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Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Regulations

The following is a summary of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and its amendments, as contained in Title42, Chapter 116 of the United States Code . This information is provided as an aide to help understand the requirements of the federal statute, as they pertain to specific industrial or manufacturing operations. This information is not provided nor intended to act as a substitute for legal or other professional services. To review the full text version of the statute, please use the highlighted link.

Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) in 1986 established several regulations providing public knowledge of hazards in nearby facilities. Some portions of SARA strengthen remedial actions established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). The expanded regulations do require notification of accidental spills and releases of hazardous substances (40 CFR Part 302).

The remaining amendments form what is commonly called the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) (40 CFR Parts 350-374). EPCRA was designed to improve public awareness and accessibility to information regarding chemical hazards. EPCRA promotes the development of chemical emergency response plans for responding to chemical accidents and releases that can impact nearby communities. Since these regulations consist of the bulk of new regulations, they are outlined in more detail. Key Provisions of Subtitles of EPCRA

Subtitle A: Emergency Planning and Notification

Subtitle A establishes the requirements for emergency response planning and notification (40 CFR Part 355). Under these requirements, each state must form a state emergency response commission (SERC). Each SERC must designate emergency planning districts and appoint local emergency planning committees (LEPC). The LEPC are required to work with facilities in developing and implementing emergency response plans for any potential chemical accidents or releases in their jurisdiction. The emergency response plans shall include methods and procedures to be followed by facility personnel, impacts on local services such as hospitals and schools, notification responsibilities and training requirements for employees. Facilities subject to emergency planning are ones that manufacture, use, or store extremely hazardous substances above the threshold planning quantities

Subtitle B: Reporting Requirements

Subtitle B provides the community right-to-know reporting requirements (40 CFR Part 370). This information assists in the emergency planning for, and increases the community awareness of, the potential chemical hazards at facilities that manufacture, process, and use hazardous chemicals.

As part of Subtitle B, facilities must prepare or have available a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for hazardous chemicals on-site in quantities greater than the minimum threshold amount. MSDS must also be provided to LEPC for emergency planning purposes or to any person in the general public who may request it. In addition, facilities must supply emergency and hazardous chemical inventory forms to the LEPC and SERC.

Finally, facilities must submit annual reports of their toxic chemical releases (40 CFR Part 372). These toxic release inventory (TRI) forms track the amount of toxic chemicals released to the air, water, and land from specific facilities. TRI forms are required of manufacturing facilities with 10 or more full-time equivalent employees and which use 10,000 pounds of toxic chemicals annually or process 25,000 pounds of toxic chemicals in a year.

Subtitle C: General Provisions

Subtitle C establishes various general provisions including considerations for trade secret chemical formulations and the availability of facility information to the public.

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