Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) is also known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Established in 1986, the EPCRA amended the Comprehensive Environment Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. Understanding EPCRA/SARA and CERCLA is critical for organizations working with chemicals deemed to be hazardous. SARA/EPCRA requires that facilities report both routine and accidental chemical releases, and the dangerous chemicals they work with.
Part of EPCRA is the EPCRA Section 313, also known as Toxic Release Inventory or TRI reporting. TRI reporting describes the chemicals that need to be reported when released. EPCRA Section 302 requires the reporting of toxic chemicals being stored. There are EPCRA Tier I (federal) EPCRA Tier II (state and local) reporting requirements. Both EPCRA Tier I and EPCRA Tier II deal directly with hazardous materials. EPA Sara 313 ensures that local, state, and federal government entities are aware of chemicals that could potentially be released. This enables them to act swiftly if a release occurs.
EPCRA is intended to ensure community safety by creating rapid response teams for chemical release incidents. Through EPCRA, it is hoped that fewer environmental disasters and human health hazards occur. EPCRA should work hand-in-hand with internal policies to govern, prevent, and mitigate potential chemical releases.
SARA reporting (Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, also known as the EPCRA) requires that facilities report both routine and accidental chemical releases.
In 1980, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act was created, also known as Superfund. The goal of this act (also known as CERCLA) was to ensure that companies were held accountable for chemical releases — and that resources were available to ensure that these chemical releases were cleaned up and mitigated before significant damage could occur. While it was possible to hold companies accountable on their own, without having the resources available on a logistical level, it was not possible to protect communities.
1986 brought with it the Bhopal disaster, under which thousands of citizens were exposed to potentially toxic chemicals in India. Following the Bhopal disaster, EPCRA/SARA and TRI reporting was created.
The EPCRA act of 1986 further clarified that chemicals would need to be adequately reported. TRI (Toxic Release Inventory) reporting, in EPCRA Section 313, told companies which chemicals were considered hazardous, and indicated that companies needed to alert local, state, and federal entities (including local fire departments) regarding the chemicals they were using. Hazardous materials are separated by extremely hazardous substances and regular hazardous chemicals. The EPA SARA 313 and EPCRA Section 302 outlines which companies are held to these standards and which chemicals must be reported.
Reporting is incredibly essential for mitigation. When a toxic chemical release occurs, local government entities can quickly mobilize. If a fire or flood occurs on a site that stores toxic chemicals, emergency responders will be aware, and consequently will be able to prepare appropriately. EPCRA, SARA, and CERCLA acts are all intended to improve upon company accountability and citizen safety. SARA Tier II, SARA 311, and SARA 312 all correspond to the same sections of EPCRA.
There are Tier II reporting requirements, Tier II reporting exemptions, and Tier II reporting thresholds. Understandably, companies may operate with small amounts of chemicals, or minor releases may occur that do not impact the environment. Rather than wasting resources on these small releases, there are thresholds in place regarding when storage and releases need to be reported.
For NH Tier 2 reporting, the reporting threshold is 10,000 pounds for most chemicals. NH Tier 2 reporting is similar to other states but needs to be submitted through Tier2Submit.
Reporting requirements indicate that companies must report to their local fire departments, their state, and their federal government contacts if they store hazardous chemicals or if they experience an intentional or unintentional release of these chemicals. The Toxic Release Inventory describes the chemicals and their thresholds. Further, EPCRA outlines which companies are responsible for reporting. As an example, most trucking companies are not responsible for reporting if they are simply taking chemicals from one location to another.
A Tier II manager platform can help companies manage their Tier II reporting. Because there are many reporting standards, and because each chemical may have different thresholds, a management platform makes it easier to meet all the relevant deadlines. Tier II reporting is highly localized because it does involve local fire departments and agencies. And, since the chemicals are updated from time to time, companies also need to be aware of whether all their chemicals are listed, and whether they meet current thresholds.
Companies that aren’t up to date on their Tier II reporting can face substantial fines and penalties, especially if a release does occur. Reporting standards are for the benefit of everyone; it creates a paper trail for the organization, protects citizens, and ensures that local agencies responding to toxic releases are prepared for what they encounter.
Because Tier II reporting can be localized, however, it can be difficult for professionals to track all the reporting standards that need to be met. Reporting managers and EPCRA software can make the process faster, easier, and more consistent, and can also be used to help the organization create its disaster management strategies. Since thresholds do change, a management system can update and track these changes automatically.
Notifying local, state, and federal entities isn’t the only burden companies have. Companies also need to work to ensure that they have their own disaster preparedness strategies and that they can mobilize quickly.
What exactly is on the Tier II chemical list? What will companies need to include on a Tier II filing?
The List of Lists by the EPA is a consolidated list of chemicals that can be used by companies to ensure that they are reporting their chemical sheets correctly. The List of Lists is critical for Tier I and Tier II reporting because it also indicates when reporting needs to occur.
It should be noted that though 500,000 chemicals are governed under SDS sheets, companies need to meet a reporting threshold to have to report them. For most chemicals, that reporting threshold is 10,000 pounds. Therefore, chemicals on a Tier II chemical list are chemicals that have an SDS, and that meet the 10,000-pound threshold. A company’s Environment, Health, and Safety Coordinator may need to go over all their chemicals to ensure that they are reporting what they need to report.
There are also Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS). For these, the reporting threshold is 500 pounds rather than 10,000. EHSs are found on 40 CFR Appendix A to part 355.
These forms and reporting requirements are meant to keep companies, employees, and citizens safe. Reporting requirements mean that the federal, state, and local governments are aware of what chemicals an organization has. If an organization experiences a release, the governments can create a plan swiftly. EPCRA was adopted in 1986, following the Bhopal disaster in India. It ensures that citizens are also notified as quickly as possible following toxic spills so that they can protect themselves.
Without Tier II reporting requirements, local government entities wouldn’t be able to respond quickly if a chemical release occurred. With these reporting requirements, disaster preparedness and readiness strategies can be discussed. Further, with these reporting requirements in place, it’s less likely that local agencies (such as firefighters) may be unknowingly exposed to risk. Understanding EPCRA and the SARA 302 list is essential.
Tier II reporting is complicated and depends on the state. Depending on the state, different agencies may govern Tier II reporting, and different systems may be required to complete it. It’s every company’s responsibility to find out how their Tier II reporting has to be submitted, whether they are within the thresholds for reporting, and whether they are reporting by the applicable deadlines. Professionals within the environmental, health and safety industry may want to use a Tier II reporting management system to simplify the process of reporting, and to ensure that reporting is done correctly for each chemical on the list.
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