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EPCRA Overview

In 1986, Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) under Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). The “Emergency Planning” portion of EPCRA establishes requirements to assist communities in planning for chemical emergencies, while the “Community Right-to-Know” portion includes provisions for public access to information regarding hazardous substances at individual facilities. EPCRA requires facilities to report storage, usage, and releases of hazardous substances to federal, state and local government in an effort to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.

Chemical Inventory Reporting (EPCRA Sections 302, 311, and 312)

EPCRA requires initial and annual chemical inventory reporting for facilities that store certain amounts of Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHSs) and Hazardous Chemicals onsite. The information submitted in these reports is used to assist with emergency planning and can help firefighters and hazardous materials technicians respond safely and effectively to emergencies involving hazardous substances.

There are 359 listed EHSs, all of which can be found in Appendices A and B of 40 CFR Part 355. They are also included in US EPA’s “List of Lists,” which can be found on US EPA’s website at https://www.epa.gov/epcra/consolidated-list-lists.

Hazardous Chemicals, on the other hand, are not included on any single list. Instead, a Hazardous Chemical is defined as a chemical or mixture that exhibits one or more of OSHA’s 24 physical or health hazard characteristics. A chemical’s hazard characteristics can typically be found in the Hazards Identification section (Section 2) of its Safety Data Sheet (SDS). The OSHA hazard characteristics include the following:

Physical Hazards

Health Hazards

Combustible dust

Acute toxicity (any route of exposure)

Corrosive to metal

Aspiration hazard

Explosive

Carcinogenicity

Flammable (solids, liquids, gases, or aerosols)

Germ cell mutagenicity

Gas under pressure

Respiratory or skin sensitization

In contact with water emits flammable gas

Serious eye damage or eye irritation

Oxidizer (solid, liquid, or gas)

Simple asphyxiant

Organic peroxide

Reproductive toxicity

Pyrophoric (solid or liquid)

Skin corrosion or irritation

Pyrophoric gas

Specific target organ toxicity

Self-heating

Hazard Not Otherwise Classified (HNOC)

Self-reactive

 

Hazard Not Otherwise Classified (HNOC)

 

Industries We Serve

Initial Chemical Inventory Reporting (EPCRA Sections 302 and 311)

One-time reporting requirements can be found in EPCRA Section 302 for EHSs, and in Section 311 for Hazardous Chemicals.

Facilities are required to make an initial notification to their State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and local jurisdictional fire department within 60 days of first storing an EHS in excess of its Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ), or within 90 days for a Hazardous Chemical in excess of 10,000 pounds. TPQs for individual EHSs can be found in Appendices A and B of 40 CFR Part 355, and in US EPA’s “List of Lists.”

Section 302 and 311 notifications must either provide the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for all substances stored onsite above the applicable threshold, or provide a detailed list of substances and their associated hazards.

Annual Chemical Inventory Reporting (EPCRA Section 312)

EPCRA Section 312 contains annual reporting requirements, and requires facilities to submit a chemical inventory report, also known as a Tier 2 report, each year by March 1st, covering chemical storage during the previous calendar year.

Facilities are required to submit a Tier 2 report if they stored an EHS or Hazardous Chemical in excess of the Threshold Quantity (TQ) at any point in time during the previous calendar year. The TQ for an EHS is the chemical’s TPQ, or 500 pounds, whichever is less. The TQ for a Hazardous Chemical is 10,000 pounds.

A complete Tier 2 report includes the following:

  • Facility Identification Form;
  • Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory form(s);
  • A Facility Map; and
  • Filing Fees.

Tier 2 reports must also be submitted to the SERC, LEPC, and local jurisdictional fire department.

EPCRA Section 302, 311 and 312 reporting requirements vary by state.  Some states accept electronic or hard copy forms, while some states offer online reporting systems. 

Many common chemicals, such as fuel oil and sulfuric acid in batteries, are subject to EPCRA chemical inventory reporting requirements, but are often overlooked by facilities.    GT can assist facilities in determining which EPCRA reporting requirements apply to them, and how to comply with those requirements. 

EPCRA Section 313 – Toxic Release Inventory Reporting

EPCRA Section 313 created the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting program, which tracks information about the management of certain chemicals, including releases and waste management, at industrial and federal facilities. Data collected from TRI reports is made available to the public and is used to encourage pollution prevention and support informed decision-making by companies, government, communities, and the public.

TRI Reports are required to be submitted by facilities that meet the following criteria:

  • The facility employs 10 or more full-time employees;
  • The facility is included in a listed North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code (NAICS codes covered by the TRI program can be found in 40 CFR Part 372.23, or on US EPA’s website at https://www.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program/tri-covered-industry-sectors); and
  • The facility manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses any TRI chemical in quantities greater than its established reporting threshold in a calendar year.

The reporting thresholds for most TRI chemicals are:

  • 25,000 pounds for chemicals that are manufactured or processed; and
  • 10,000 pounds for chemicals that are otherwise used.

Certain chemicals, such as PBTs, may have lower reporting thresholds. There are currently 595 individually listed chemicals and 33 chemical categories covered by the TRI program. A list of these chemicals and categories can be found in 40 CFR Part 372.65, as well as in US EPA’s “List of Lists.”

Facilities that meet all of these criteria must submit a TRI Form R for each TRI chemical it manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses in quantities above the reporting threshold. Facilities that meet certain criteria may opt to submit a simpler form known as the Form A. Reports are due annually on July 1st covering activities conducted during the previous calendar year. TRI Reports are required to be submitted through US EPA’s online reporting system, TRI-MEweb.

Form R’s require detailed information regarding the management of TRI chemicals at a facility, including the methods and amounts of chemicals released to the environment through emissions to air, water or land disposal. Form R’s also include additional information on the methods facilities use to manage and prevent waste, including recycling, energy recovery, disposal, and pollution prevention activities.

GT has extensive experience assisting clients with evaluating the applicability of the TRI program and preparing detailed and accurate TRI calculations and reports. GT also assists facilities with identifying exemptions and reporting alternatives that may reduce the burden of the sometimes complex and onerous TRI data collection and reporting requirements.

EPCRA Section 304 – Release Reporting

Despite facilities’ best efforts, chemical spills and releases, unfortunately, can still occur. EPCRA Section 304 requires facilities to report releases of regulated substances at or above the Reportable Quantity (RQ). Regulated substances include EHSs, hazardous substances listed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), and oil. A release of a regulated substance at or above its RQ must be reported to the SERC and LEPC. Releases of CERCLA hazardous substances and oil must also be reported to the National Response Center (NRC) at 1-800-424-8802.

The RQs for EHSs can be found in Appendices A and B of 40 CFR Part 355, and RQs for CERCLA hazardous substances can be found in 40 CFR Part 302, Table 302.4. RQs for both are also included in US EPA’s “List of Lists.” The RQ for oil is an amount that causes a visible sheen or discoloration on the surface of navigable waters, causes a sludge or emulsion beneath the surface, or violates an applicable water quality standard.

In addition, some states, such as Ohio, have additional oil discharge reporting requirements. Under Ohio law, for example, the RQ for the release of oil into the environment, excluding navigable waters, is 25 gallons or more, or 210 gallons or more for releases from an oil and gas extraction storage facility.

Release reporting consists of an immediate telephone notification and a follow-up written report submitted to the SERC and LEPC as soon as practicable after the release, or within 30 days of the release, depending on the state.

GT can assist facilities with release notification and reporting requirements during these stressful situations. GT can also help prepare companies ahead of time to ensure they are equipped with the information they need to meet the requirements under EPCRA Section 304 in the case of an accidental release.

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