North Carolina Tier II Reporting
Tier Ⅱ reporting in North Carolina is required for any facility that stores hazardous chemicals that meet or exceed chemical thresholds. Under Section 312 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), submission of a Tier Ⅱ form is required when working with hazardous chemicals. This form, known as the Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Forms, is used to notify state officials, local officials, and the general public regarding potential hazards.
Understanding North Carolina’s Tier II Reporting Requirements
Who Needs to Report?
North Carolina sets its own threshold for all hazardous substances, unless the TPQ in the federal list is lower, in which case, the lower amount is used. Any facility in North Carolina that has hazardous substances equal to or greater than the established threshold amounts (listed below) must report.
- Any facility that stores 55 gallons or 500 lbs (or the federal threshold planning quantity, whichever is less) or more of hazardous substances.
- Retail fuel stations with underground storage tanks need to report if they store:
- 75,000 gallons or more of gasoline
- 100,000 gallons or more of diesel fuel (all grades combined)
- The reporting thresholds in North Carolina apply to the total quantity stored at a facility at any one time.
- Even if thresholds are met, chemicals with reporting exemptions do not need to be included
- Only facilities in North Carolina meeting or exceeding the thresholds for at least one chemical must submit a Tier II report. Facilities below the thresholds for all chemicals are exempt.
- More information about reporting requirements in North Carolina can be found here.
Types of Facilities Subject to Tier II Reporting
Here are some common examples of facilities and chemicals that would require Tier II reporting in North Carolina:
- Chemical manufacturers – Facilities that manufacture hazardous chemicals like acids, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, chlorine, etc. would need to report those inventories.
- Fuel terminals – Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other petroleum product storage facilities would report inventories.
- Wastewater treatment plants – Sodium hypochlorite, chlorine gas, and other water treatment chemicals would be reported.
- Hospitals – Anesthetic gases, lab chemicals, disinfectants, and radioactive materials may require reporting if inventory thresholds are exceeded.
- University labs – Chemical inventories of acids, solvents, elemental lithium, and other hazardous reagents would need reporting.
- Metal facilities – Strong acids/bases, cyanides, paints, and degreasers used in metal processing may require Tier II filings.
Facilities in these industries would likely need to report common chemicals stored over Tier II thresholds like acids, flammable liquids, fuels, chlorine, and ammonia.
North Carolina’s Electronic Tier II Reporting System (E-Plan)
Overview of E-Plan
E-Plan is the only method of chemical inventory submission accepted by the North Carolina SERC. Paper submissions do not meet North Carolina’s reporting requirements.
How to Submit a Tier II Report in North Carolina
Here are the key steps for submitting a Tier II report in North Carolina using the state’s E-Plan system:
- Gather the required information – This includes an inventory of all hazardous chemicals stored on-site above reporting threshold limits, along with basic facility identification information
- Create a new account or sign in with your existing credentials.
- Add facilities under the Facilities module by entering the facility name, address, coordinates, submitter info, etc.
- Add contacts under the Contacts module by entering names, addresses, emails, phone numbers for owners, emergency contacts, etc.
- Add chemical inventory under the Chemicals module by entering chemical properties, storage info, mixtures, etc.
- E-Plan will generate an invoice based on the facility location. This must be paid electronically at the time of submission.
- Review and submit your report. Download a copy for your records and for additional submissions to your LEPC and fire department.
- In North Carolina, the facility is responsible for checking with their local LEPC and fire department to determine how they want to receive a copy of the Tier II Report. Check with your local jurisdictions and make sure you send them a copy of your report from E-Plan.
- You must check with your LEPC and local fire department on how they want their Tier II reports submitted.
- There is a fee for filing a Tier II report when using E-Plan and consists of:
- $50 for every hazardous substance above the Tier II reporting threshold.
- $90 for every EHS above the Tier II reporting threshold.
- Fees are capped at $5,000 per facility. In addition, the following are exempt from fees:
- Family farms
- Local, state, and federal government facilities
- Non-profit corporations
- Fuel used for retail sale at commercial gas stations
- Motor vehicle dealers as defined by G.S. 20-286 (11).
Deadlines and Timelines for Tier II Reporting
Annual Reporting Deadline
In North Carolina, the Tier II reporting deadline is due March 1, annually regarding information on hazardous chemicals present at the facility in the previous calendar year.
Additional Reporting Requirements
In North Carolina, there may be additional Tier II chemical inventory reporting requirements beyond just the annual report:
- Facilities with more than a threshold quantity of certain chemicals must submit a detailed chemical inventory list or Safety Data Sheet (SDS) information to the SERC within 15 days of the chemicals coming on site.
- Federal laws allow LEPCs and local fire departments to determine their own requirements for notification. Many, but not all, local jurisdictions in North Carolina follow the federal Section 311 requirement of 90 days after a chemical comes on-site; contact your LEPC, local fire department, or emergency management agency to determine their requirements.
Tips for Effective Tier II Reporting
Maintain Accurate Inventory Records
Starting early in collecting compliance data will help with making sure all the data is accurate and ready to go when the March 1st deadline comes around. A good rule of thumb is to have data ready to review the first week of January.
Understand State-Specific Reporting Requirements
In North Carolina, E-Plan is the only method for Tier II submission required by the SERC. In North Carolina, you must submit an initial notification within 15 days of a chemical coming on-site. North Carolina also has state-specific thresholds for hazardous substance reporting on a Tier II Report. Make sure to use the proper threshold planning quantity.
Keep Copies of All Submitted Reports
Print a copy of your Tier II report for your records.
Common Mistakes in Tier II Reporting and How to Avoid Them
Incorrectly Estimating Quantity of Reportable Substances
It’s important to look at all chemicals across your equipment, departments, and processes. You also need to aggregate extremely hazardous substances that may exist at your facility in different capacities. For example, sulfuric acid could be stored in a drum. Also, if you have lead-acid batteries, you will need to take into account the sulfuric acid housed in the lead-acid batteries (if they are not exempt).
Be sure to check the EPA list of lists to double check if chemicals stored at your facility are an extremely hazardous substance (EHS).
Failing to Keep Up-To-Date with Changes in Regulations
Failure to report can result in Federal, state, and local penalties if an incident occurs and there is no Tier II report on file.
- Submit Tier II reports on time by the March 1 deadline.
- Ensure all hazardous chemicals above reporting thresholds are included.
- Completely omitting chemicals or the full report leads to the highest fines.
- Even small errors like one chemical can still incur sizable penalties.
- Follow EPCRA and SERC closely to avoid violations and protect your business finances.
Penalties for Non-Compliance with Tier II Reporting in North Carolina
Potential Fines and Legal Consequences
Here are some potential legal and financial consequences for failing to accurately submit a Tier II report in North Carolina:
- Civil penalties – The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality can assess civil penalties up to $25,000 per violation per day for failure to submit or knowingly submitting false information.
- Criminal penalties – It is a misdemeanor to knowingly submit false information. Conviction can carry fines up to $25,000, imprisonment up to 1 year, or both.
- Citizen lawsuits – Citizens can file civil actions against facilities for failure to submit or provide accurate information. Courts can assess fines.
- Increased risk of chemical incident – Inaccurate Tier II reporting hampers emergency planning and preparedness, increasing risk of harm to first responders and communities if an accident occurs.
- Loss of economic development funding – Counties can be denied state economic development funding if Tier II non-compliance rates exceed 10% locally.
- Disqualification from state contracts – State agencies may be prohibited from entering into contracts with companies not compliant with Tier II rules.
- Litigation and liability – Facilities may face lawsuits, claims, and liability expenses in the event of a chemical release if emergency responders lack proper inventory information.
- Reputational damage – Non-compliance erodes community trust and harms the reputation of regulators and stakeholders.
Impact on Community Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Here are some examples in North Carolina that illustrate the importance of Tier II reporting for community safety and emergency response:
- In 2010, a fire occurred at a fertilizer storage facility in Wilson County. The owners had failed to file a Tier II report detailing large ammonium nitrate stores. Firefighters were exposed to toxic fumes and several were hospitalized.
- In 2020, a fertilizer plant in Rockwell had a major ammonium nitrate fire. The local fire chief stated that an accurate Tier II could have better prepared first responders and helped preplan public evacuation routes.