In October 1986, the U.S. Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), a federal law spurred by a series of accidental chemical releases in other areas of the globe. The worst incident happened in December 1984 at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, where the release of deadly methyl isocyanate gas killed an estimated 16,000 people and injured thousands more. Within a 5-year period before and after the Bhopal disaster, roughly 7,000 chemical accidents also occurred in the United States. Under the EHS umbrella, Congress passed EPCRA to reduce the likelihood of further disasters involving hazardous and toxic chemicals in the U.S.
Where does all this Tier II and compliance expertise come from?
The Tier II Guide’s author is Megan Walters, Encamp’s Director of Compliance. She’s a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), a Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer® (CESCO) and an EHSMS Internal Auditor. Some of Encamp’s other senior compliance experts also pitched in. Between Encamp and their past lives as EHS consultants, they’ve collectively submitted hundreds of Tier II filings — and have made Encamp the largest third-party filer of Tier II reports in the country.
We realize not every EHS professional is a Tier II reporting authority. That’s why the Tier II Guide covers the who, what, why, when and how of environmental compliance and reporting in a way that’s straightforward and helpful. You know, practical.
1. For environmental compliance on the federal level, if quantities of hazardous chemicals meet either of these thresholds, you must submit a Tier II report:10,000 pounds of any substance for which a safety data sheet (SDS) is required
500 pounds or the Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ) of any Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS), whichever is less
2. One of the most common Tier II reporting mistakes is incorrectly designating EHSs or failing to designate a chemical as an EHS.
3. For Tier II reporting by state, the most common issue is determining what each state requires. Some have chemical quantity thresholds that differ from the federal level. Many states require additional info on the chemicals being reported. Others require additional information on the facility, Encamp is “50-state aware” and understands these various state requirements.
The ins and outs of Tier II reporting and environmental compliance are many. “How, exactly, does all of this apply to my facility and the chemicals we use and store?” The Tier II Guide is a helpful resource to help you navigate regulations and reporting. And it’s free. Put it to use to submit Tier II reports with confidence.
EPCRA, in full, is the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The United States Congress passed EPCRA and its various EPCRA Sections as a federal law in October 1986. The law was a response to multiple accidental chemical releases that had recently occurred worldwide.
One of the most tragic incidents was the release of methyl isocyanate in Bhopal, India. The release, which occurred in December 1984, killed 3,800 people. Others in the immediate and surrounding areas suffered serious illnesses. In response, Congress passed EPCRA to prevent a similar disaster in the United States.
EPCRA entails four core responsibilities for chemical use and storage, classified by Sections. These EPCRA Sections apply to all regulated facilities within a local jurisdiction.
EPCRA Tier II is housed under EPCRA Section 312. For regulated facilities, EPCRA Section 312 Tier II requirements dictate that they 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. Inventories are submitted to the facility’s State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and the local fire department.
The details of EPCRA Tier II reporting can get murky. And often confusing. Encamp’s VP of Compliance and Customer Success breaks down the key aspects EPCRA Tier II reporting requirements here to help your business comply with total confidence.
On the federal level, any regulated facility in the U.S. that stores or handles more than 10,000 pounds of hazardous chemicals must submit an annual Tier II inventory report. Facilities storing or handling an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS) of 500 pounds or its Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ, whichever is lower) are also required to submit the annual Tier II inventory.
As defined by the EPA, hazardous chemicals are “substances for which a facility must maintain a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard.” This standard establishes the criteria used to identify a hazardous chemical. OSHA defines a hazardous chemical as any chemical that can “cause a physical or health hazard.” Common chemicals that many facilities store on-site, such as antifreeze, ethanol, diesel fuel, and propane, are subject to this reporting.
While EHSs have a general threshold of 500 pounds, thresholds can be lower for specific substances dependent on the TPQ published for the chemical. TPQs are based on “acute mammalian toxicity and potential for airborne dispersion and represent those quantities of substances that can cause significant harm should an accidental release occur.” See the list of EHSs and their corresponding TPQs in Appendix A of the EPA’s List of Lists. There are many common chemicals considered to be EHSs that might surprise you. Examples include anhydrous ammonia, sulfuric acid, formaldehyde, and hydrogen peroxide (if the concentration is over 52%).
Retail gas and diesel stations share a common EHS threshold exemption. Higher thresholds apply for retail gas and diesel stations if their fuel storage tanks are located entirely underground, and if the tanks are in compliance with all applicable underground storage tank (UST) requirements set by the federal, state, and local government. For a retail gas station, the threshold for gasoline is 75,000 gallons and the threshold for diesel is 100,000 gallons. (Read more on exemptions and relaxed thresholds in our associated blog on Hazardous Chemical Inventories.)
Based on the EPCRA Tier II reporting requirements we’ve detailed thus far, you’ve determined that your facility is required to report under EPCRA. So what’s the next step?
Under Section 311 of EPCRA, for hazardous chemicals stored onsite at or above the thresholds, facilities must submit SDSs to their State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs), and local fire department. Unless your state or local government determines otherwise, submitting an SDS for a hazardous chemical is required just once; thereafter, SDSs are required only for new chemicals stored or handled at a facility.
On an annual basis, regulated facilities are required to submit an inventory of the chemicals that meet the definition of a hazardous chemical and exceed the defined reporting threshold. By law, EPCRA Tier II forms are due on March 1 each year.
Of note, while the EPA has published a generic EPCRA Tier II form to submit inventory reports, each state in the U.S. has developed its own version of the form. Some states naturally require state-specific requirements on their Tier II form. They also require the information to be submitted online through the state’s own portal or via email. Otherwise, the EPA and state agencies request the same core information for EPCRA Tier II reporting, including facility information (address, NAICS code, number of occupants, etc.) and contact information (emergency contact, owner/operator contact, and Tier II contact).
In addition to general facility information, Tier II forms also sometimes request other facility specific questions. For example, if your facility is subject to the Risk Management Program (RMP) through the EPA, you’ll need to indicate that and provide your facility’s RMP ID#.
The chemical inventory section of an EPCRA Tier II form is much more detailed. To ensure compliance, you must provide the following information on the hazardous chemicals you’re reporting:
Several states request more information beyond these requirements. For example, Maine requires the mode of shipment for a hazardous chemical, the frequency of shipment, maximum capacity per single vessel, average shipment quantity, and other shipping criteria. In another example, Ohio requests the total number of EHS and hazardous chemicals to be included in its EPCRA Tier II report.
Along with the chemical inventory information, some states additionally require you to submit facility site plans. Such plans show where chemicals are stored in the facility, and where emergency exits, fire extinguishers, and nearest water source are located. Site plans are crucial for first responders who need to know these details before they enter a facility in an emergency situation. Check with your state to see if a facility plan is required as part of your EPCRA Tier II submission, what needs to be on the plan, and the file format it should be in.
Once required Tier II reporting information and documents are uploaded to a state’s reporting portal, several states require facilities to pay a filing fee per report. Fee amounts vary based on a state’s criteria. For instance, states including Louisiana, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania bill your facility per each chemical being reported. Other states, like New Jersey, bill the facility by the number of employees. Many state portals accept payment of the fees directly, whereas other states send your facility a bill and require you to pay by check or credit card. Depending on your state, the LEPCs may charge fees as well.
When is all of this information and documentation due? Again, the annual Tier II report is due March 1, which is the deadline set federally. All 50 states follow this deadline except for specific jurisdictions in California. California is divided into Certified Unified Program Agencies, or CUPAs for short. Some CUPAs require this information to be submitted at different times during the year. Also in New Jersey, public and private entities have different due dates. For the most part, states require the information before March 1. If your information is submitted late or not submitted at all, you could be subject to enforcement actions or fines.
Raise your hand if you enjoy dealing with 50 different state portals every Tier II season.
We didn’t think so, because not many people in Tier II reporting roles do. Which is why we say welcome to Encamp’s newest version of our Tier II Dashboard.While our platform has always made reporting intuitive and efficient, it now makes the process even faster, simpler, and more accurate. Call this enhanced dashboard Tier II reporting on steroids. And then turn your imagination loose.
First, for reporting and status tracking, envision logging into one environment that takes the place of all the different systems from all 50 states. That’s benefit #1. Across your organization, every person involved in Tier II reporting accesses the same dashboard and uses the same reporting and tracking tools. Benefit #2.
At the executive level, leaders get a full oversight view of every activity: Reporting percentage until completion, the number of days to deadline, facilities that have already filed, and ones that still need to start the process. Encamp then completes all submissions and pays the fees on your company’s behalf, including for SERCs, LEPCs, and even fire departments. Big benefit.
For every facility in your company, our Tier II platform lets you sync with portals in every state. Then more simplicity takes over.
In a streamlined and consistent manner, you complete every Tier II reporting detail. After that, Encamp completes your submissions to every regulatory agency for you, again on your company’s behalf. It’s your company’s Tier II program at its finest — with countless benefits to eliminate headaches.
We’ve even made sure our Tier II platform puts a built-in knowledge base at your fingertips. It answers questions about everything reporting, Tier II requirements, includes training videos, and offers helpful tips & tricks.
Tier II reporting that’s fast, simple, accurate. At Encamp, our goal has always been to make your life easy for the Tier II season. Our enhanced Tier II Dashboard now makes it that much easier.
We call it Better for You, Better for Nature. PR campaign? Nah. Encamp is just doing its part to help replenish the environment by planting trees.
And while it’s only one tree at a time, our count is already closing in on 3,300 new saplings. (Most likely more after this is posted. See the counter at the end of our Home page.)
Here’s how it works, and why we’re doing it.
The gist is, for every Tier II report that gets filed through our system for EHS compliance, Encamp makes a donation to have a tree planted somewhere in the 50 states. So first, thank you to every one of our customers who file a Tier II report from those states. Please keep them coming.
The next big thanks go to our friends at One Tree Planted, who do all the critical work. They grow new saplings, plant them, maintain them, and then tell how these new trees are benefitting our planet.
Quick fact from One Tree’s site: Trees help clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and provide habitat to over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. They also absorb harmful carbon from the atmosphere and are key ingredients in 25% of all medicines. Trees even provide jobs to more than 1.6 billion people around the world.
About One Tree Planted itself, they’re an environmental charity “dedicated to making it easier for individuals and businesses to give back to the environment.” Their mission is to let companies like Encamp help create a healthier climate, protect biodiversity, and aid reforestation efforts around the world. “All by planting trees!”
“We’ve been committed to aligning our business goals with environmental goals at Encamp from the very beginning,” said Luke Jacobs, Encamp’s co-founder and CEO. “Even before we had paying customers, we were committed to the idea of planting a tree for every Tier II report we file.”
This allows Encamp to cut down on paper costs, Jacobs explained, both by digitizing paper-based processes for its customers and by going the extra mile to get more trees planted across the country.
“Our mission at Encamp aligns well with the goals of One Tree Planted, and we’re excited to keep striving towards a world where good for business can equal good for the environment.
One Tree Planted started in 2014 and planted 150,000 trees its first full year. In 2019, they were able to get 4 million more trees in the ground worldwide.
One tree at a time, we’re proud to be contributing to that number.
SERCs and LEPCs are changing or updating their Tier II reporting requirements usually on an annual basis. The federal EPCRA program moves at a much slower pace. There have been some updates in the past few years that are worth highlighting.
Reporting your facility’s chemicals for Tier II can be a confusing task. Depending on your inventory, you may have difficulty with mixtures, lead acid batteries, or understanding your state requirements and using their portal. To help with your Tier II reporting efforts, we tackle each one of these here.
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding mixtures and how to report them in a Tier II scenario. Do you report each chemical separately within the mixture? Or should you report the mixture as its own chemical? EPA guidance recommends two methods:
The following examples are from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ):
In the example here, the mixture X-Chem weighs 20,000 lbs. and contains 20% of the hazardous chemical “Chemical A”, which is listed as an EHS, and 80% water:
According to EPA Guidance for Tier II, whichever way is chosen to report mixtures, the manner must be consistent between Section 311 Reporting and Section 312 Reporting.
The batteries in powered industrial trucks, such as forklifts and man lifts, contain lead and sulfuric acid. According to OSHA, they are a hazardous chemical because of the “potential to emit hydrogen gas which, upon ignition, may result in a fire or explosion.” The batteries do not fall under the article exemption either because they “have the potential to leak, spill, or break during normal conditions of use, including foreseeable emergencies,” according to the EPA’s memorandum on reporting these batteries. Because of this, it’s important for Tier II purposes to review how many batteries your facility stores and uses to determine if they exceed the threshold.
In the eyes of the EPA, lead-acid batteries are considered a mixture of sulfuric acid and lead. If you take a look at the safety data sheet (SDS) for a lead-acid battery, it generally contains between 40-75% lead (or lead compounds) and 20-45% sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is listed as an EHS chemical with a TPQ of 1,000 pounds. Therefore, the threshold would default to the 500 pounds threshold because it is an EHS. Lead-acid batteries can weigh anywhere from 39 pounds to upwards of 4,000 pounds. Because of the 500 pound threshold for sulfuric acid, facilities with even just one battery may be required to report. If your facility has several smaller batteries onsite, the amount of sulfuric acid in each battery needs to be aggregated with all sulfuric acid on-site to determine if that threshold has been met or exceeded.
For Tier II reporting, once you’ve determined whether the threshold for sulfuric acid has been reached, you may report the battery as a mixture or you can report the sulfuric acid separately as an EHS. However, the regulations state that “reporting a mixture, such as the batteries, under both sections 311 and 312 must occur in the same manner, where practicable.” Most battery manufacturers publish SDSs for their batteries as a mixture, rather than the individual components. However, if you’re replenishing the electrolyte or manufacturing batteries, then it may make sense to report as individual components. Some states have released guidance on reporting lead acid batteries, so double check with your facility’s state program prior to reporting these.
Many oil and gas companies and manufacturers have several types of oils and oil-based products on-site. There is a lot of confusion out there, on whether these need to be aggregated across the facility or not. The EPA has published guidance on this, which states that there are two ways to determine if aggregation of hazardous chemicals makes sense.
First, it’s recommended to review your products in question and review their SDSs. A facility can have two or more SDSs for chemicals onsite. For example, a facility can receive multiple SDSs for essentially the same material, but its provided by different suppliers. If the mixtures are represented by SDSs that are identical in composition and physical and health hazards, these mixtures can most likely be aggregated to determine if they exceed the threshold. If however, “two or more chemical combinations are represented by different SDSs and present different physical or health hazards, they would not be aggregated for §§311/312 purposes.”
The determination to aggregate similar hazardous chemicals is generally left up to the owner and operator (or their authorized representative) to make that call.
For EHSs, EPA has stated that these chemicals must be aggregated across mixtures and pure chemicals. For an example, if your facility has several lead acid batteries on-site, the sulfuric acid in each of those must be aggregated to determine if you have more than 500 pounds. If you also have pure sulfuric acid that’s used in a separate process, you will have to account for that when aggregating. If an EHS is present in a mixture over 1%, it must be accounted for in your calculations for the total EHS present on-site, regardless of what container the chemical is in. This may require you to examine reaction vessels, piping, and other process components.
Another common issue with Tier II reporting is determining what your state requires for reporting and how the state wants to receive that information. States like California, Louisiana, and New Jersey have thresholds that differ from the federal thresholds. Many states require additional information on the chemicals and the facilities that report. Contact your State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) or visit their website to find out their specific requirements.
On top of the varying thresholds and specific state requirements, there are several ways that the chemical inventory can be submitted to your state. Check out the below map to see what ways your state(s) require this information to be submitted. Many states require you to complete the report through Tier2 Submit. Tier2 Submit is software that EPA developed to help eliminate the paper reporting burden. The software must be downloaded each year onto your computer in order to use it. The software is normally updated in November of the year prior. Tier2 Submit doesn’t actually submit the information to your facility’s SERC, LEPC, or Fire Department though, despite its name. Most SERCs require you to download the information from Tier2 Submit and submit the file through email, their own portal, or even on a CD/SD and mail it to the SERC.
Other states have opted to use a full reporting and submittal platform like Tier II Manager. Several states like Indiana, Delaware, Oregon, and Nevada have all adopted Tier II Manager as their portal for Tier II reporting. Another portal that some states have adopted is E-plan. E-plan was developed by the University of Texas-Dallas. Other than Tier2 submit, Tier II Manager, and E-Plan, some states have created their own portal for submitting the report like California, Texas, Missouri, and Louisiana. Each portal has its pros and cons, but digitizing this information has proven to be very beneficial to the regulated community, emergency responders, and state and local officials.
In addition to some of the ambiguities surrounding Tier II mentioned above, there are some common reporting errors that SERCs have identified.
First, Encamp’s modern software platform for environmental compliance lets you align business and environmental incentives across your organization. You equip all members of your team with a single, end-to-end compliance management solution instead of relying on multiple consultants. Then, with our platform’s EPCRA module, you simplify Section 312 compliance and Tier II reporting by making data more visible and automating the report preparation process.
With the Encamp platform doing the work consultants do, you bring Tier II reporting in house and make it faster, easier and more accurate.
Imagine, an EPCRA solution designed to make Tier II reporting easy and efficient, and to put you in control. In house, Encamp’s integrated platform eliminates data silos and non-standardized processes throughout your organization. It also gives your company a single pane of glass to manage each facet of Tier II reporting — threshold checks, data reviews, and monitoring every task and its progress.
Better, you’re no longer on a consultant’s schedule. You’re able to manage EPCRA compliance year round and say farewell to annual fire drills for 312 reporting or missed 302 notifications.
These capabilities alone make bringing Tier II reporting in house a sound decision. But here a few more details that make the move a no-brainer — things not all consultants and EHS software or point systems can do.
(Quick disclosure. Encamp’s Partner Ecosystem equips consulting firms with our platform for their Tier II reporting services. So if you still need consulting help, look to one of Encamp’s partners and you’ll get the same effective reporting outcomes.)
Forget navigating through upwards of 50 different state systems to submit Tier II reports. The Encamp platform lets environmental compliance teams orchestrate reporting using a single dashboard. Encamp then makes your submissions for you. Every person involved in the Tier II process uses the same dashboard and its reporting and tracking tools.
For each facility you have to report on, the Encamp platform and dashboard sync with state portals to:
With the Tier II dashboard, program managers, directors, EHS specialists, and corporate leaders all view every activity by facility: Reporting task percentage until completion; Number of days to deadline; Facilities that have already filed reports and ones that still need to start the process.
The dashboard further includes a built-in knowledgebase and videos to answer questions, verify details for Tier II requirements, and provide Tier II tips & tricks. And no matter the user level, its intuitive interface speeds user adoption and keeps training to a minimum.
For workflow, get state fields from the EPA, NOAA, and all 50 states before fields are made available in public state portals. The intuitive Tier II dashboard makes any workflow easy for all users to understand, including alerts and reminders for assigned tasks in each facility.
For calculations, confirm all threshold planning quantities (TPQs) for a state level, including extremely hazardous substances (EHSs). Encamp automatically selects if you’re under a reporting threshold for a given chemical or even an entire facility.
Automatically store the final Tier II report copy, records of payment, and an audit log for each facility in Encamp’s digital filing cabinet. Your filing cabinet organizes documents by default, so everything is captured. This keeps your reporting records in house and under your control, rather than “on file” with a consulting firm.
Along with submitting Tier II reports accurately and on time, here are more benefits of moving the Tier II reporting process in house with Encamp.
We’re with you every step of the way
No matter your Tier II reporting volume, we’re with you from onboarding through ongoing support. Start with an account review by our environmental compliance experts. After that, have a 30-minute onboarding call to get you started. Our team also works with yours to import your data into Encamp.
Also get going in days and realize time to value quickly. Encamp deploys via the cloud, meaning there’s no software or hardware to install or months-long implementation.
Arrange a demo and interactive walkthrough to see the Encamp platform and our EPCRA module in action.
First a reminder for your EHS compliance calendar. The due date for Tier II reporting is March 1, 2021. Now, ask your team and everyone else who’s contributing to your Tier II efforts, “Are we on track?”
If you’re on schedule, our compliments. If you aren’t, Encamp is here to help. At this point, hitting the Tier II reporting deadline for 2021 might require better efficiency in your preparations. Ensuring EHS compliance could also require a sharper focus on details. Come March 1, your Tier II reports must be completed and submitted accurately, as well as on time.
Tier II reporting resources and best practices
Here are some resources we’ve prepared Tier II reporting, plus a few best practices to help ease the process. Our reporting cred? For one, Encamp is the largest third-party filer of EPCRA Tier II reports in the U.S. For another, most of us at Encamp come from EHS backgrounds and have filed thousands of Tier II reports.
So trust us when we say good luck. We’re pulling for you to hit the Tier II due date.
From Encamp’s Tier II Guide ‒ A Practical Guide for Tier II Reporting. This guide includes details on who must report and how to comply. It also addresses common problems with things like mixtures and state reporting requirements. Other sections cover common reporting errors and the latest updates to state and federal requirements.
The Guide’s final section additionally offers these Tier II reporting tips.
Other helpful tools from the Encamp Resource Center
EPCRA Applicability Flowchart. Track Tier II applicability all the way to the county and city level.
Tier II Insight: Hazardous Chemical Inventories (blog). Learn how to inventory hazardous chemicals the “right way.”
10 Helpful Resources for Tier II Reporting and Compliance (blog). Access the EPA’s most helpful web pages and tools for Tier reporting, plus industry websites that focus on EHS compliance.
Encamp Product Focus: Making Tier II Submissions Easier (blog). Read how Encamp’s EHS software helps you better understand Tier II requirements, from the perspective of some of our customers.
Encamp’s Tier II Dashboard. Making Reporting Fast, Simple, Accurate (blog & video). Read about and watch how Encamp’s Tier II Dashboard streamlines Tier II reporting and keeps the process in full view.
Lead Acid Battery ebook. A detailed interactive guide on the ins and outs of lead-acid batteries, including when they’re subject to Tier II reporting.
Beyond EHS software
EHS compliance software like the cloud-based platform from Encamp certainly accelerates the Tier II reporting process. But so does your EHS team and how they function as a group — particularly if you’re all still working remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Remote or not, here are a few more useful practices to help you meet this year’s Tier II reporting deadline. Remember, it’s March 1.