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Superfund Reportable Quantities

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Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA; see CERCLA Overview), also known as the Superfund Law, Congress established an initial reportable quantity or RQ of one pound for Superfund hazardous substances. Congress also required EPA to issue regulations to adjust these initial RQs to more accurately reflect their potential to threaten public health and welfare and the environment. To date, EPA has established or proposed adjustments to the RQs for all of the roughly 800 Superfund substances.

For purposes of establishing reportable quantity (RQ) adjustments under CERCLA, EPA has adopted the five RQ levels of 1, 10, 100, 1,000, and 5,000 pounds originally established pursuant to Clean Water Act (CWA) section 311. The Agency adopted the CWA five-level system primarily because: (1) it had been successfully used for the CWA; (2) the regulated community was already familiar with these five levels; and (3) it provides a relatively high degree of discrimination among the potential hazards posed by different CERCLA hazardous substances. There are also seven RQ levels for radionuclides: 0.001, 0.01, 0.1, 1, 10, 100, and 1,000 Ci.

Reportable Quantities (RQs) for CERCLA Section 102(a) Hazardous Substances (PDF) (67 pp, 1.2MB)
40 CFR 302.4 (July 1, 2001)

Reportable Quantity Adjustments

RQs under CERCLA are adjusted to one of five levels: 1, 10, 100, 1,000, or 5,000 pounds. EPA bases adjustments to the RQs on the intrinsic characteristics of each hazardous substance, such as the aquatic toxicity, acute and chronic toxicity, ignitability, reactivity, and potential carcinogenicity. An RQ value is established for each of these characteristics of a hazardous substance, with the most stringent RQ value (i.e., the lowest quantity) becoming the final RQ or reporting trigger for that hazardous substance.

Statutory Reportable Quantities (RQs) are often those set provisionally by Congress (usually at one pound), pending detailed scientific analysis by EPA and adjustment through notice and comment rulemaking. They often do not reflect the relative hazard posed to public health and the environment. By adjusting the RQs, the Agency is able to focus its resources on those releases that are more likely to pose potential threats to public health or welfare or the environment, while relieving the regulated community and government emergency response personnel from the burden of making and responding to reports of releases that are less likely to pose such threats.

EPA decided to adjust the statutory RQs of CERCLA hazardous substances that are also CWA hazardous substances to make notification requirements for these substances consistent and less confusing for the regulated community. By making the CWA and CERCLA RQs the same, the Agency sought to avoid confusion regarding reporting requirements.

See Frequent Questions for more information on radionuclide reporting requirements, or Reportable Quantity Methodology to learn about how reportable quantity adjustments are determined.

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Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) Reportable Quantities

Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Congress designated 360 extremely hazardous substances that require the reporting of releases to state and local authorities. The RQs for the extremely hazardous substances are based on the substance's acute lethal toxicity.

Reportable Quantities (RQs) for EPCRA Section 302(a)(2) Extremely Hazardous Substances (PDF) (12 pp, 137K)
40 CFR 355.5 (July 1, 2001)

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Continuous Release Reporting

Section 103(a) of CERCLA "as amended" and EPA's implementing regulations (40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 302.8 (PDF) (5 pp, 74K) ) require that the person in charge of a vessel or facility immediately notify the National Response Center (NRC) whenever a reportable quantity (RQ) or more of a CERCLA hazardous substance is released in any 24 hour period, unless the release is federally permitted. The purpose of this requirement is to notify officials of potentially dangerous releases so that they can evaluate the need for a response action.

The Continuous Release Reporting Regulation provides a reduced reporting option for facilities that release hazardous substances in a manner that is continuous, and stable in quantity and rate.

To assist you with reporting continuous releases, EPA has developed Continuous Release Reporting Forms (CR-ERNS forms) for written reports.  The checklist provides an overview of the information required for the initial and first anniversary follow-up reports to assist your collection of the required information.  The forms may also be used as your Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know (EPCRA) followup reports to the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) of any state likely to be affected by the release; and the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) of any area likely to be affected by the release.   

Send your completed forms to the appropriate EPA Regional Office (see CR-ERNS Regional Contacts, below) for the geographical area where the releasing facility or vessel is located.  Your EPA Region can also provide assistance in understanding and complying with all reporting requirements.

CR-ERNS Regional Contacts (PDF) (2 pp, 20K)

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