Continuous Release Reporting Process
There is a three-step process to report continuous releases under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
Step 1: First, an initial telephone call must be made to three separate government authorities: the National Response Center (NRC), the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), and the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). The initial telephone call alerts authorities to the intent to report a release as a continuous release, so be certain this intent is clear to those receiving the telephone call. The NRC assigns a case number to the release report when the initial telephone notification is made. This case number will become the identifier for the facility or vessel, and is called the Continuous Release-Emergency Response Notification System (CR-ERNS) number. This CR-ERNS number must be used on all future release reports or correspondence related to continuous releases from that facility or vessel.
Step 2: Within 30 days of the initial telephone notification, the person in charge must submit an initial written report to the appropriate EPA Regional Office (see Superfund Regions). The purpose of this report is to confirm the person in charge's intent to report the release as a continuous release, and to provide officials with sufficient information to enable them to determine if the release qualifies as a continuous release and to identify the potential risks. Initial telephone and written notifications of continuous releases also must be submitted to the appropriate SERC and LEPC. The initial written notification must contain information about the identity and quantity of the hazardous substances released from the source(s) at a facility.
Step 3: Within 30 days of the first anniversary date of the initial written notification, the person is charge is required to reassess all reported continuous releases of CERCLA hazardous substances and to submit a one time, written follow-up report to the appropriate EPA Regional Office (see Superfund Regions). The information required in the follow-up report is the same as that required in the initial written notification, but it should be based on release data and information gathered over the previous year starting with the submission of the initial written report. The continuous release then must be reassessed annually to determine whether information previously submitted has changed.
The EPA Regional Office (see Superfund Regions) must be notified within 30 days if there are any changes in a continuous release. If there is a change in the source or composition of a continuous release, the release is considered a "new" release and the reporting process must begin anew with a telephone call to the NRC and state and local authorities, and written reports to the appropriate EPA Region, SERC, and LEPC. A change in the source(s) or composition of a release may be caused by such factors as equipment modifications or process changes. In addition, further notification may be required if statistically significant increases in the quantity of a hazardous substance released or other changes in the release occur. A statistically significant increase, or SSI, is any release of a hazardous substance that exceeds the upper bound of the normal range. All notifications of changes in releases must include the original CR-ERNS number assigned to the facility or vessel by the NRC in the initial telephone notification.