The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 Title III (SARA), also known as Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know (EPCRA), addresses the need for publicly available hazard information by mandating the creation of State Emergency Response Commissions (SERC) and Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC). These bodies are tasked with coordinating the overall hazardous chemical planning and community right-to-know program and work to improve communities’ preparedness and response capability in emergencies involving hazardous chemicals. The law also requires facilities to submit a Tier II Report annually to inform the LEPC, SERC, and local fire departments of any hazardous chemicals they are housing so that state agencies may update their emergency preparedness and response programs. This article will cover the specifics of the SARA Tier II Report, including what facilities are required to file it, what information needs to be reported, and best practices for completion.
Requirements for Tier II reporting largely depend on the type and quantity of chemicals a facility used, stored, or handled in the previous year. Generally, the lower limit for reporting is 500 pounds for extremely hazardous substances (EHS). However, for certain chemicals, this value can be much lower due to the higher associated hazards.
Tier II reporting is a federal regulation requirement. As such, it covers all facilities that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determines must submit safety data sheets (SDS). Additionally, if a facility falls under the following qualifications, it must submit an annual Tier II report:
- At any given time, the facility housed at least 500 pounds (around 55 gallons) of an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS) or at its threshold planning quantity (TPQ), whichever is lower.
- At any given time, the facility housed at least 10,000 pounds of an OSHA-defined hazardous chemical.
- The facility is a retail gasoline or diesel station with an inventory of 75,000 gallons of gasoline or 100,00 gallons of diesel, provided that the storage tank is entirely underground and meets federal and state underground storage tank requirements.
A facility may also be required to accomplish a Tier II report without regard for threshold levels if the LEPC, SERC, or the fire department with presiding jurisdiction requests it.
This requirement has some exemptions depending on the extent of hazardous chemical use. For instance, households that use a specific product intended for distribution and general, public use are exempt. This exemption also applies to substances used for routine agricultural purposes, hospital and medical facilities, and research laboratories. Lastly, all chemicals within the facility that are used in foods, food additives, food color additives, drugs, or cosmetics by the Food and Drug Administration are exempt from being included in a Tier II report.
If a facility is designated as one of the types listed in the previous section, the SARA Tier II report must be completed and submitted to the SERC, LEPC, and the local fire department on or before March 1 of every year. Failing to submit all the requirements can mean criminal penalties of up to $50,000, imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both (depending on the severity of the violation). The forms involved in the SARA Tier II report and mode of submission may vary from state to state. However, in all instances, the following facility and contact information must be prepared (as required by the EPCRA, Section 312):
- Facility name and complete address, including the coordinates,
- Maximum number of occupants,
- North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code,
- Risk Management Program (RMP) ID number (if applicable),
- Contact information of the owner or operator,
- Contact information of the emergency coordinator, and
- Contact information of the person responsible for filing the Tier II report.
After filling out the background information for a facility, the next step entails more detailed chemical inventory information. For this part, facilities must input the following figures concerning hazardous chemicals:
- Identity of the chemical (chemical name and CAS number).
- Its physical state (solid, liquid, or gas).
- Whether or not it is pure or present in a mixture.
- Whether or not it is or contains an EHS.
- Associated physical and health hazards.
- Maximum amount on-site on any given day.
- Average daily amount on-site.
- Number of days the chemical is on site.
- Storage locations.
By describing the chemicals, their amounts, and their storage locations as accurately as possible, emergency responders can assess the gravity and act appropriately in an emergency.
Remembering that this information is for use in an emergency, attaching a site plan that details the location codes of the chemical storage locations in a facility and a list of abbreviations and codes used for building locations and areas would also be beneficial. Also, it is important to note that these are the minimum federal requirements. States can require other information at their discretion and prescribe methods of report submission.
Following these steps in completing the SARA Tier II report can ensure regular compliance with the reporting requirements and the avoidance of hefty fines:
- Keeping an updated list of all chemicals and chemical mixtures that require an SDS in a facility.
- Having a compiled list of all SDS for chemicals in a facility.
- Noting the storage locations of all chemicals, especially when a new type of chemical arrives.
- Regularly updating amounts stored for each chemical in a facility.
- Using chemical management software to continually accomplish all of the above.
Using comprehensive chemical management software can significantly improve the efficiency of completing the SARA Tier II report. The easy entry, documentation, and tracking of chemicals ensures that chemical amounts are accurately reflected in real-time. Automated SDS integration with each chemical entry makes the compilation of SDS substantially easier. Lastly, more advanced software also integrates Tier II reporting support by state to ensure that final submissions to relevant authorities are on time and accurate.
The SARA Tier II report enables state bodies to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the effects of hazardous chemical releases by requiring owners and operators to report the quantities and locations of all these chemicals in their facilities. Best practices in chemical inventory management help owners and operators comply with the many SARA Tier II reporting requirements. Using chemical management software makes the information compilation process significantly simpler and more accurate, helping facilities comply with regulatory requirements, avoid penalties, and improve emergency planning in their host communities.
- Emergency Planning and Notification, 40 C.F.R. § 355 (2008). https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-40/chapter-I/subchapter-J/part-355
- Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, 42 U.S.C. § 1613 (1986). https://www.congress.gov/99/statute/STATUTE-100/STATUTE-100-Pg1613.pdf
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. (2023, July 6). About the Tier II Chemical Reporting Program. https://www.tceq.texas.gov/permitting/tier2/about-tier-2.html
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, May 9). Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA): Definition of hazardous chemical and OSHA’s MSDS requirement for determining applicability of EPCRA 311/312. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/epcra/definition-hazardous-chemical-and-oshas-msds-requirement-determining-applicability-epcra
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, March 6). Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA): State Emergency Response Commissions. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/epcra/state-emergency-response-commissions
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, February 8). Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA): Tier II Forms and Instructions. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/epcra/tier-ii-forms-and-instructions
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