How to Stay in Compliance with SARA Title III Regulations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) in 1986. This act was created by Congress through Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) to help communities plan for and manage chemical emergencies. This act implemented several reporting requirements on most industrial facilities throughout the U.S. These reporting requirements are most commonly known as SARA Reporting. In this article, we will discuss the most common of the SARA Reports and Notifications and what your facility may need to do about each of them. These Reports include: Sections 302, 303, 304, 311, 312, and 313.

Section 302/303 Reporting:

If your facility stores an amount of an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS) above its Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ), then you are required to submit a report. This is typically done through your state’s specific Tier 2 management page. Each EHS will be listed in the EPA’s most current List of Lists, which details that specific chemical’s TPQ, in pounds. This report is a not a recurring requirement but is necessary within 60 days of the chemical first being stored at the facility as well as if the storage information for this chemical changes. This report should be submitted to both your State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) as well as your Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). You may be required to submit a subsequent report if there are significant changes at the facility related to the EHS.

Section 303 requires LEPCs to prepare a local emergency plan for the above facilities. An LEPC or SERC may reach out to your facility for more information related to the storage of the EHS.

Section 304 Reporting:

If your facility has a chemical release of any chemical with a total listed value in the “Section 304 EHS RQ” or “CERCLA RQ” columns of the List of Lists  within a 24-hour period, your facility is required to submit a Section 304 Report. As an example, a facility could have two smaller spills that total over the RQ value within a single 24-hour period. (RQ stands for Reportable Quantity. CERCLA stands for Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.) If the released chemical is listed under the EHS column of the List of Lists, and is released in a quantify equal to or greater than the listed value, and the chemical is exposed to the environment off-site of the facility’s property, your facility must immediately notify their SERC and LEPC. If the released chemical is listed under the CERCLA RQ column of the Lists of Lists, and is released in a quantify equal to or greater than the listed value, and the chemical is exposed to the environment off-site or on-site, your facility must immediately notify their SERC, LEPC, as well as the National Response Center (NRC). Notifications should be made verbally immediately after discovering a release, with the written report being sent as soon as “practicable”. Verbal reports should be made by phone, while the written report can be made using your state’s specific methods.

Section 311/312 Reporting:

If your facility stores a hazardous chemical on site in quantities greater than or equal to 10,000 pounds at any one time during the calendar year, you are required to submit a 312 Report, otherwise known as Tier 2. You can identify if a chemical is hazardous by referring to the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). These hazards can include flammability corrosivity, etc. In addition to the 10,000 pound threshold, if your facility stores an EHS in quantities greater than or equal to 500 pounds or the chemical’s TPQ (whichever is lower), then a 312 Report should also be submitted for this chemical. Tier 2 Reports are annual reports that must be submitted by March 1 for the previous year (i.e. March 1st, 2022 for calendar year 2021). The related Section 311 Report is a one time notification that will include the material’s SDS as well as other information pertaining to the chemical’s storage. The 311 and 312 Reports are required to be submitted to your facility’s SERC, LEPC, and local fire department.  Each SERC, LEPC, and local fire department may have different requirements regarding the submission of the 311 and 312 reports, so your facility should ensure the proper submittal methods are being used each year. In addition to this, there are exceptions that may allow you to not submit a Tier 2 Report for your facility, but these should be reviewed thoroughly prior to making a final decision about not reporting. Please note that your state’s reporting requirements may be more stringent than the national standards, so you should review the appropriate reporting guidelines prior to submittal.

Section 313 Reporting:

If your facility uses a hazardous chemical identified in the “Section 313” column of the List of Lists, your facility may have to submit a Section 313 Report, otherwise known as Form R or Form A. The rules and requirements for when to submit a Form R Report are rather complex, but this section will provide a quick summary of the core requirements. The Form A is a much simpler version of the Form R, but comes with many requirements that limit who can submit this report in lieu of the Form R.

Before a determination can begin on chemical usage, your facility should ensure it is required to submit a Section 313 Report. If your facility has at least 10 full-time employees and has a covered Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code (nearly all facilities besides scrap yards), the facility should continue to determine if it is required to report for Form R. For more information on how to assess facility determination, please see this link: TRI Covered Industry Sectors.

Once your facility determines it has the potential to submit Form R reports, you should take a full inventory of the chemicals used at your facility. If any of the chemicals used at the facility include a 313 Reportable Chemical as identified in the “Section 313” column of the List of Lists, your facility should calculate the total amount of the chemical used in the previous calendar year.

After this list has been fully assembled, your facility should determine how the chemicals were used. If they were “manufactured” or “processed” in quantities greater than or equal to 25,000 pounds, the facility is required to submit a Form R report for that specific chemical. If the chemical was “otherwise used” such as in cleaning chemicals that completely evaporate or metal cutting fluids in quantities greater than or equal to 10,000 pounds, the facility is required to submit a Form R report for that specific chemical. Please note that each threshold of manufactured, processed, and otherwise used is unique – meaning a facility can manufacture 24,500 pounds of a reportable chemical and otherwise use 5,000 pounds of the same chemical, but still not need to report.

Some things to consider when making this determination are as follows:

  • Does your facility manufacture any chemicals as byproducts? (such as methanol created from kiln drying)
  • Does your facility have any reportable chemicals as ingredients in your product? (such as lead in wood)
  • Does your facility ship scrap metal to a recycling yard? (reportable metals may be present in this material)

These reports and notifications should be submitted to the EPA by July 1st of each year. The overall requirements and details regarding the determination and submission of Form R reports can be overwhelming, so you should start this process as soon as you can each year.

Do you have questions regarding if you need to submit any of the discussed SARA Reports? CTI can help – we offer a large variety of assistance with determining your SARA Reporting requirements. Services we offer relating to this include, but are not limited to:

  • Determination of reporting requirements and preparation or submittal of all the necessary SARA Reports for your facility.
  • CTI can audit your submittals to ensure you have properly accounted for all the chemicals present at your facility.
  • CTI can visit your facility and assist you in your initial determination, teaching you how to ensure you are accounting for each reportable chemical.

Resources:

List of Lists – https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2015-03/documents/list_of_lists.pdf

Georgia’s 302, 304, 311, and 312 Reports Submission Portal – https://erplan.net/eplan/home.htm

Georgia’s 313 Report Submission Portal – https://cdx.epa.gov/

EPA’s quide to reporting Form R – https://ordspub.epa.gov/ords/guideme_ext/f?p=104%3A41

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