The EPA guidelines on how lead-acid batteries are to be reported for EPCRA and Tier II reporting can be one of the most confusing aspects of environmental compliance. For instance, do compliance and operations teams and facilities report a lead-acid battery as a mixture, or as a component?
Adding to the complexity, certain states like Texas, California, and Oregon, have published their own reporting guidance for lead-acid batteries, so it’s no wonder confusion reigns over issues such as the mixture-or-component question.
Lead-Acid Batteries: The Ultimate Reporting Guide
Encamp has just published the 2nd edition of its Lead-Acid Batteries: The Ultimate Reporting Guide, and it answers the most common Tier II questions about lead-acid batteries for you. Where do these batteries fit in the on-site chemical inventory and threshold equation for Tier II reporting? What should the notification include when you report damaged lead-acid batteries? And of course, how do you settle the mixture or component issue? — which we’ve detailed here.
Mixture reporting vs. component reporting
According to EPA, there are two ways of reporting lead-acid batteries for Tier II. The agency’s recommended approach states that a facility should be consistent in reporting between 311 (SDS Reporting) and 312 (Chemical Inventory Reporting). EPA also states that the submission of the Tier II form can be used for 311 purposes for hazardous chemicals brought on-site between October 1 and December 31 of a calendar year, although you must confirm this with your SERC and LEPC.
For 311, when a new chemical is brought or produced on-site and it exceeds its threshold:
- Facilities must submit the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) of the chemical to their SERC, LEPC, and local fire department within 3 months.
- For lead-acid batteries, all components of the battery are generally combined into one SDS. This can differ if you manufacture, refill, recycle, or provide maintenance on lead-acid batteries at your facility, in which case you might have bulk ingredients on-site, with individual SDSs per ingredient.
- For the general use case, facilities must submit SDSs for the entire lead-acid battery to comply with 311.
Based on EPA’s guidance, reporting between 311 and 312 should be consistent:
- You submitted an SDS for the entire battery to comply with 311, so you must report the entire battery (i.e., as a mixture) on your 312 report, not the components.
- However, if you brought other sulfuric acid sources on-site later, how those sources are reported (individual vs. mixture) would be determined independent of batteries, which are “locked in” as being reported as a mixture.
When reporting lead-acid batteries as a mixture, be sure to include physical and health hazards associated with every mixture component listed on the SDS. Depending on what state your facility is in and what reporting system they have chosen to use, you may have to report the overall mixture as an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS) or the mixture component (sulfuric acid, in this case) as an EHS.
If you’re required to use EPA’s Tier2 Submit software to file your Tier II report, here’s what your lead-acid battery will look like reported as a mixture.
EHS is marked as Yes because EPA requires the overall chemical to be marked as an EHS if one of the mixture components is an EHS.
If your SERC uses E-plan for submissions, the system will require the overall chemical to be marked as an EHS, just like Tier2 Submit. Below is an excerpt from the E-plan instructions.
Tier II Manager
If your SERC (or LEPC) uses Tier II Manager as their portal, you have the option of indicating that the lead-acid batteries contain an EHS and that it exceeds the TPQ. Below is a screenshot from a Tier II Manager report.
If you decide to report the sulfuric acid separately, the reporting is a little more straightforward. Since sulfuric acid is an EHS, you will simply check the EHS box on whichever system your SERC uses.
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