) is a statewide web-based system to support California Unified Program Agencies (CUPAs) and Participating Agencies (PAs) in electronically collecting and reporting various hazardous materials-related data as mandated by the California Health and Safety Code and new 2008 legislation (AB 2286). Under oversight by Cal/EPA, CUPAs implement Unified Program mandates that streamline and provide consistent regulatory activities.” (CERS Central website) Yikes.  In much simpler terms that even I can understand, CERS is an electronic submittal program that allows businesses to submit their HMBPs and some other environmental reporting documents, and keep those submittals updated or certify annually that there have been no changes.

Submittals to CERS include hazardous materials business plans, chemical inventories, site maps, underground and aboveground tank data, and hazardous waste related data.  Any business that is regulated by a CUPA and needs to submit such documents must do so electronically using CERS or the individual CUPA reporting portal if they have one.  Paper forms cannot be submitted.  The local CUPA reporting portals and CERS are supposed to communicate and swap data, but that aspect of the program still has some issues.  Your local CUPA is not supposed to require you to submit to their local reporting tool rather than CERS, but you might find that has issues as well.

If you’ve never used CERS before, it’s really not very hard.  There are lots of training resources available on the website, and if you still have questions, I’d be more than happy to help.  You can contact me via my WeWork4Water website, LinkedIn, or e-mail me at .