The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act — EPCRA — was passed in 1986 in response to chemical-related safety and environmental concerns in communities throughout the U.S. Specifically, the concerns stemmed from hazardous chemicals stored and handled in facilities located in these local communities.
Since 2018, Encamp’s Tier II Reporting software for section 312 EPCRA compliance has made us the EHS industry’s largest third-party filer of Tier II reports. Compliance reporting is also one of the critical steps in Encamp’s Guided Environmental Compliance method that integrates digital technology into compliance program areas to centralize information, make data more visible, and build a continuous and auditable process for EHS operations. This guided method also blends Encamp’s high-tech software with the high-touch support of our compliance experts, who know the in’s and out’s of EPCRA and its sections that set regulatory provisions for regulated facilities within a local jurisdiction.
Yet given the complexities of EPCRA, we get questions about it virtually every day. Especially for Tier II and reporting, here’s what you should know about EPCRA… in simple terms. Call it our way of helping you and your EHS team avoid the common reporting errors we see companies make every year in their Tier II filings.
Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public’s knowledge and access to information on chemicals stored at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities, working with facilities, use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
Gotta love all the acronyms, right? At the state level is a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), or where applicable, a Tribal Emergency Response Commission (TERC). A Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) resides on the local level in each community within a state.
The SERC supervises and coordinates the activities of the LEPC, establishes procedures for receiving and processing public requests for information collected under EPCRA, and reviews local emergency response plans. In regards to TERCs, the Chief Executive Office of the Tribe appoints the commission’s members; TERCs have the same responsibilities as SERCs.
LEPCs are composed of local officials including police, fire, civil defense, public health, transportation, and environmental professionals. Also serving on these committees are representatives of facilities subject to the emergency planning requirements, as well as community groups and the media. LEPCs must develop an emergency response plan, review it annually (at a minimum), and provide information about chemicals stored or used in the community to local citizens.
EPCRA entails four core responsibilities for chemical use and storage, classified by sections. These sections apply to all regulated facilities within a local jurisdiction.
A fifth EPCRA section is section 322, Trade Secrets. For companies that wish to claim trade secrets for chemicals reported under EPCRA, EPA requires a facility to submit a substantiation to justify the claim of trade secrecy as specified in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), parts 350 to 372. The section 322 form has four parts:
See EPA’s EPCRA website for more in-depth sections information, frequently asked questions, and guidance documents.
Tier II reporting is housed under EPCRA section 312. For regulated facilities, the requirements of this section dictate that facilities submit an annual inventory of hazardous chemicals onsite that surpass a stated quantity threshold. Thresholds are federally mandated, but can be superseded by state or local requirements. Chemical inventories are submitted to the facility’s SERC (or TERC), LEPC, and local fire department.
LEPCs are tasked with emergency response planning and notification for their communities, which directly involves the facility that stores extremely hazardous substances. You must comply if your facility meets the following conditions:
Emergency Response plans contain information that community officials can use at the time of a chemical accident.
A response plan report must include:
Emergency notification reports must be submitted immediately to officials at both the local (LEPC) and state (SERC, TERC) levels whenever a facility accidentally releases hazardous substances and/or EHSs.
Substances include any of the EPA’s listed types of chemicals in an amount equal to or greater than its reportable quantity.
An emergency notification report must include:
Again, Tier II reporting is a section 312 requirement. Per Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, facilities must maintain an MSDS or SDS for any hazardous chemical used or stored in the workplace.
Note that these guidelines apply at the federal level. States may have a lower threshold.
A Tier II report must include:
As a mandatory program for toxic chemical releases and pollution prevention activities reported by industrial and federal facilities, TRI typically applies to larger facilities involved in manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, or hazardous waste treatment. Currently, more than 21,000 facilities around the U.S. are subject to TRI requirements, which is determined by your facility’s NAICS Code, number of full-time employees, and chemical thresholds.
In all, TRI examines wastewater discharges, air emissions through stacks, air flow through doors and windows (fugitive air release), off-site transfer of waste or by-products to landfills or recycling facilities, and surface water discharge like storm water. TRI reports are due annually on July 1st.
Chemicals covered by the TRI program are those that cause cancer or other chronic human health effects, significant adverse acute human health effects, and significant adverse environmental effects. See TRI chemical changes as of January 2022.
Note that these are federal schedules. For sections 302 and 304, states may have more stringent timelines.
Encamp is on a mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. We help enterprises transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system that lays the foundation for accurate and ongoing environmental compliance through a blended method of intelligent high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support.
Megan is Encamp’s VP of Compliance & Customer Success and formerly a Senior Environmental Scientist. But she’s also a Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer® (CESCO), an EHSMS Internal Auditor, a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager, eRailSafe certified, a HAZWOPER 40 Hour - Emergency Response Technician, and skilled in RCRA, DOT, and ISO 14001. Obviously, she knows “compliance.”