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Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA)

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Definition

The U.S. Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) also known as the Community Right-To-Know Act or SARA, Title III provides for the collection and public release of information about the presence and release of hazardous or toxic chemicals in the nation's communities.

The law requires industries to participate in emergency planning and to notify their communities of the existence of, and routine and accidental releases of, hazardous chemicals. The goal is to help citizens, officials, and community leaders to be better informed about toxic and hazardous materials in their communities.

Additional Info

To implement EPCRA, Congress required each state to appoint a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC). The SERC's were required to divide their states into Emergency Planning Districts and to name a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) for each district.

Broad representation by fire fighters, health officials, government and media representatives, community groups, industrial facilities, and emergency managers ensures that all necessary elements of the planning process are represented. If you have a major chemical user or manufacturer in your community, plans to deal with emergency releases have already been developed. Consult your local or regional EPA office for more information.

A list of over 600 chemicals subject to EPCRA are listed in the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which is maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Key Provisions of EPRCRA

EPCRA's key provisions are referred to by their Section in Subchapter J of Title 40 of the Federal Code:

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  1. Sections 301 to 303: Emergency planning. Local governments are required to prepare chemical emergency response plans, and to review plans at least annually. State governments are required to oversee and coordinate local planning efforts. Facilities that maintain Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) on-site in quantities greater than corresponding threshold planning quantities (TPQs) must cooperate in emergency plan preparation. The current EHS list is maintained in Appendices A and B to Part 355.
  2. Section 304: Emergency Notification. Facilities must immediately report accidental releases of EHSs and "hazardous substances" defined under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Any releases of these substances in quantities greater than their corresponding Reportable Quantities (RQs) must be reported to state and local officials.
  3. Sections 311 and 312: Community Right-to-Know Requirements. Facilities handling or storing any hazardous chemicals must submit Safety Data Sheets to state and local officials and local fire departments. Hazardous chemical are defined under OSHA regulations such as HCS 2012. Facilities must also submit an inventory form of these chemicals to state and local officials and local fire departments. Facilities were originally required to provide either a Tier I or Tier II form. The Tier II form is more comprehensive and currently all states require Tier II forms instead of Tier I. Tier II forms contain basic facility identification information, employee contact information, information about chemicals stored or used at the facility, and additional data elements which could be useful to local planners and responders.
  4. Section 313: Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Facilities must complete and submit a toxic chemical release inventory form (Form R) annually. Form R must be submitted for each of the over 600 TRI chemicals that are manufactured or otherwise used above the applicable threshold quantities.
  5. Section 322: Trade secrets. Facilities are allowed to withhold the specific chemical identity from the reports filed under sections 303, 311, 312 and 313 of EPCRA if the facilities can substantiate a genuine trade secret designation.
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SDS Relevance

On June 13, 2016, the US EPA published a final rule, Hazardous Chemical Reporting: Community Right-to- Know; Revisions to Hazard Categories and Minor Corrections (see FR 81 FR 38104), adopting the physical and health hazards from OSHA's HCS 2012. The preamble of the rule states that facilities should use the new physical and health hazards on their emergency and hazardous chemical inventory form (also known as the "Tier II reporting form") for chemicals present at their facility starting with 2017 calendar year.

EPCRA or TRI information is not the same as an SDS, but SDS's are part of the required data. EPCRA and TRI data not only includes SDS's on specific TRI substances, but also provides useful information for people concerned about the presence (or potential presence) of chemicals in their community or environment. You can search the TRI inventory in your area with a number of tools available from the EPA web site.

Further Reading

See also: SARA, Toxics Release Inventory./

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Entry last updated: Monday, February 10, 2020. This page is copyright 2000-2021 by ILPI. Unauthorized duplication or posting on other web sites is expressly prohibited. Send suggestions, comments, and new entry desires (include the URL if applicable) to us by email.

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is believed to be true and accurate, however ILPI makes no guarantees concerning the veracity of any statement. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. ILPI strongly encourages the reader to consult the appropriate local, state and federal agencies concerning the matters discussed herein.