Key Federal Laws

Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA)

(as amended)

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was enacted by Congress as Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986. EPCRA is intended to improve local community access to information about chemical hazards and to improve state and local emergency response capabilities.  State right-to-know acts also require reporting of various kinds of chemical hazard information.

EPCRA has three main objectives:
  • To bolster local emergency planning efforts
  • To improve emergency notification in the event of a release of hazardous chemicals
  • To develop a baseline on routine chemical releases into the environment
To meet these objectives, EPCRA created four types of reporting obligations for facilities that store or manage specified listed chemicals. In 1994, over 300 more chemicals were added to the list of chemicals for which reporting is required.  All information submitted pursuant to EPCRA regulations is publicly accessible, unless protected by a trade secret claim.

Notification of extremely hazardous substances

EPCRA 302 requires facilities to notify the state emergency response commission (SERC) and the local emergency planning committee (LEPC) of the presence of any "extremely hazardous substance" if it has the substance in excess of the specified "threshold planning quantity". The list of such substances is in 40 CFR Part 355, Appendices A and B. It also directs the facility to appoint an emergency response coordinator.

Notification during releases

EPCRA 304 requires facilities to notify the SERC and the LEPC in the event of a release exceeding the "reportable quantity" of a CERCLA hazardous substance or an EPCRA extremely hazardous substance. EPCRA extremely hazardous substances and reportable quantities are listed in 40 CFR 355.

Emergency planning

EPCRA 311 and 312 require facilities to notify SERC, LEPC, and the local fire department of all hazardous chemicals for which the Occupational Health and Safety Administration requires material safety data sheets (MSDSs). The facility must submit either the MSDSs or a list of the substances for which MSDSs are maintained. If a list is submitted, hazardous chemical inventory forms (also known as Tier I and II forms) must also be submitted. A "Tier I" form provides information about hazardous chemicals grouped by hazard category. A "Tier II" form provides information about each specific hazardous chemical. This information helps the local government respond in the event of a spill or release of the chemical. These requirements are found at 40 CFR 370, Hazardous Chemical Reporting: Community Right-to-Know.

Toxic Release Inventory

EPCRA 313 requires manufacturing facilities included in SIC codes 20 through 39, which have ten or more employees, and which manufacture, process, or use specified chemicals in amounts greater than threshold quantities, to submit an annual toxic chemical release report to EPA. This report, commonly known as the Form R, covers releases and transfers of toxic chemicals to various facilities and environmental media, and allows EPA to compile the national Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) database. These requirements can be found at 40 CFR 372, Toxic Chemical Release Reporting: Community Right-to-Know.

EPA’s EPCRA Hotline, at (800) 535-0202, answers questions and distributes guidance regarding the emergency planning and community right-to-know regulations. The EPCRA Hotline operates weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET, excluding Federal holidays.

Program office links:
EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics
EPA's Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office
EPA TRI information
Occupational Health and Safety Administration

40 CFR 355-372 Emergency Planning


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