August Mack Newsletter | October, 2018

Don't Shed a Tear for Tier IIs: An Overview of Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know and SARA III Reporting

Many are already familiar with the gruesome history that led to government action on chemical releases in the 1980’s. EPCRA was passed in 1986 in response to serious industrial chemical accidents, including the accidental release of methyl isocyanate in Bopal, India in 1984 that killed more than 2,000 people and the chemical release in Institute, West Virginia in 1985 that resulted in the hospitalization of hundreds of people. 

These regulations have come into effect to help better protect our communities. A Tier II Report is a tool used to help your facility by reporting chemicals to local and state emergency planning agencies and emergency responders by March 1st of each year. The Tier II reports are required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) under Title III of the Superfund Amendments & Reauthorization Act (SARA Title III). Specifically, the regulations are codified in 40 CFR Part 355 (Emergency Planning and Notification) and in 40 CFR Part 370 (Emergency Release Notification and Hazardous Chemical Reporting). Any hazardous material for which a facility must maintain a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards is subject to this regulation.  Because “hazardous material” is such a broad term, nearly any chemical or material stored at an industrial or manufacturing facility must be evaluated to determine if the 10,000 pound or chemical-specific reporting thresholds are exceeded. As a result, the Tier II Report is one of the broadest environmental regulations on the books today. In addition to hazardous substances, the Tier II Report must also include information on Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) as listed in 40 CFR Part 355, Appendix A.  If a facility utilizes an EHS and maintains quantities on site that exceed the Threshold Planning Quantities as listed in Appendix A, then these materials must also be reported in the Tier II Report.

The Tier II regulations have undergone some revisions in recent years.  In 2012, the EPA revised the regulations to add relatively minor data elements to the forms with the objective of improving community emergency response plans.  In 2017, the EPA finalized a rule revisions to revise the hazard classification designations that must be reported for each reportable substance.  The hazard classifications have been revised to be consistent with the revised OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and the United Nations Globally Harmonization System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).  This final rule will be effective on January 1st, 2018. This means that as of March 1st, 2018 facilities are required to report the revised physical and health hazards for their hazardous chemicals.

For accurate completion of a Tier II report, there are some items that your facility should have in place. A comprehensive and up-to-date chemical inventory list, organized and updated SDSs are important, particularly when determining EHS stored or used on-site and determining the proper hazard categories. Accurate and readily available inventory information also facilitates making threshold determinations.  Finally, prior to submitting your Tier II report for the 2018 reporting year, it is recommended that you verify the preferred method of submittal for your state.  Many state or local emergency planning commissions require electronic submittal and may have their own software program for report preparation. 

To learn more about this topic, register to attend our free webinar,  Don't Shed a Tear for Tier IIs: An Overview of Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know and SARA III Reporting, on January 9, 2019 @ 3:00pm.

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