Sunday, August 14, 2011

New EPCRA Tier I & Tier II Reporting Forms Proposed

US EPA has proposed a significant revision to the forms and types of information required to be submitted under EPCRA Tier I and Tier II. Title III of SARA (EPCRA) established authorities for emergency planning and preparedness, emergency release notification reporting, community right to-know reporting, and toxic chemical release reporting. It is intended to encourage State and local planning and preparedness for releases of extremely hazardous substances (EHSs) and to provide the public, local governments, fire departments and other emergency officials with information concerning chemical releases and the potential chemical risks in their communities.

As background, under the emergency planning provisions of EPCRA (40 CFR part 355), a facility is required to provide a one-time notification to the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and the local emergency planning committee (LEPC) if the facility has any EHS present at the site in excess of its threshold planning quantity (TPQ). Reporting requirements under the community right-to-know provisions, sections 311 and 312 of EPCRA are ongoing obligations. Sections 311 and 312 of EPCRA apply to owners and operators of facilities that are required to prepare or have available a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for a hazardous chemical defined under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). If the hazardous chemical is present at or above the reporting thresholds, the facility owner or operator is required to submit a MSDS to the SERC and LEPC. Under section 312 of EPCRA, if a hazardous chemical is present at or above the reporting threshold, the facility owner or operator is required to submit an emergency and hazardous chemical inventory form (Tier I or Tier II) to the SERC, LEPC and the local fire department annually by March 1.

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The Tier I and Tier II forms were first published in 1987 and were amended in
1990. Recently, State and local agencies requested that EPA modify these forms to include new data elements and revise existing data elements to make it more useful for emergency planning and response.

What is the difference between Tier I and Tier II reporting requirements under EPCRA?

One of the important changes proposed for the EPCRA Tier I and Tier II reporting forms helps clarify how quantities of EHS chemicals were determined. In a final rule published in 2008, EPA clarified how to report a hazardous chemical mixture. The facility has to aggregate all amounts of that EHS present throughout the facility in mixtures and in pure form to determine if the reporting threshold for EHS has been met or exceeded. If the reporting threshold for that EHS is exceeded, then the facility would have an option to report the mixture or the EHS component.

The current Tier I and Tier II reporting form requires facilities to report the name of the mixture, indicate whether the mixture contains an EHS, indicate the physical and health hazards of the mixture, and report the amount present on-site, as well as the type of storage and storage locations. The regulated community and the state and local agencies, however, are unsure if the amount present on-site refers to the mixture or the non-EHS hazardous chemical or the EHS in the mixture. In order to clarify the reporting of pure chemicals vs. mixtures, the proposed Tier II form has separate entries for mixtures and pure chemicals.

Caltha LLP provides specialized expertise to clients nationwide in the evaluation environmental rules, developing EH&S compliance procedures, and preparing cost-effective EH&S management programs.

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