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Enforcement in New England

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

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), also known as the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) Title III, is a statute designed to improve community access to information about chemical hazards and to facilitate the development of chemical emergency response plans by State and local governments. EPCRA required the establishment of State emergency response commissions (SERCs), responsible for coordinating certain emergency response activities and for appointing local emergency planning committees (LEPCs).

EPCRA and its regulations (40 CFR Parts 350-372) establish the following four types of reporting obligations for facilities which store or manage specified chemicals:

  • Emergency Planning
    The emergency planning requirements are designed to develop state and local government emergency response and preparedness capabilities through better coordination and planning, especially within the local community. Facilities subject to emergency planning requirements include those with listed extremely hazardous chemicals on-site in a quantity equal to or greater than the established threshold planning quantity (TPQ). EPCRA §302 requires facilities to notify the SERC and LEPC of the presence of any "extremely hazardous substance" (the list of such substances is in 40 CFR Part 355, Appendices A and B) if it has such substance in excess of the substance's TPQ, and directs the facility to appoint an emergency response coordinator.
  • Emergency Notification
    EPCRA §304 requires the facility to immediately notify the SERC and the LEPC in the event of an unplanned release exceeding the reportable quantity of a CERCLA hazardous substance or an EPCRA extremely hazardous substance.
  • Community Right-to-Know
    The Community Right-to-Know provisions of EPCRA are intended to increase the public's knowledge and access to information regarding the presence of hazardous chemicals in the community and releases of these chemicals into the environment. EPCRA §§311 and 312 require a facility at which a hazardous chemical, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, is present in an amount exceeding a specified threshold to submit to the SERC, LEPC, and local fire department material safety data sheets (MSDSs) or lists of MSDSs and hazardous chemical inventory forms (also known as Tier I and II forms). This information helps the local government respond in the event of a spill or release of the chemical.
  • Toxic Chemical Release Reporting
    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. 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.

All information submitted pursuant to EPCRA regulations is publicly accessible, unless protected by a trade secret claim.

For more information regarding EPCRA, you can contact EPA Headquarters' EPCRA Hotline at (800) 424-9346. The EPCRA Hotline 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., EST, excluding Federal holidays.

If you have specific questions about EPCRA and would like to speak to an EPA-New England EPCRA team member, please contact Dwight Peavey at 617-918-1829.

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