In 1984, a release of deadly methyl isocyanate gas in Bhopal, India, resulted in the deaths of thousands of people living near a chemical plant. Soon after, a serious, although not fatal, chemical release occurred at a similar plant in West Virginia. These incidents emphasized the need for communities to be informed of hazardous materials in their midst and to plan for possible chemical emergencies.
In response, Congress passed Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), also known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) on Oct. 16, 1986. The fundamental purposes of the Act are to provide the public with information about toxic chemicals used and stored within communities, thereby raising public awareness of potential chemical hazards, encouraging local planning for chemical emergencies and providing emergency responders with facility specific chemical hazards.
Section 312, the Hazardous Chemical Inventory, requires owner/operators of sites storing certain hazardous chemicals or materials to report that information to states (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC), and first responders (fire departments) once a year. Hazardous chemicals are defined as any substance for which a facility must maintain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. All hazardous chemicals present at the location above threshold levels for any 24-hour period must be reported, unless specifically excluded under Section 311(e) of the EPCRA. There is a subset of hazardous chemicals known as Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS). These chemicals have reporting thresholds specifically listed by the EPA. Click here for a list of Extremely Hazardous Substances.
For Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) designated under Section 302 of this regulation, the reporting threshold is 500 pounds or the Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ), whichever is lower.
The threshold quantity for all other hazardous chemicals which must have an MSDS is 10,000 pounds.
The Hazardous Chemical Inventory (Section 312) form requires annual submission of a 'Tier II' report.
Facilities also must provide the following Tier II information for each requested substance:
- the common or chemical name of the substance, as indicated on the MSDS;
- an estimate (in ranges) of the maximum amount of the chemical present at the facility at any time during the preceding calendar year;
- a brief description of the manner in which the chemical is stored;
- the location of the chemical at the facility;
- an indication of whether the owner/operator elects to withhold location information from public disclosure.
Florida Tier II reports are required each year by March 1.