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Toxic Chemical Reporting: EPCRA Sections 311 and 312

EPCRA Section 311
EPCRA Section 312

Chemical Reporting (EPCRA Section 311)
OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires facilities to procure or prepare material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for the hazardous chemicals found at the facility 29 CFR Section 1910.1200. The MSDS contains important health and safety information. Any facility that is required by OSHA to prepare or have available an MSDS for a hazardous chemical is subject to EPCRA Sections 311 and 312 if the chemical is present on site at any one time in excess of threshold levels. There is no list of hazardous chemicals subject to reporting. The key to determining whether or not a chemical is considered hazardous is if it meets OSHA's definition of a hazardous chemical in 29 CFR 1910.1200(c).

Section 311 require facilities that must prepare (or acquire) material safety data sheets (MSDS) under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations to submit either copies of their MSDSs or a list of MSDSs chemicals to their:

  • Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)
  • State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), and
  • Local fire department with jurisdiction over the facility
There is no required form for this one-time submission under Section 311.

If the facility owner or operator chooses to submit a list of MSDS chemicals, the list must include the chemical or common name of each substance and must identify the applicable hazard categories. These hazard categories are:

  • Immediate (acute) health hazard
  • Delayed (chronic) health hazard
  • Fire hazard
  • Sudden release of pressure hazard
  • Reactive hazard
If a list is submitted, the facility must submit a copy of the MSDSs for any chemical on the list upon the request of the LEPC or SERC. Also EPA has established threshold quantities for hazardous chemicals below which no facility must report. The current thresholds for Section 311 are:
  • For extremely hazardous substances: 500 pounds or the threshold planning quantity, whichever is lower.
  • For all other hazardous chemicals: 10,000 pounds
The initial submission of the MSDSs or a list of MSDSs chemicals was due on October 17, 1987. Facilities newly covered by the OSHA regulations must submit MSDSs or a list of MSDSs chemicals within three months after they become covered.

A MSDS or a revised list must be provided when new hazardous chemicals become present at a facility in quantities at or above the established threshold levels after the deadline. A revised MSDS must be provided to update the original MSDS if significant new information is discovered about the hazardous chemical.

Chemical Reporting (EPCRA Section 312)
EPCRA Section 312 requires submission of an annual report providing information on hazardous chemicals on-site to the SERC, LEPC, and local fire department. This report is due every March 1 and covers the previous calendar year. EPA created two types of inventory forms for facilities to use to fulfill this requirement:

  • Tier I-- requires facilities to report general information on the amount and location of hazardous chemicals.
  • Tier II-- requires more detailed information on each hazardous chemical.
Facilities use the Tier II form to report chemical-specific information -- the name, chemical abstract service number (CAS), physical and health hazards, inventory amounts, and storage conditions and locations (40 CFR Section 370.25). Facilities may submit a Tier II in lieu of a Tier I.

While federal regulations only require the submission of a Tier I form, EPA encourages, and some states require, the use of the Tier II form. States may also have lower thresholds that trigger Tier reporting. States may impose fees for processing Tier forms or even have their own forms that facilities must use to fulfil Section 312 requirements. Information Specialists should always refer callers to the appropriate SERC to determine which form the state requires.

EPA distributes an electronic version of the Tier II form in both Windows and DOS formats. Not all states have the capabilities to receive Tier II information electronically. As such, you should check with their state EPCRA Sections 311/312 contact for individual state information.

The specific threshold quantities established by EPA for Section 312 for hazardous chemicals, below which no facility must report, are:

  • extremely hazardous substances: 500 pounds or the threshold planning quantity, which is lower.
  • all other hazardous chemicals: 10,000 pounds.
The information submitted by facilities under Sections 311 and 312 must be made available to the public by LEPCs and SERCs during normal working hours.

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