Permit By Rule - Management of Aqueous Waste Containing Cyanide

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This information should not be the only guidance used to comply with Permit by Rule regulations.  Generators are responsible for following the specific sections of California Code of Regulations, Title 22, section 67450. This guidance supplements the regulations and two existing fact sheets on Permit by Rule: “Fixed Treatment Unit Operating Under Permit by Rule” and “Transportable Treatment Unit Operating Under Permit by Rule.”


For more information, contact DTSC’s Regulatory Assistance Officers at 800-72TOXIC, or email them at



Generator Requirements

Hazardous Waste Determination

Generators are required to classify their solid wastes as soon as they are subject to regulation in order to ensure that hazardous wastes will always be safely managed. California Code of Regulations, title 22, chapter 11 addresses the identification of hazardous wastes.

To determine if a waste is a hazardous waste, you need to know its physical and chemical nature. It is necessary to know all chemical components that make up the specific waste. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) may tell you something about the properties and constituents of your waste. Without this type of information, you may have to test each waste to determine if it is hazardous waste.

DTSC Guidance

Other Guidance




Permit By Rule Program

Program Description

The Permit by Rule process allows generators of hazardous waste to treat certain wastes without having to go through the formal permitting process. Permit by Rule Permit treatment must be done in tanks or containers. Furthermore, the treatment and waste streams must be eligible for Permit by Rule. See Permit by Rule Fact Sheet for more details. If the treatment and the waste stream are not specifically allowed under Permit by Rule, another form of authorization will be necessary.

Who May Apply

Generators wanting to treat their own hazardous wastes on site before shipping the waste off site for continued treatment, storage or disposal may utilize this Permit by Rule.

Who Administers Permit by Rule?

The Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) is responsible for reviewing notification forms for businesses located within its jurisdiction. A list of CUPA addresses and phone numbers is available on the California CUPA Web site and on the CalEPA Web site.

Application Process

Generators must submit the completed required notification forms to the local CUPA by certified mail or in person a minimum of 60 days before beginning the first waste treatment. An annual Permit by Rule notification must also be submitted by March 1st each year.

Notification Forms

The required forms are available from your local CUPA, DTSC, or CERS Central website. (Updated July 2017)

  • Business Activities page;
  • Business Owner/Operator/Identification page;
  • Onsite Hazardous Waste Treatment Notification; and
  • Permit By Rule page.

Additional Certifications and Information Required for Applying

  • Certification specifying the local authorities (POTWs) have been notified;
  • Treatment facility information;
  • Documentation that the property owner has been notified;
  • Financial assurance certifications;
  • Business disclosure statement; and
  • Phase I environmental assessment.

Duration of Permit by Rule

The Permit by Rule remains effective until the process that generates the waste changes or the treatment process changes.


The fees associated with this Permit by Rule are billed annually by the local CUPA if you operate during any part of a calendar year.

Fact Sheets


The fees associated with this Permit by Rule are billed annually by the local CUPA if you operate during any part of a calendar year.



Permit by Rule: Treatment for Aqueous Waste Containing Cyanide

The following are highlights of the new regulations for Permit by Rule for Aqueous Waste Containing Cyanide. Please refer to the Permit by Rule fact sheet or the regulations for more details.

New Permit by Rule Eligible Treatment Methods for Aqueous Waste Streams Containing Cyanide

  1. oxidation by addition of hypochlorite;
  2. oxidation by addition of peroxide or ozone, with or without the use of ultraviolet light;
  3. alkaline chlorination;
  4. electrochemical oxidation;
  5. ion exchange; or
  6. reverse osmosis.

New Permit by Rule Eligible Aqueous Waste Streams Containing Cyanide

The following can be treated with any of the above named eligible treatment methods: aqueous wastes generated by

  1. Rinsing workpieces and fixtures holding workpieces that were processed in cyanide-containing solutions;
  2. Reverse osmosis or the regeneration of demineralizer (ion exchange) columns that were used for recycling of wastewaters at facilities that maintain zero discharge of wastewaters derived from the treatment of cyanide-containing aqueous waste;
  3. Rinsing containers, pumps, hoses, and other equipment used to transfer cyanide solutions onsite;
  4. Rinsing spent anode bags or empty containers prior to onsite reuse; or
  5. Onsite laboratories conducting analyses and testing.

Additional Eligible Aqueous Waste Streams/Treatment Method Activities for Aqueous Waste Streams Containing Cyanide

  1. Spent process solutions containing recoverable amounts of metal may be treated by electrowinning in order to recover those metals; and
  2. Spent process solutions may be treated by diluting into the aqueous waste, provided the resulting solutions are further treated by any of the eligible treatment methods listed above.

Best Management Practices

There are many best management practices that facilities can use to reduce waste generation, and minimize or eliminate releases to work areas and the environment. The new regulations will require all facilities that chose to operate under Permit by Rule to treat cyanide waste to meet the following:

  1. use holding racks or drain boards between all process and rinse tanks to contain plating drag-out, rinse solution drag-out, and return drag-out solutions to process tanks;
  2. use countercurrent rinsing to reduce water use and wastewater generation when multiple sequential rinse tanks are used;
  3. at a minimum, every four years, review the use of cyanide-containing process baths to determine if a non-cyanide alternative with equivalent results is available; and
  4. provide initial and annual training to employees, who handle cyanide process solutions, cyanide-containing rinse waters, or manage cyanide-containing aqueous waste, on how to reduce wastes in the production area.




Other Regulatory Issues


Unless otherwise subject to special requirements, generators of recyclable materials that are solid and hazardous wastes are subject to the same regulations as other generators of hazardous waste. The recycling exemption applies to the recycling unit itself, not the waste in it. Therefore, if the waste is stored prior to recycling, all applicable storage requirements and quantity limitations apply. If the waste is hazardous waste before it is put into the recycling unit, it is hazardous waste while it’s in the unit. Whether it is hazardous waste after recycling depends on the unit and the waste. For example, anode bags may no longer be hazardous wastes after recycling, but the wastewater generated during rinsing may be. Exemptions for hazardous waste treatment permits for recycling of hazardous waste are included in the specific requirements for recyclable materials outlined in Health and Safety Code, section 25143.2.

Note:  The Permit by Rule regulations do not affect any recycling exemptions that exist in law or regulations.

Land Disposal Restrictions

Land disposal restrictions (LDR) apply additional limits to the ways in which waste may be managed, it is necessary to immediately determine if a hazardous waste is subject to LDR. Generators must, therefore, fully characterize their wastes at the point of generation to determine if their hazardous waste is subject to LDR. The LDRs require that a hazardous waste must be treated or meet specified levels for hazardous constituents before being disposed of on the land. This is called the disposal prohibition. Instead of requiring barriers to separate hazardous contaminants from groundwater like much of the other environmental requirements, LDR requires that hazardous wastes undergo fundamental physical or chemical changes so that they pose less of a threat to groundwater.

Waste Analysis Plan

Generators that treat their hazardous waste using a Permit by Rule are required to have a written waste analysis plan. The waste analysis plan is used to document the procedures used to obtain representative samples and to conduct detailed chemical and physical analysis of the samples. It is also used to document any special handling procedures for the waste and must contain all information necessary for proper treatment of the waste in accordance with the requirements of the Land Disposal Restrictions. Development of the waste analysis plan allows the generator to analyze different treatment options, provides for reliable waste identification, promotes consistency in waste analysis, treatment, and disposal independent of changes in personnel, ensures adequate personnel training, provides for appropriate spill response, ensures waste compatibility with treatment, and demonstrates compliance with hazardous waste requirements.

Generators must develop and implement a written waste analysis plan that includes detailed chemical and physical analyses of the waste and thoroughly describes the procedures that will be used during treatment, including any testing that may be necessary to demonstrate that the desired treatment goals have been achieved. The plan must ensure adequate personnel training, provide for appropriate spill response, ensure waste compatibility with the selected treatment process and demonstrate compliance with hazardous waste requirements. This plan should be retained in the generator’s operating records.

Tank Certifications

Hazardous waste tank systems used for the treatment of aqueous cyanide waste authorized by Permit by Rule are required to be assessed and certified by a professional engineer. (California Code of Regulations, title 22, sections 66265.191, and 66265.192, and subsection 67450.3(c)(9)(F))



Pollution Prevention

DTSC’s Metal Finishing Model Shop Program

The Metal Finishing Model Shop program is a partnership between industry and regulatory agencies to help metal finishing businesses run cleaner, safer shops. Participants in the voluntary program work with DTSC and local regulatory staff to identify and eliminate possible pollution sources and build on their existing pollution prevention efforts.

The Model Shop Program began in southern California and, with the benefit of State legislation, is expanding throughout all of California.  Businesses participating receive a free on-site pollution prevention assessment of their facility, free assistance in complying with regulations, free pollution prevention training, and recognition for successfully completing the program. More about the Metal Finishing Model Shop Program

DTSC’s Pollution Prevention Program

DTSC's Pollution Prevention program provided guidance to businesses on implementing pollution prevention principles to help generate less solid and hazardous waste, use fewer toxic chemicals, conserve water and energy, and reduce air pollution. These strategies were intended to reduce the burden of cleaning up contaminated sites across California by reducing the sources of pollution through education and process improvements.

DTSC currently preparing two industry assessments reports on the metal finishing industry and printed circuit board manufacturing. The assessments will profile selected individual facilities, identify major waste streams, and summarize hazardous waste source reduction accomplishments from 2002 to 2006. The assessment will also quantify projections for further reducing these major waste streams from 2006 to 2010. Both reports should be available in the spring of 2009.

DTSC Source Reduction Guidance Documents

Environmental Management System

An Environmental Management System is a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency. This system involves a continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving the processes and actions that an organization undertakes to meet its business and environmental goals.

  • A Guide to Developing an Environmental Management System for Metal Finishing Facilities, U.S. EPA.
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has developed an environmental management system Implementation Guide for the Metal Finishing Sector. The following webpage includes a publication for small business owners or employees of metal finishing facilities who have decided to do an environmental management system for their facility or company.
  • Metal Finishing EMS Template, US EPA Region IX.
    U.S. EPA Region 9 developed the attached Metal Finishing Environmental Management System Template which includes industry-specific tools and guidance on the basic elements of an Environmental Management System that can help ease implementation. This Template is designed to help metal finishers create an environmental management system that improves compliance with environmental regulations, promotes pollution prevention, and can be implemented in a streamlined, cost-effective manner. An environmental management system provides a framework for a metal finisher to systematically identify, prioritize, manage, mitigate, and document the environmental aspects and impacts of its operations.

U.S. EPA Federal Pollution Prevention Guidance

    • What can metal finishers do to make F006 more recyclable, while optimizing pollution prevention?
    • What pollution prevention practices are in place at metal finishing facilities?
    • What are the environmental impacts of F006 recycling?
  • Guides To Pollution Prevention: The Fabricated Metal Products Industry, U.S. EPA
    This guide provides an overview of the metal fabrication processes and operations that generate waste and presents options for minimizing waste generation through source reduction and recycling. Such processes are an integral part of aerospace, electronic, defense, automotive, furniture, domestic appliance, and many other industries. Fabricated metal processes generate various hazardous waste streams, including oily wastes from machining operations, heavy metal bearing streams from surface treatment and plating operations, and additional wastes related to paint application.
  • Guide to Cleaner Technologies: Alternative Metal Finishes, U.S. EPA, 1994
    This guide describes cleaner technologies that can be used to reduce waste and emissions from metal finishing operations. All metal finishing processes generate wastes. This guide addresses processes using toxic or carcinogenic ingredients that are hard to destroy or stabilize and dispose of in an environmentally sound manner. The guide is valuable to metal finishing firms that use all types of metal finishes on both metallic and nonmetallic components, firms that use cadmium and chromium finishes, and finishers that use cyanide-based baths or copper/formaldehyde solutions.
  • Region IX Metal Finishing Pollution Prevention Webpage



Additional Guidance