SERC: Emergency Release Notification (Section 304)

Emergency Release Notification Reporting Requirements
 40 CFR Section 355 
Final Rule - December 3, 2008 

On December 3, 2008 EPA finalized reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).  Changes to the emergency release notification reporting requirements were proposed on April 22, 1987 (52 FR 13379).  Facilities subject to these regulations, as well as local emergency planning committees should become familiar with the new regulations.  Please note that throughout this guidance, the term "you" or "your" refer to the owner or operator of a facility.  This guidance is for federal reporting requirements for specific state reporting requirements, go to the DEEP Website.     
 
What facilities must comply with the emergency release notification requirements?
40 CFR section 355.30

You must comply with the emergency release notification requirements - if both of these two conditions are met:

  • You produce, use, or store a hazardous chemical at your facility; and 
  • You release a reportable quantity (RQ) of any extremely hazardous substance (EHS) or of a hazardous substances as defined by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA hazardous substance) at your facility.  Certain releases are exempted from these requirements.  
What types of releases are exempt from the emergency release notification requirements?
40 CFR section 355.31

You do not have to provide emergency release notification for any of the following six types of releases of EHSs or CERCLA hazardous substances that occur at your facility:

  1. Any release that results in exposure to persons solely within the boundaries of your facility.
  2. Any release that is a federally permitted release as defined in section 101(10) of CERCLA.
  3. Any release of a pesticide product that is exempt from reporting under section 103(e) of CERCLA.
  4. Any 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.
  5. Any radionuclide release that occurs:
    • naturally in soil from land holdings such as parks, golf courses, or other large tracts of land.
    • naturally from land disturbances activities, including farming, construction, and land disturbance incidental to extraction during mining activities - specific exemptions are listed in section 355.31.
  6. Any release less than 1,000 pounds per 24 hours of nitrogen oxide or nitrogen dioxide to the air which is result of combustion and combustion related activities.
Which emergency release notification requirements apply to continuous release?
40 CFR section 355.32

If the release of an EHS or CERCLA hazardous substance is continuous and stable in quantity and rate at your facility as defined in 40 CFR 302.8(b), then the release qualifies for reduced reporting requirements.  Under these reduced reporting requirements, you do not need to provide the notifications required under section 355.40.    However, in addition to the notifications required under 40 CFR 302.8, you must make all four of the following notifications to the relevant local emergency response personnel for any area likely to be affected by the release and to the SERC of any state likely to be affected by the release.

  1. Initial notifications as specified in 40 CFR 302.8(d) and (e).
  2. Notification of a "statistically significant increase," defined in 40 CFR 302.8(b) as may increase above the upper bound of the reported normal range.
  3. Notification of a "new release" as specified in 40 CFR 302.8(g)(1).
  4. Notification of a change in the normal range of the release as specified under 40 CFR 302.8(g)(2).
What release quantities of EHSs and CERCLA hazardous substances trigger the emergency release notification requirements?
40 CFR section 355.33
 
The release of a RQ of an EHS or CERCLA hazardous substance within any 24-hour period triggers the emergency release notification requirements.  RQs for EHSs are listed in the Final Rule, Appendices A and B in the column labeled "reportable quantity."  RQs for CERCLA hazardous substances are listed in Table 302.4 of 40 CFR 302.4 in the column labeled "Final RQ."
 
What information must I provide?
40 CFR section 355.40
 
You must make two separate notifications to comply with the federal emergency release notification requirements.  Refer to 40 CFR section 355.40 for requirements for reporting such releases.   ( Note that the retrieval of this information should not cause a delay in the notification on the emergency response.
 
Any person in charge of a vessel or an offshore or an onshore facility shall, as soon as he or she has knowledge of any release (other than a federally permitted release or application of a pesticide) of a hazardous substance from such vessel or facility in a quantity equal to or exceeding the reportable quantity determined by this part in any 24-hour period, immediately notify the National Response Center
 
The information must be provided to the relevant local emergency response personnel (recommend notifying the 911 emergency telephone number) and the SERC through the DEEP Emergency Response Unit at 866-DEP-SPIL (866-337-7745) or 860-424-3338. (Should these numbers be unavailable for any reason, call 860-424-3333.)
 
What is EPA's interpretation of the time period for release notification?
40 CFR Section 355.33
 
EPA's interpretation has been that the 24-hour time period under CERCLA also applies to EPCRA.   The release of a reportable quantity within any 24-hour period triggers the emergency release notification requirements.
 
In what format should the federal information be submitted?
 
The immediate notification to comply with the federal reporting requirement should be oral.  The follow-up emergency notification shall be in writing.  EPA does not specify a particular format for the written follow-up emergency notification. 
 
Any person in charge of a vessel or an offshore or an onshore facility shall, as soon as he or she has knowledge of any release (other than a federally permitted release or application of a pesticide) of a hazardous substance from such vessel or facility in a quantity equal to or exceeding the reportable quantity determined by this part in any 24-hour period, immediately notify the National Response Center (800) 4248802; in Washington, DC (202) 4262675 or (202) 2672675; the facsimile number is (202) 2672165.  Instructions for filing with the NRC can be found at the National Response Center Web page

This guidance is designed to answer general questions and provide basic information.  You should refer to the appropriate statutes, regulations and National Response Center Instructions for the specifics.  It is highly recommended to refer to the definitions in 40 CFR part 355.61 to determine how the key words are defined.  This document should not be relied upon to determine whether or not an emergency release notification reporting is required.  It is the responsibility of the person reporting the incident to comply with all  reporting requirements.

Content Last Updated on July 1, 2011