Understanding Hazardous Chemicals Reporting | CERCLA, SARA/EPCRA

CERCLA was created to improve upon the environmental clean up of dangerous chemical spills, and later augmented by SARA/EPCRA. 

In the 1980s, the United States enacted a federal law called the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act — otherwise known as CERCLA. CERCLA facilitated the clean up of sites that were contaminated by hazardous chemicals. This is usually known as Superfund, and is attached to the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA Reporting). CERCLA, and SARA/EPCRA all work together to ensure that hazardous chemicals usage and spills are reported.

SARA was instituted in 1986. Title III of SARA is commonly known as EPCRA – the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act.

Let’s take a look at the SARA Title III fact sheet and SARA Title III reporting. SARA sections 302 to SARA 304 outlines emergency planning and emergency release notifications under SARA reporting. SARA 313 further clarifies the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory, also known as TRI. CERCLA came before SARA to outline responsibilities regarding chemical spills and clean ups, but EPCRA is far more robust, and includes requirements that citizens and government agencies be notified of a chemical release.

Companies need to be aware of their SARA reporting requirements and need to act swiftly if they are required to report.

SARA outlines which chemicals have to be reported, which thresholds they have to be reported at, and which agencies and individuals need to know both when chemicals are being used and when a chemical release has occurred. By following SARA, companies are able to have preemptive plans in place regarding what to do when a chemical spill happens. Companies are also able to react as quickly as possible when these chemical spills do happen, limiting environmental and personal harm.

  1. In the 1980s, CERCLA was created to facilitate the clean up of sites contaminated by hazardous chemicals.
  2. Six years later, SARA was created to give further guidelines regarding how chemicals were controlled and contained.
  3. Both CERCLA and SARA are important for organizations to understand if they are to maintain compliance.

EPA List of Lists

The EPA List of Lists is a consolidated list of chemicals subject to reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), as well as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. 

For companies to protect themselves and the environment, they need to know which chemicals are considered to be hazardous, and what their levels of toxicity are. The EPA List of Lists can assist with this process. Through the EPA List of Lists, which is referenced in CERCLA and SARA, companies can check on which chemicals are subject to reporting requirements.

Companies should keep careful inventory of the chemicals that they’re using and their quantities. They should control how these chemicals are used and stored. And if there is a release, they need to respond immediately.

Professionals in environmental, health, and safety should take care to follow all reporting standards and to know the Tier II reporting thresholds of the chemicals that are used throughout each facility. Local agencies, federal agencies, and fire departments may need to be notified once these reporting thresholds are met.

Ultimately, the EPA List of Lists is one of the most important resources because it provides so much information to the company in a consolidated format. Digitizing the EPA List of Lists can help an organization keep track of it.

  1. The EPA List of Lists is a consolidated and comprehensive list of the chemicals that need to be reported on.
  2. Companies should regularly research and consider the regulations that they need to follow, including CERCLA/SARA.
  3. Companies need to be able to react quickly when chemicals are at or above the reporting quantities denoted by CERCLA/SARA.
  4. CERCLA, SARA, and the Clean Air Act are all important to protecting the environment and improving safety.

EPCRA Section 313

Companies looking into their chemical regulations should take a look at EPCRA Section 302, EPCRA Section 311, and EPCRA Section 313. The EPA List of Lists provides a consolidated list of chemicals that are subject to reporting requirements under Section 302 and 313.

EPCRA Section 302 extremely hazardous substances is a comprehensive list of the chemicals that organizations need to be concerned about reporting. Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), there are a number of chemicals outlined in addition to the quantities that would be considered a reportable threshold. 40 CFR part 355 Appendix A has the hazardous chemicals and their threshold planning quantities. EPCRA Section 302 is particularly important because there are over 700 chemicals that are on the EPCRA list and 40 CFR Part 372.

But most companies are not going to be using so many chemicals. A company may only be using two or three potentially hazardous chemicals. They should use the EPCRA lists to ensure that they know the reporting quantities for these chemicals. They should also carefully control these chemicals and respond quickly in the event of a release incident.

Companies should also make sure that they are part of the NAICS lists which govern whether they are a company that needs to follow EPCRA Section 313 to begin with. The NAICS list outlines the different industries and company types that have to follow these regulations, such as chemical manufacturers and waste disposal facilities.

40 CFR Part 374 and all the other parts of the EPCRA give details to a company on how they need to run their internal controls. Companies also need to create a proactive strategy in the event that they do experience a disaster, as well as a plan for notifying all the necessary parties should the worst occur. EPCRA isn’t just about responding after an incident occurs, but also about taking measures to ensure that an incident does not. It’s about companies creating effective internal controls that will prevent potential incidents, while also knowing how to react to an incident once it happens.

  1. EPCRA provides a comprehensive list of chemicals that need to be controlled, as well as the quantities that are considered to be reportable.
  2. Companies that are following EPCRA regulations can check on chemicals considered hazardous through the 40 CFR part 355 Appendix A.
  3. In addition to determining EPCRA regulations, companies should work to reduce their chances for accidents.
  4. NAICS lists can also tell companies whether they are bound by EPCRA regulations, though the general practices are still a good idea.

Tier II Reporting Requirements

Tier II reporting requirements are known as the Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Forms. Tier II reports need to be submitted by the annual Tier II reporting deadline to local fire departments, planning committees, and state emergency response commissions.

Local fire departments, emergency planning committees, and state emergency commissions need to be aware of the potential hazardous spills for future planning. But how can they know when companies are using these chemicals? Through Tier II reporting requirements.

Section 312 of EPCRA outlines the chemicals that fall under the Tier II reporting requirements, and the Tier II reporting exemptions. Tier II reporting means that companies need to file an annual form regarding the hazardous chemicals they’re storing. From there, the local emergency planning committees (LEPC) and the state emergency response commissions (SERCs) can all work to improve upon their community response.

Of course, that’s no substitute for the company having its own emergency response.

The company has to have an emergency response plan in place, in which they respond to a release, while also ensuring that the appropriate individuals are notified. Together, the state and the company can work to ensure that any chemical spills are contained quickly, and that those who could be impacted are alerted right away.

To manage EPCRA Tier II, companies should have a full Tier II emergency and hazardous chemical inventory, and they should carefully control the quantities of the chemicals that they use. They need to be able to determine exactly what quantities have been used or released and when, which means that their internal systems, processes, and equipment need to be well-maintained and managed. And, should the worst happen, they need to be able to notify the appropriate authorities quickly, and they need to have had their inventory up-to-date.

EPCRA, created in 1986, is designed to protect the environment, employees, and citizens from the consequences of serious chemical spills. Created after the 1984 Bhopal Disaster (though the EPCRA/SARA itself was formed in 1986), EPCRA covers a wide variety of aspects: proactively preparing for chemical incident, reporting chemical use, reporting chemical spills, and maintaining a disaster preparedness plan. But when the right reporting is done and the right processes are achieved, the risks related with dealing with hazardous chemicals are much lower.

  1. Tier II emergency and hazardous chemical inventory lists give companies guidance on which chemicals need to be controlled and reported.
  2. Companies are required to report their hazardous chemicals to local authorities on an annual basis, including planning committees and the fire department.
  3. Companies should be aware of their reporting requirements and deadlines, and work swiftly to report the release of dangerous quantities.
  4. Together, local fire departments, local emergency planning committees, and state emergency response commissions will plan for and respond to chemical emergencies.

Tier II Manager

Tier II Manager is an Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know software platform by IDSi International. Tier II manager makes it easier for organizations to manage their reporting.

Companies have to manage their reporting based on their state, because Tier II reporting occurs on a state basis. Louisiana Tier II reporting will be different from Florida Tier II reporting or Nevada Tier II reporting, due to the different agencies and systems involved. Every company managing chemicals on the Tier II hazardous inventory list may have to report to their local government, planning committee, and fire department, and that also means knowing which departments they fall under and what their deadlines are.

With the Tier II Manager, an Oregon company can log in and know what their Oregon Tier II reporting requirements might be. Arkansas Tier II reporting, on the other hand, might be entirely different.

Tier II Manager is used by 14 states and 10 state-level programs, including Illinois, Minnesota, Kentucky, Oregon, Nevada, and Maryland. It streamlines the entire process of reporting and remaining compliant, making it easier for companies to remain compliant, and easier for them to do so without excessive administrative burden. It has a few different versions: standard, stand alone, centralized enterprise, and distributed enterprise edition.

Advantages of using Tier II Manager are:

  1. Significant cost savings benefits. There are fewer work hours that need to be put into achieving compliance.
  2. Streamlined workflow. A single system can manage all issues of compliance.
  3. Improved compliance. It’s more likely that companies will follow their regulations.

Altogether, this creates an all-in-one, comprehensive solution that makes it easier for companies to maintain compliance without a burden on them. Companies that are having issues with their EPCRA compliance can also apply for EPCRA grants and work with professionals and consultants.

  1. Companies can streamline their Tier II management by using a software program such as Tier II Manager.
  2. Tier II Manager helps with reporting for companies that are in 14 states, by making it easier for them to transmit their compliance data.
  3. Tier II Manager works with over 2,700+ local government agencies such as LEPCs, Fire, and HAZMAT teams.‍

If you’re interested in how Encamp helps EHS managers deliver consistent processes and first-rate compliance programs, request a demo.

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