What is EPCRA?
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), authorized by Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA Tittle III), was passed in 1986 in response to concerns regarding the environmental and safety hazards posed by the storage and handling of toxic chemicals. These concerns were triggered by the 1984 disaster in Bhopal, India, caused by an accidental release of methylisocyanate. The release killed or severely injured more than 2000 people.
To reduce the likelihood of such a disaster in the United States, Congress imposed requirements for federal, state, and local governments, tribes, and industry. These requirements covered emergency planning and "Community Right-to-Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. The Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public's knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities, working with facilities, can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
Section 2018 of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA), enacted on October 23, 2018, amended the emergency release notification and the hazardous chemical inventory reporting requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). This new legislation requires state and tribal emergency response commissions to notify the applicable State agency (i.e., the drinking water primacy agency) of any reportable releases and provide community water systems with hazardous chemical inventory data. These requirements went into effect immediately upon signing the law.
- Summary of EPCRA
- EPRCA Regulations and Regulatory Amendments
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Sections 301 to 303. Emergency Planning (40 CFR 355 Subpart B) - Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) are required to prepare chemical emergency response plans and to review plans at least annually. State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) are required to oversee and coordinate local planning efforts. Facilities that maintain Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) on-site in quantities greater than corresponding threshold planning quantities (TPQs) must cooperate in emergency plan preparation. The list of EHSs and their TPQs are in 40 CFR 355 Appendices A & B.
Section 304. Emergency Notification (40 CFR 355 Subpart C) - Facilities must immediately report accidental releases of EPRCA EHSs a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) hazardous substances. Any releases of these substances in quantities greater than their corresponding Reportable Quantities (RQs) must be reported to state and local officials. See also Continuous Release Reporting.
Sections 311 and 312. Community Right-to-Know Requirements (40 CFR Part 370) - Facilities handling or storing any hazardous chemicals must submit Safety Data Sheets (SDS) [formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)] to their state or tribal Emergency Response Commission (SERC or TERC), local or tribal Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC or TEPC), and local fire department. Hazardous chemicals are defined under the Occupational Safety and Health Act and its implementing regulations. SDSs describe the properties and health effects of these chemicals. Facilities must also submit an inventory form for these chemicals to the SERC or TERC, LEPC of TEPC, and local fire departments.
Section 313. Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) (40 CFR Part 372) - Facilities must complete and submit a toxic chemical release inventory form (Form R) annually. Form R must be submitted for each of the over 600 TRI chemicals that are manufactured or otherwise used above the applicable threshold quantities.
(40 CFR Part 350) -