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State EPCRA Variations

Posted on 8/12/2014 by Anthony R. Cardno

The United States is a big nation with citizens who experience life differently in each state. Different food, different geography, and different music are only part of what makes the US an exciting place to live and work. That said, EHS managers know that there is another important difference between states, one that can cause confusion in industry: the environmental regulations. 
 
The US EPA authorizes State agencies to adjust or add to the Federal air, water, and chemical regulations in order to better ensure compliance in their state. One environmental law that many states have “customized” is the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). 
 
Section 312 of EPCRA requires the US EPA to collect annual data from facilities that have hazardous chemicals on site above certain threshold amounts at any one time. 
 
Those thresholds, established in 40 CFR 370, are:
 
  • ≥10,000 lbs. for any “hazardous chemical” as defined in 29 CFR 1910.1200; or 
  • ≥500 lbs. or the threshold planning quantity, whichever is lower, for “extremely hazardous substances” listed in 40 CFR 355.
This data is collected via the Tier I or Tier II reports submitted to the facility’s Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), and nearest fire department on or before March 1 each year. The Federal regulation allows the reporter to choose which form to submit (the Tier I requires less detailed information than the Tier II), unless the SERC, LEPC, or fire department requires the Tier II.
 
While the US EPA gives facilities a choice of which form to submit, most states require submission of the more detailed Tier II report. This is just one example of the many variations different states use to implement EPCRA. 

Manager prepares EPCRA hazardous chemical report
 
Fees and Additional Information
 
Twenty-four states assess a fee for filing the report, the dollar amount of which varies from state to state. Some states require interim updates (Oregon and Pennsylvania among them) or allow alternative calculation methods for certain industries (Louisiana). In Oregon, the reporting deadline varies from county to county. 
 
Extra Chemicals and Lower Thresholds
 
Nevada, Oregon, Alaska, New Jersey, Missouri, and California all have expanded lists of chemicals that must be reported under EPCRA. Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, Louisiana, Vermont and California also have lower reporting thresholds for some, if not all, of the chemicals.
 
Case Study – California Business Plans 
 
California’s Business Plan program is an excellent example of a State program subsuming the Federal one. Since 1986, facilities in California have been required to comply with the Business Plan program if they handle hazardous material (including hazardous wastes, hazardous substances, etc.), including:
 
  • Liquids in amounts greater than or equal to 55 gallons; or
  • Solids in amounts greater than or equal to 500 lbs.; or
  • Compressed gases in amounts greater than or equal to 200 cubic feet; or
  • Extremely hazardous substances listed in 40 CFR 355 in amounts greater than or equal to that substance’s threshold planning quantity.
Facilities subject to the Business Plan requirements must submit information electronically to the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS), where it will be verified and evaluated by the facility’s Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA). The required information includes:
 
  • An inventory of the site’s hazardous materials;
  • A detailed site map;
  • A detailed emergency plan; and
  • A training program for employees.
The CUPA then passes this information on to the LEPCs, SERCs, local fire departments, and more.
 
Gain an understanding of the Federal Tier II reporting requirements by attending the Complete Environmental Regulations Workshop. The workshop covers the critical elements of major EPA air, water, and chemical programs. You will get up to speed on new and changing regulations, know what permits and plans your site needs, and build confidence to make the right EHS decisions for your company. 
 

Tags: EPCRA, reporting and recordkeeping, state rules

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