How Does EPA Define a Regulated Substance?

Posted on February 14,2017 by Anthony Cardno

Words don’t always mean what we think they mean. For instance, while the term “regulated substance” is used several times throughout the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) regulations, each program in which it’s used defines the term differently. 
 
Let’s take a look at the various EPA programs that use the term “regulated substance,” what the term means in the context of each program, and the different requirements that apply in each case. 
 

Clean Air Act Risk Management Plans (RMPs)
 

Smokestacks covered under EPA's clean air actUnder the Clean Air Act (CAA), the EPA was required to promulgate regulations to create the Risk Management Plan (RMP) program. Facilities are subject to the RMP requirements at 40 CFR 68 if they have more than a threshold quantity of a “regulated substance” present in a process. The Clean Air Act RMP requirements are intended to help reduce the risks of a catastrophic release and minimize the consequence if and when an incident occurs. Questions about the Clean Air Act? See the FAQ at the bottom of this page. 
 
For the purposes of the Clean Air Act RMP program, “regulated substances” are identified in four lists, or tables, located at 40 CFR 68.130. 
 
Tables 1 and 2 comprise 77 regulated toxic substances and their threshold quantities, including, but not limited to, chemicals like acrylonitrile, chlorine, fluorine, hydrochloric acid, methyl isocyanate, phosgene, and sulfur dioxide (anhydrous). Table 1 presents these chemicals in alphabetical name order, while Table 2 repeats them in Chemical Abstract Services (CAS) number order.
 
Tables 3 and 4 comprise 63 regulated flammable substances and their threshold quantities, including, but not limited to, chemicals like acetaldehyde, butane, ethylene, hydrogen, methane, propane, trifluorochloroethylene, and vinyl chloride. Table 3 presents these chemicals in alphabetical order, while Table 4 repeats them in CAS number order.
 
Facilities subject to the RMP requirements will need to create a Risk Management Plan in compliance with 40 CFR 68. On January 13, 2017, the EPA promulgated changes to the RMP program that take effect on March 14, 2017.

Read more about Risk Management Plans:

Updating Your EPA Risk Management Plan 
 
 

Clean Air Act General Duty Clause

Clean Air Act compliance paperworkAll of the regulated substances listed in Tables 1 to 4 of 40 CFR 68.130 are also subject to the Clean Air Act’s “General Duty Clause.” [CAA §112(r)(1)] 
 
Under the General Duty Clause, facilities that have any chemical listed at 40 CFR 68.130, regardless of amount, are required to identify the hazards that may result from accidental releases of the substance, then design and maintain a safe facility to prevent releases, and take steps to minimize the consequences of releases that do occur despite preventative measures. 
 
The General Duty Clause does not include a list of regulated substances. In addition to referencing the RMP program, the General Duty Clause also references “extremely hazardous substances,” which are broadly defined as any agents that, when emitted to the ambient air, can cause death, injury, or property damage.
 

Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)

underground storage tank or USTThe EPA’s Underground Storage Tank (UST) rules at 40 CFR 280–282 also use the term “regulated substance.” In this program—which is all about the safe installation, operation, and closure of underground storage tanks—the term includes two different sets of substances.
 
The first part of the definition of “regulated substances” under the UST rules references “any substance defined in section 101(14) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980.” The list of hazardous substances subject to CERCLA regulation can be found at 40 CFR 302.4. While the table at 40 CFR 302.4 also establishes “reportable quantities” for these hazardous substances, the reportable quantities have no bearing on how the CERCLA substances are regulated under the UST rules. 
 
Underground storage tanks are “used to contain an accumulation of regulated substances,” with no set minimum amount triggering the program. It is also worth noting that the CERCLA list of hazardous substances includes all Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous wastes, which are specifically excluded from regulation under the UST rules.
 
The second part of the definition of “regulated substance” under the UST rules references “Petroleum, including crude oil or any fraction thereof that is liquid at standard conditions of temperature and pressure.” This includes, but is not limited to, “motor fuels, jet fuels, distillate fuel oils, residual fuel oils, lubricants, petroleum solvents and used oils,” as EPA notes in the definition.
 
Even within the regulations of a single Federal agency, the same term can be used in different ways, to mean different things. Understanding how the definition of a word or phrase can change from program to program is key to determining what EPA programs your facility may be subject to.
 

Convenient, Effective Online EHS Manager Training 

Managing site compliance with the many complex EPA programs that affect your business—from the Clean Air Act and CERCLA to EPCRA, the Clean Water Act, TSCA, FIFRA, and more—is a major challenge. If you’re new to the field or need an update on changing EPA rules, online training is a convenient way to build in-depth expertise. Check out the latest EPA compliance training options here: 
 

The 2017 nationwide schedule for the Complete Environmental Regulations Workshop is now available. Collaborate with other managers to identify the requirements that apply to your facility, ask the right questions, and make the right decisions about EPA compliance. 
 
 

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