What is Emergency Planning and Community Right To Know Act (EPCRA)?
The Emergency Planning and Community Right To Know Act (EPCRA) was passed in the response to concerns regarding the environment and safety hazards posed by the storage and handling of toxic chemicals. These concerns were triggered by the 1984 disaster in Bhopal, India. More than 2,000 people suffered death or serious injury from the accidental release of methyl isocyanante. To reduce the likelihood of such a disaster in the United States, Congress imposed requirements on both states and regulated facilities.
The Emergency Planning and Community Right To Know Act (EPCRA) establishes requirements for Federal, State, and local governments, Indian Tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and "Community Right To Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. The Community Right To Know provision helps increase the public's knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and release into the environment. States and communities, working with facilities, can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
What are the key provisions of the Emergency Planning and Community Right To Know Act (EPCRA)?
Emergency Planning (Sections 301 to 303): Local governments are required to prepare chemical emergency response plans and to review plans at least annually. State governments are required to oversee and coordinate local planning efforts. Facilities that maintain Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHSs) on-site in quantities greater than corresponding Threshold Planning Quantities (TPQs) must cooperate in emergency plan preparation. Learn more.....
Emergency Notification (Section 304): Facilities must immediately report accidental releases of Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) chemicals and "hazardous substances" in quantities greater than corresponding Reportable Quantities (RQs) defined under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to state and local officials. Information about accidental chemical releases must be available to the public. Learn more.....
Community Right To Know Requirements (Sections 311 and 312): Facilities manufacturing, processing, or storing designated hazardous chemicals must make Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) describing the properties and health effects of these chemicals available to state and local officials and local fire departments. Facilities must also report, to state and local officials and local fire departments, inventories of all on-site chemicals for which MSDSs exist. Information about chemical inventories at facilities and MSDSs must be available to the public. Learn more.....
Toxics Release Inventory (Section 313): Facilities must complete and submit a Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Form annually for each of the more than 600 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) chemicals that are manufactured or otherwise used above the applicable threshold quantities. Learn more.....
Regulation implementing the Emergency Planning and Community right to Know Act (EPCRA) are codified in Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
What is Tier Two Reporting?
The Community Right To Know Act, also known as the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA) Title III or the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), requires owners or operators of a facility to submit an emergency and hazardous chemical inventory to the State Emergency Response Commission, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and the local Fire Departments with jurisdiction over the facility.
This inventory is submitted as a Tier Two Report that must be filed by March 1st of each year. State and local agencies have the authority to modify reporting requirements as long as the minimum federal guidelines are being addressed. It is important that the owner or operator be familiar with the "Right To Know" laws and that the reporting procedure he decides to use satisfies state reporting requirements.
What chemicals should be reported?
Hazardous chemicals covered by Section 312 are those for which facilities are required to prepare or have available Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and that were present at the facility at any time during the calendar year above specified thresholds.
What are the thresholds?
Federal rules require reporting these hazardous chemicals if the inventory exceeds 10,000 pounds at any one time, and for extremely hazardous chemicals when the inventory exceeds 500 pounds or the Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ).