SARA 304, Response to Accidental Spills, Releases and Emergency Preparedness
Facilities are required to report an accidental spill or release of a hazardous substance under Section 304 of SARA (aka the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, CERCLA) if the amount of the spill/release exceeds the Reportable Quantity (RQ) in pounds as assigned by the EPA to the specific chemical(s) in question. This release is reportable to local, state and national authorities by phone within one hour of the event's occurrence and in writing within five days. The emergency phone call is made to the National Response Center and Terrorist Prevention Hotline. Some 775 chemicals are regulated under Section 304 of SARA.
Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), aka Form “R” Reporting Under SARA, Sec. 313
Since 1987, the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting program has accounted for the release of toxic chemicals to the environment (air, land and water) by Industry in the U.S. As a result of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, source reduction and waste minimization were incorporated into TRI reporting beginning with the 1991 compliance year. Over 800 specified toxic chemicals and chemical categories are required for reporting due to their strong tendencies to cause serious injuries with short term exposures, cause cancer in humans, and impose significantly adverse effects on the environment.
The purpose of TRI, SARA Section 313 is:
1. Initially, to monitor the release of toxic chemicals – liquids, solids and gases – to the environment by companies that process, manufacture, import, or "otherwise use" these chemicals under STANDARD operating procedures throughout the entire calendar year.
2. Reduce toxic pollution "at the source," thereby requiring companies to reduce releases of their toxic chemicals to the environment.
TRI requires covered facilities to submit annual routine release reports and source reduction documentation by July 1 annually, to address the need for better understanding of the amount of chemicals released to the air, water, land, or transferred off-site. Specifically, TRI covers a list of over 800 chemicals and chemical categories that are acutely toxic (i.e., they cause serious injuries even if the exposure is short-term), may or do cause cancer, or have significant adverse effects on the environment.
The reporting requirements apply to:
- facilities with 10 or more full-time employees (or 20,000 hrs./yr.),
- facilities conducting business under SIC Codes 2000 - 3999; plus 7 industry segments for "TRI Industry Expansion" initiative: 1. SIC code 10 - Metal Mining (except 1011 & 1094); 2. SIC code 12 - Coal Mining; 3. SIC codes 4911, 4931, 4939 - Electric Utilities; 4. SIC code 4953 - Commercial Hazardous Waste Treatment; 5. SIC code 5169 - Chemicals & Allied Products-Wholesale; 6. SIC code 5171 - Petroleum Bulk Terminals & Plants; 7. SIC code 7389 - Solvent Recovery Services. Incidentally, the State of Minnesota has added 14 additional SIC Codes for state reporting under TRI that venture far beyond the aforementioned SIC Code requirements.
- facilities that process, manufacture, import, or "otherwise use" a listed toxic chemical or chemical category at or above specified annual usage threshold quantities.
In 1998, the EPA introduced legislation regarding a class of 53 chemicals called Persistent Bio-Accumulative Toxins (PBTs). This program's objective is to reduce emissions from toxics that have a tendency to linger and persist in biological organisms (plant and animal life), as well as water resources for an indefinite time period.