Preparing for an Unannounced Inspection

While at a client site yesterday, I received a call that the Fire Department wanted to visitLEPC, EPCRA, environmental reporting, ehs consultant in south florida the facility.  About an hour later a representative from the local fire department was on-site.  Believe it or not, he wanted to see the chemicals reported on the Tier II report for the facility submitted earlier in the year—as discussed last week the Tier II report is due by March 1 of every year.  A practice that I have made a habit of is the creation of a documented evaluation of all materials present at a facility that are listed as Environmentally Hazardous Substances (EHS)—I also conduct this evaluation for any required regulatory reports.  The practice makes is much easier to explain to a regulator the reason for reporting or not reporting a specific chemical while greatly reducing questions and potential findings.

It is not only important to create adequate reporting documentation but also to file it in manner that makes it easy to locate in the event of an unannounced inspection.  Initially I was unable to find my files—needless to say this caused a bit of a panic—however, shortly after the inspector arrived I found the file and was able to provide him with the requested information and to correct some inaccuracies.   In addition to my calculations he asked for a site map, the location of all materials that were reported on the Tier II report, the facility’s emergency response plan and a list of emergency contacts.  This inspection points to the need to be prepared with documentation required by regulations applicable to your facility.  It also highlights the need to ensure communications about the location of such documentation.  What happens when the consultant or EHS professional is not on-site?  These scenarios should also be considered and plans created to address them.  Had I been unprepared or unable to locate the documentation, or if the client was not knowledgeable about the location of the files had I been off site, the facility would have most likely been cited and possibly fined for not meeting these requirements.

Are you prepared for your next unannounced inspection?  Do you have a practice that works in maintaining good records?  Please share by leaving a comment.

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Last week I presented a series on Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know ActCERCLA, EPCRA, Superfund, ehs consultant in south florida (EPCRA), in the second part of that series I discussed Emergency Release Notification Requirements.  I briefly mentioned the intersection between the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) also known as Superfund.  This intersection applies to releases (or spills of hazardous substances into the environment) but there are other aspects of CERCLA that I will discuss here.  CERCLA is the regulation which permits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remediate locations that are abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.  A number of legalities are involved but the ultimate result is clean up of these hazardous waste sites when responsible parties cannot be assigned or fail to clean these areas–although this effort may take years.  The programs includes site identification, monitoring and response activities that are coordinated through state environmental protection and waste management agencies. The areas are identified on the National Priorities List (NPL)–a list of the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories.  Sites are included on this list through:

  1. EPAs Hazard Ranking System (HRS).
  2. The second mechanism for placing sites on the NPL allows States or Territories to designate one top-priority site regardless of score.
  3. The third mechanism allows listing a site if it meets all three of these requirements:
      • the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the U.S. Public Health Service has issued a health advisory that recommends removing people from the site;
      • EPA determines the site poses a significant threat to public health; and
      • EPA anticipates it will be more cost-effective to use its remedial authority (available only at NPL sites) than to use its emergency removal authority to respond to the site.

After a site is listed on the NPL the remedial investigation/feasibility study is used to determine the risk presented to human health & the environment.

Where does the term Superfund come from?  The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA) extended the authority of CERCLA and also provided a tax on hazardous materials that allowed for the allocation of monies to fund the clean up of NPL sites.  This leads into the discussion on the CERCLA release notification requirements,  the purpose of which is to help EPA identify sites that potentially warrant a response action.   As mentioned in the post EPCRA Emergency Release Notification Requirements, CERCLA hazardous substance releases that meet or exceed the reportable quantity (within a 24 hour period) must be reported to the National Response Center (NRC).  If the hazardous substance is also a Environmentally Hazardous Substance (EHS) as defined by EPCRA (over one third of EHSs are also CERCLA hazardous substances) it must also be reported as discussed in the post ECPRA Emergency Release Notifications.

More questions about CERLCA?  Following are some resources that can provide some answers.

EPA’s Superfund Homepage
Superfund Clean Up Policies & Guidance
Contaminated Site Clean Up Information Training Center
Superfund Sites Where You Live

Do you have other resources on CERCLA?  If so share them by leaving a comment below.


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EPCRA TRI Reporting

I will wrap up this series of posts on EPCRA regulations with the last of the required TRI Report, EPCRA, toxic chemicals, Form R, Form Areports, the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Report.  Let’s begin with identifying which facilities need to complete this report (see 40 CFR 372.22 for details). Facilities that have:

  1. More than 10 employees
  2. A certain North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 
  3. Manufactured, processed or otherwise used toxic chemicals listed in the regulation.

The first two are easily identifiable while the last is a bit more difficult due to the regulatory jargon.   The definitions of the three terms are the determining factor in whether the regulations are applicable or not so let’s discuss those a bit.  The term manufacture not only means produced at the facility but includes importing, preparing or compounding of a toxic chemical.  The term also includes coincidental production of another toxic chemical during manufacture, processing, use or disposal of another chemical or mixture.  To process a toxic chemical means preparation of the toxic chemical for distribution in commerce in the same form or physical state as received, in a different form or state, as part of an article, in a mixture or trade product name.  Finally, otherwise used is any use of a toxic chemical outside of manufacturing or processing but does not includes disposal or stabilization (unless related to treatment, storage and Disposal Facility activities).  You may also notice that the TRI regulations introduce the term toxic chemical, these materials are found in a list at 40 CFR 372.65.

Facilities that manufacture or process 25,000 pounds of a toxic chemical are required to submit a TRI Report while the threshold for otherwise used toxic chemicals is 10,000 pounds.

An environmental regulation would just not be complete without some exceptions and 40 CFR 372.28 contains a list of chemicals of concern that have lower thresholds and must be considered as some of them are extremely low (i.e. lead 100 pounds).  The good news is that there are also a variety of exemptions to TRI reporting, my personal favorite is for articles which includes lead acid batteries, making the 100 pound threshold a little farther out of reach for facilities whose processes do not include lead.  Some other goodies are the de minimis, laboratory and vehicle maintenance exemptions.  These omit the need to report small amounts of toxic chemicals in mixtures (1% or less or 0.1% if the mixture contains a carcinogen); toxic chemicals manufactured, processed or otherwise used in laboratories; or those used in maintaining vehicles operated by the facility.  To see a detailed list of the exemptions please visit 40 CFR 372.38.

The TRI Report is due annually before July 1 and must be submitted to the designated state environmental agency.   A TRI report can be submitted using a Form R or a Form A, electronically using TRI-ME or in paper format.  It is up to each facility to determine if a Form A is permitted as certain requirements must be met (the instructions have a great decision tree on page 12).   Following are additional resources on TRI, they are typically updated on annual basis at the TRI Homepage.  Enjoy!

Basis Concepts of TRI
List of Lists (document contains all the thresholds I have discussed in this series of posts).
TRI Advanced Concepts Training
TRI Threshold Screening Tool
TRI Reporting Forms and Instructions


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EPCRA Reporting

Over the past few posts I have discussed the requirements of Emergency Planning EPCRA, chemical inventory reporting, MSDS reporting, hazardous chemicals, environmentally hazardous substances, hazardous substancesCommunity Right to Know Act (EPCRA) for both Emergency Planning and Emergency Release Notifications.  In today’s post I am going to tackle part one of the last major section of EPCRA, reporting.  There are three reports required by EPCRA:  Chemical Inventory, Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and Toxic Release Inventory Reporting—today I will focus on the first two.

Hazardous Chemical Storage Reporting (Tier I/Tier II Inventory Report)
EPCRA requires facilities that meet the following threshold requirements to complete and submit by March 1 of each year Tier I or Tier II Inventory Report.

  1. Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) stored at or above the Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ) or 500 pounds whichever is lower.  Recall the list of EHS are found in Appendices A and B of 40 CFR 355.
  2. Retail gas stations with underground gasoline storage tanks of 75,000 gallons or more.
  3. Retail gas stations with underground diesel fuel storage tanks of 100,000 gallons or more.
  4. Any hazardous chemical (as defined by OSHA) at or above 10,000 pounds.

In the previous posts of this series I have mentioned the terms EHSs as defined by EPCRA, hazardous substances as defined by CERLCA and today’s term is hazardous chemicals.   The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines hazardous chemicals through the Hazard Communications Standard (HCS) in 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this standard has recently changed and the definition of hazardous chemical is changing along with it).  The threshold requirement described in number 4 above includes any material for which an employer is required to maintain an MSDS (now called Safety Data Sheet).  Lead (Pb) is an example of a hazardous chemical that quickly adds up to 10,000 pounds due to its extreme heaviness—most facilities with even a small number of lead acid batteries can trigger this threshold.

Whether a facility submits a Tier I or Tier II Inventory is state dependent.  Most states require Tier II for which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed software, Tier2Submit, to ease the reporting process.  The inventory report must be submitted to the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and the Fire Department that has jurisdiction where the reporting facility is located; and as mentioned earlier the inventory must be submitted annually by March 1.  EPA has created a detailed instruction manual (see resources below) for correctly completing the forms, in addition to giving specific information on how calculations for mixtures should be performed.

MSDS Reporting
This reporting is a one-time EPCRA requirement to submit an MSDS for chemicals stored at or above the four threshold categories discussed above in Chemical Inventory Reporting to the SERC, LEPC and local fire department.  A detailed list of chemicals categorized by hazard class can be submitted in lieu of MSDSs.  The report is required within 3 months of becoming subject to the reporting requirements, any time a facility receives a qualifying material at or above the TPQ an MSDS report is required.

As always, I am leaving you with some resources for further study of this topic.
Lead Acid Battery Report Guidance

Tier I and Tier II Forms and Instructions

Tier2 State Requirements & Software

Did this post answer your EPCRA MSDS and Chemical Inventory Reporting Questions?  If not leave a comment below or send me an email at info dot  Next I will tackle the TRI Report.


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EPCRA Emergency Release Notifications

I am on a quest to demystify the requirements of the Emergency Planning and EPCRA, regulatory reporting, ehs consultant in south floridaCommunity Right to Know (EPCRA) regulation.  In the previous post I discussed the requirements of EPCRA Emergency Planning, today I am focusing on EPCRA emergency release notification.  EPCRA standards require the reporting of  a release of any Environmental Hazardous Substance (EHS) at or above the reportable quantity (RQ) to at least two organizations:

  1. State Emergency Response Commission (SERC)
  2. Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)

In the event a release crosses a state boundary or areas over which differing LEPCs have jurisdiction, then those agencies must also be notified.   The immediate or initial notification is oral should include the identity and quantity of the material, the media to which it was released, and any health hazards that may result from exposure to the material—having access to a Material Safety Data Sheet (or Safety Data Sheet) is invaluable when reporting releases.  The follow up notification must be in writing, while EPA does not have a designated format many LEPCs do.  Initial notification is required immediately (i.e. upon discovery of a release the meets or exceed the RQ) and written notification is requires as soon as practical.

This is where EPCRA and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERLCA) intersect; however I will limit this discussion to include only the impacts of CERLCA on emergency release notifications.   CERLCA also identifies RQs for a list of chemicals called hazardous substances, similar to the EPCRA EHSs these quantities are also used to determine when a release needs to be reported.   If a chemical is both and EHS as defined by EPCRA and a hazardous substance as defined by CERLCA then a notification must also be made by telephone (800-424-8802) to the National Response Center (NRC) in addition to the LEPC and SERC.   I will delve further into CERLCA requirements in a later post but keep in mind a few tips on reporting:

  • Include release reporting requirements, SERC, LEPC and NRC phone numbers in your facility’s Emergency Response or Contingency Plan–this  provides easy access to the information when needed.
  • Become familiar with the reporting exemptions found in 40 CFR 355.31.

Want to take a deeper dive into these requirements?  Following  are more resources on EPCRAs Emergency Release Notification Requirements:

EPCRA Release Notification Website
RCRA, Superfund & EPCRA Hotline Training Module

Have other resources you’d like to share?  Leave a comment below.

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EPCRA Emergency Planning Requirements

In my previous post I mentioned the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) is composed of three major parts.  In today’s post I will focus on Emergency Planning, the portion of the law which intends to prepare state and local governments to respond to the most likely hazardous chemical emergencies.  EPCRA requires the existence of two organizations at the state and local government levels:
1. The State Emergency Response (SERC) Commission and
2. the Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC).
Facilities with onsite quantities of  Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) at or above the Threshold Planning Quantities (TPQs) must notify both the SERC and LEPC  within 60 days of equaling or exceeding the thresholds (either by production or purchase).  The SERC typically has the required notification forms which can be obtained by visiting the SERC website for the state in which you reside.  Click here to see to Florida form for notification.  Some of the most common EHS in my experience are:

Hydrogen Fluoride    TPQ=100 lbs

Formaldehyde           TPQ=500 lbs

Sulfuric Acid              TPQ=1000 lbs

If your company has any of the above materials or any EHSs listed on Appendices A and B at or above the TPQ a notification to the LEPC (websites to LEPCs can be found through each SERC) and the SERC is required.  A fee will most likely need to accompany your notification form, Florida’s fee is $50.   Keep in mind that some states have other requirements related to Emergency Planning, please visit your state’s SERC website for further details.

Facilities with EHS at or above TPQs are also required to identify an emergency coordinator who will represent the facility and also participate on the LEPC in preparation and creation of emergency response plans.

Would you like additional details about the emergency planning and notification portion of EPCRA?  If so see the following guidance documents:

EPCRA FAQs on Sections 301 and 302
Emergency Planning Requirements

My next post will tackle Emergency Release Notifications required by Section 304.  Have questions you would like answered?  Leave a comment below.


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Introduction to EPCRA

Environmental regulations have the tendency to confuse even the most intelligent of professionals.  A group of regulations that I revisit often is Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know (EPCRA).  This week I will post of series that will detail the requirements of EPCRA.  The goal of EPCRA, as indicated by its name, is to facilitate emergency preparations, emergency notifications and to create the framework to inform the community about hazardous chemicals stored, used, and/or released by local facilities.  In short, there are three major components to these regulations:

  1. Emergency Planning
  2. Emergency Release Notifications
  3. Inventory, MSDS and TRI Reporting

This group of regulations largely centers around Threshold Planning Quantities (TPQs) that are specified in Appendices A and B in 40 CFR 355.  These quantities of specific hazardous chemicals qualify facilities to comply with this set of regulations.   We will delve into more detail during our isolated discussions on each of the three components mentioned above this week.  Do you have specific questions about EPCRA that you would like addressed?  If so leave a comment below, email me directly or join the discussion on our Facebook Page.

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Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PBCs) Regulatory Changes Ahead

PCB Requirements; ehs compliance; eh&s consultant in south florida

PCB Chemical Structure

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a class of man-made organic materials that are desirable because of  the following characteristics: non-flammable, chemically stable, have a high boiling point and electrical insulation properties.  Unfortunately the same characteristics cause them to persist and bioaccumulate in the environment.   In addition, PCBs Continue reading

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Not all bulbs are created equally

In the last post I summarized requirements for universal waste.  One waste stream that falls into this category are bulbs (lamps).  Did you know that not all lamps need to be managed as universal waste that, in fact, some are not even classified as hazardous waste or universal waste? Continue reading

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Universal Waste Requirements

Universal waste is a special category of hazardous waste that includes batteries, universal waste requirements; ehs compliance; ehs consultant in south floridapesticides, mercury-containing equipment and lamps.  For the most part, these wastes are self-explanatory but often confusion arises from mercury-containing equipment which includes a device or part of a device (including thermostats, but excluding batteries and lamps) that contains elemental mercury integral to its function.  Some items that are typically included in this category are relays, switches (i.e. automobile switches), barometers, manometers, temperature and pressure gauges, and thermometers.  

Continue reading

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