Keller and Heckman LLP: EPA Proposes Amendments to Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act

Keller and Heckman LLP: EPA Proposes Amendments to Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act

Keller and Heckman

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to amend the Tier I and Tier II Inventory Forms required under section 312 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to Know Act (EPCRA), 42 U.S.C. § 11022.[1] EPCRA § 312 requires the owner or operator of a facility who is required to prepare or have available a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for a hazardous chemical under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard to report to the state emergency response commission (SERC), local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) and local fire departments of the presence of those chemicals if they exceed the reporting thresholds under 40 CFR part 370.[2] The primary purpose of the report is to prepare for unplanned chemical releases. These reports are also available to the public. In addition to the reports required under § 312, there are reporting obligations under §§ 302 and 311 of EPCRA.

The Proposed Rule

In response to the request of state and local agencies, EPA proposed to add new data elements and revise existing elements to the Tier I and Tier II reporting forms. The newly requested information includes purely administrative elements related to the identity of the facility including, for instance, the requirement that the facility's phone number, latitude and longitude, and number of full-time employees be provided. In addition, EPA proposed the additional data element of the facility identification numbers used in the Risk Management Program (Chemical Accident Prevention) under section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program under section 313 of EPCRA. Also, as many facilities are located in remote locations and do not have operators present at all times, EPA is requesting information of the facility's parent company and the owner or operator of the facility, such as name, address and phone number, and the Dun and Bradstreet number of the facility's parent company.

Additionally, the Agency proposed that -

    the name, title, phone number and e-mail address of the person responsible for completing the information on the Tier I and Tier II forms be provided so that the local emergency planning committee has a direct contact for any questions;

    the facilities indicate whether it is subject to chemical accident prevention under section 112(r) of the CAA;

    the chemical information reporting section of the Tier II inventory form be revised to make it more user-friendly for States and local agencies, as well as the emergency response officials. For instance, the Tier II form would clarify the reporting of pure chemicals vs. mixtures by having separate entries for each. Also, instead of continuing to use codes for types of storage and storage conditions, EPA proposes that facilities list the types of storage and storage conditions on the Tier II form. And lastly, EPA is proposing to narrow the reporting ranges on maximum and average daily amounts of chemicals at the facility, so that local responders have a better sense of the quantity of chemicals at the facility.

The comment period for the proposed rule closes on October 7, 2011.

For more information on EPCRA or submitting comments on the proposed rule, please contact: Komal K. Jain at 202-434-4138 or jain@khlaw.com or Peter de la Cruz at 202-434-4141 or delacruz@khlaw.com.

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[1] 76 Fed. Reg. 48,093 (Aug. 8, 2011).

[2] The current forms can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/oem/content/epcra/epcra_storage.htm#tier2.

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