Regulatory Puzzle


EPCRA, the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, requires notification and reporting of hazardous substances.  EPCRA is also known as "SARA Title III" (from the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act).  EPCRA is administered by the EPA.

There are five key EPCRA requirements to plan for – all related to some form of reporting:

  1. Emergency planning notification
  2. Emergency release notification
  3. Community Right-to-Know reporting
  4. TRI reporting
  5. Notification to customers

1. Emergency planning notification

Law: EPCRA Sections 301-305
Regulation: 40 CFR 355.30

To help in proactive emergency planning, EPCRA requires you to identify whether you have certain extremely hazardous substances above threshold planning quantities (TPQs). The substances and threshold quantities are listed in Appendix A and B of 40 CFR 355. If so, you must notify the state and local emergency planning agencies, and provide additional information to these agencies as needed to assist in developing emergency response plans.  (These agencies are referred to in EPCRA as the state emergency response commission (SERC) and the local emergency planning committee (LEPC).)

2. Emergency release notification

Law: EPCRA Sections 311-313
Regulation: 40 CFR 355.40, also 40 CFR 302.8 for continuous release

This requirement is designed to support actual community emergency response. If there is a release of certain listed substances and that release results in exposure to persons off your site, you must immediately notify the state and local emergency planning agencies (SERC, LEPC, and fire department). The relevant substances are either the extremely hazardous substances from Appendixes A and B, or substances off the CERCLA list. (40 CFR 302)

There are some additional requirements if the release is of a continuous nature (either on or off site), including notifying the  National Response Center (1-800-424-8802) and providing written notice and follow-up.

3. Community Right-to-Know

Law: EPCA Section 311, 312
Regs: 40 CFR 370

Congress determined that communities have a similar interest in knowing about hazardous substances as do workers. Accordingly, these sections of the law require facilities to provide much the same information to the community as is required by the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. Therefore, any MSDSs you are required to maintain on site under the OSHA standard must be submitted to the state and local emergency planning agencies and the local fire department. In addition, you must submit annually a special hazardous chemical inventory form, know as Tier I or Tier II (Tier II is a more detailed version).

4. TRI Reporting

Law: EPCRA Sections 313
Regs: 40 CFR 372, with chemical list at 40 CFR 372.65(a)

The TRI report (also known as "EPA Form R") is probably the most well-known reporting requirement under EPCRA. TRI, or the Toxic Release Inventory, is an annual report to EPA and the state on all releases to the environment of certain listed chemicals from a facility – both routine and accidental. TRI includes releases that are permitted under laws such as the Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act; transfers to off-site facilities such as hazardous waste disposal sites or recyclers; and accidental releases. TRI reporting is triggered under the following circumstances: 1) your facility is in the SIC Codes 20-39, or is SIC 5169 (therefore including all chemical and allied product facilities); 2) you have 10 or more full time employees; and 3) you manufacture, import, process or otherwise use more than a threshold level of any listed chemical.

5. Notification to customers

Law: EPCRA Section 313
Regs: 40 CFR 372.45

If your products contain chemicals on the TRI list, you have a duty to notify your customers of the percentage by weight of the listed chemicals. You must also notify your customers whenever you make changes in your product that affect the amount of TRI chemicals, or in case chemicals in your products become newly added to the TRI list by EPA.


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