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The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), also known as Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), requires states and local governments to establish local chemical emergency preparedness programs for their communities.
EPCRA requires the establishment of State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) and Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) which receive and disseminate to the public and local communities information from regulated entities about hazardous chemicals present at their facilities. SERCs and LEPCs are responsible for developing community plans to respond to chemical emergencies.
EPCRA also requires EPA to establish and maintain a publicly available toxic chemical release inventory (TRI) of facility-specific chemical release and waste management information. This information allows states and local communities to better understand and plan for the chemical hazards in their communities and at individual facilities.
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Federal Facility Compliance with EPCRA
Section 3(j)(i) of Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, 80 Fed. Regis. 15871 (March 25, 2015) requires federal agecies to report in accordance with the requirements of sections 301 through 313 of EPCRA.
Basics of EPCRA
Facilities Covered Under EPCRA
A federal facility (or other entity) is a “covered facility” and subject to EPCRA if it meets one or more of EPCRA’s threshold reporting requirements. These requirements include the presence of an extremely hazardous substance (EHS) as defined under EPCRA § 302; a release of an EHS or CERCLA hazardous substance defined by EPCRA § 304; the presence of certain quantities of a hazardous or toxic chemical as defined by EPCRA §§ 311-3; or facilities within certain Standard Industrial Classification codes and with 10 or more full-time employees, as defined by EPCRA § 313.
Facility Responsibilities Under EPCRA
Facilities subject to EPCRA must comply with some primary requirements for reporting, planning, pollution prevention, emergency release notification and toxic chemical release inventory reporting.
- Providing SERCs with information on extremely hazardous substances being used, produced or stored at their facilities, and other information necessary to support LEPCs in developing emergency plans for chemical accidents;
- Submitting copies of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), a list of its hazardous chemicals grouped by hazard category, or their TRI reporting form to the EPA, SERC, LEPC, and local fire department.
- Participating in the local emergency planning process as a facility emergency response coordinator.
- Developing a pollution prevention strategy for each covered facility.
- Notifying the SERC and LEPC of releases of listed EHSs and hazardous substances and providing written follow-up emergency notice to the SERC and LEPC.
Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) Reporting
- Notifying EPA and a state, or tribal authority annually about chemicals on the TRI list they manufacture, process. or otherwise use.
Federal facilities are required to comply with all provisions of EPCRA. While Section 325 of EPCRA authorizes EPA to assess civil and administrative penalties and bring judicial criminal actions against violators, federal agencies are not subject to these enforcement and penalty provisions. When EPA finds a federal facility is in violation of EPCRA, it may provide written notification to the facility of the violation and the facility must achieve compliance as soon as practicable. EPA may also develop a compliance agreement with the violating federal facility to ensure it achieves compliance.
Federal agencies are not subject to the enforcement and penalty provisions of EPCRA § 325, including the criminal enforcement provisions.
EPCRA contains no emergency authority provision.
Although under § 326 of EPCRA, states and local governments have the authority to bring civil actions against violators of EPCRA, federal agencies are not subject to EPCRA’s civil suit provisions.
EPA has designated Indian Tribes as the implementing authorities for certain provisions of EPCRA in Indian Country. Tribal governments therefore have generally the same enforcement authority as states under § 326 of EPCRA. However, federal agencies are not subject to the civil suit provisions of § 326 of EPCRA.
Under § 326 of EPCRA, citizens have the authority to file civil actions against violators of EPCRA. However, federal agencies are not subject to the civil suit provisions of § 326 of EPCRA.
EPA EPCRA Regulations
The implementing regulations for EPCRA are found in 40 CFR Parts 300.215, 355, 370, and 372. In addition, the CERCLA release reporting regulations at 40 C.F.R. Part 302 identifies CERCLA hazardous substances and their reportable quantities, referenced in the Part 355 regulations.
EPA EPCRA Policies and Guidance
There are many EPA policy documents on various aspects of EPCRA and E.O. 13423. Presented below are selected EPCRA fact sheets, regulations, and guidance documents.