How and When to Report Spills and Other Releases [40 CFR 302.6 and 40 CFR 355]

April 19, 2018
If you release a reportable quantity (RQ) of a CERCLA hazardous substance listed in Table 302.4 of 40 CFR 302 over a 24-hour period, you must report the release as described below:
  • Immediate notification requirements of 40 CFR 302.6; and
  • Immediate and written notification requirements of 40 CFR 355
 
According to 40 CFR 302.6, you must immediately notify the National Response Center (NRC) at 1-800-424-8802 or fax at 202-267-1322 as soon as you have knowledge of a CERCLA hazardous substance release from a facility or vessel in a quantity that equals or exceeds the RQ. If the release isn’t instantaneous, you must calculate the quantity released within any 24-hour period. See Table 302.4 for the list of hazardous substances and their RQs.
 
The following releases are exempt from the notification requirements described above:
  • Releases of radionuclides meeting the criteria identified at 302.6(c)
  • RQ releases of solid particles of antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, selenium, silver, thallium, or zinc is not required if the mean diameter of the particles released is larger than 100 micrometers (0.004 inches)
  • Releases in amounts less than 1,000 lb per 24 hours of nitrogen oxide or nitrogen dioxide to the air which are the result of combustion and combustion-related activities [see 302.6(e)(1-2)]
  • Releases to the air of any hazardous substance from animal waste at farms [see 302.6(e)(3)]
 
CERCLA hazardous substance releases are also subject to the release reporting requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (or EPCRA, also known as SARA Title III). 40 CFR 355.33 states that if you have an RQ release of a CERCLA hazardous substance (Table 302.4) or of an extremely hazardous substance (Appendices A and B of 40 CFR 355) within a 24-hour period, the requirements of 40 CFR 355 Subpart C–Emergency Release Notification are triggered.
 
According to 40 CFR 355.31, a release is exempt from 40 CFR 355 release reporting if it meets any of the following criteria:
  • Release results in exposure to persons solely within the boundaries of your facility
  • Release that is a federally permitted release as defined in Section 101(10) of CERCLA
  • Release of a pesticide product that is exempt from reporting under Section 103(e) of CERCLA
  • Release that does not meet the definition of release under Section 101(22) of CERCLA and is therefore exempt from CERCLA Section 103(a) reporting
  • Radionuclide release that occurs in accordance with 355.31(e)
  • Release less than 1,000 lb per 24 hours of nitrogen oxide or nitrogen dioxide to the air which is the result of combustion and combustion related activities
  • Releases to the air resulting from animal waste at farms meeting the criteria of 355.31(g) and (h)
 
40 CFR 355.42 requires that you notify the following organizations:
  • Community emergency coordinator for the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) of any area likely to be affected by the release (if there is no LEPC, notify relevant local emergency response personnel); and
  • State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) of any State likely to be affected by the release
 
The immediate notification [40 CFR 355.40(a)] must include the following information, as long as the retrieval of this information does not cause a delay in the notification:
  • Chemical name or identity of any substance involved in the release
  • Whether the substance is an EHS
  • Estimate of the quantity of any such substance that was released into the environment
  • Time and duration of release
  • Medium or media into which the release occurred
  • Any known or anticipated acute or chronic health risks associated with the emergency and, where appropriate, advice regarding medical attention necessary for exposed individuals
  • Proper precautions to take as a result of the release, including evacuation (unless such information is readily available to the community emergency coordinator pursuant to the emergency plan)
  • Name and telephone number of the individual (or individuals) to be contacted for further information
 
You must provide a written follow-up emergency notice (or notices, as more information becomes available), as soon as practicable after the release.  40 CFR 355.40(b) states that your written notice must provide and update the information required in your immediate notification and also include the following:
  • Actions taken to respond and contain the release
  • Any known or anticipated acute or chronic health risks associated with the release
  • Where appropriate, advice regarding medical attention necessary for exposed individuals
 
The immediate notification, described in 40 CFR 355.40(a), must be oral. The follow-up emergency notification, described in 40 CFR 355.40(b), must be in writing with no particular written format specified in the regulations, although your SERC and LEPC may request a particular format or may request that you use a particular form for your written submission.
 
40 CFR 355.42(b) states that for releases occurring during transportation or from storage incident to transportation, you may meet the requirements of the subpart by notifying the 911 operator (or in the absence of a 911 emergency telephone number, the operator) of the immediate notification information listed in 40 CFR 355.40(a), and that you are not required under this subpart to submit a written follow-up notification, as described in 40 CFR 355.40(b), for such a release.
 
The following table will help you determine which release notification requirements apply to your release (the table does not apply to exempt releases):
 
RQ of a Substance is Released within a 24-hour Period
To Meet EPCRA Requirements
You Must:
To Meet CERCLA Requirements
You Must:
If substance is on both EHS list (40 CFR 355, Appendices A and B) and the list of CERCLA Hazardous Substances (40 CFR 302.4)
Notify LEPC and SERC in accordance with 40 CFR 355.40–355.43 [except for a release during transportation or from storage incident to transportation; see 40 CFR 355.42(b)]
Comply with CERCLA release notification requirements of 40 CFR 302.6 and call NRC at 1-800-424-8802 or fax 202-267-1322
If substance only on CERCLA Hazardous Substance list and not on EHS list
Notify LEPC and SERC in accordance with 40 CFR 355.40–355.43 [except for a release during transportation or from storage incident to transportation; see 40 CFR 355.42(b)]
Comply with CERCLA release notification requirements of 40 CFR 302.6 and call NRC at 1-800-424-8802 or fax 202-267-1322
If substance only on EHS list and not on CERCLA Hazardous Substance list
Notify LEPC and SERC in accordance with 40 CFR 355.40–355.43 [except for a release during transportation or from storage incident to transportation; see 40 CFR 355.42(b)]
 
This Reg of the Day™ focuses on emergency-type releases of CERCLA hazardous substances, rather than continuous releases of these listed materials. See 40 CFR 302.8 to determine if your release is a continuous release and is subject to different notification requirements.
 
To learn more about how to comply with the release reporting requirements under CERCLA and EPCRA, attend Environmental Resource Center’s SARA Title III Workshop or Environmental Regulations – Webcast.
 
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