Emergency Planning & Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA)
Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act
The Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) was created to help communities plan for emergencies involving hazardous substances. The Act established requirements for federal, state, and local governments, Indian tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and "Community Right-to-Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals.
Planning & Reporting Facilities
Portage County has 34 planning facilities. These are facilities that use, store or produce extremely hazardous substances, as defined by the EPA. The most common chemical is sulfuric acid. Chlorine, anhydrous ammonia, and nitric acid are also common chemicals used throughout the community. In addition to the planning facilities, there are 64 facilities that report hazardous chemicals used or stored throughout the year.
Local Emergency Planning Committee
State and federal law requires each county to have a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), which must develop an emergency response plan, review it at least annually, and provide citizens with information about chemicals in the community. Plans are developed by the LEPC with stakeholder participation. Portage County LEPC meets quarterly (February, May, August, and November) every year. Learn more about the LEPC by clicking here.
In Portage County, Emergency Management is charged with the responsibility for managing the EPCRA program, supporting the LEPC, and managing all related activities surrounding hazardous materials in the County. They can be contacted at 715-346-1397, 1462 Strongs Avenue, Stevens Point, Wisconsin 54481, or Email Anthony Luchini.
You can find out more about the Portage County Emergency Management by clicking here.
Summary of Federal and State Requirements
Emergency Planning Notification
Sections 302 and 323.60 Wis. Stats., require the owner or operator of a facility that has presented any extremely hazardous substances (EHS), in amounts that equal or exceed the chemical-specific threshold planning quantity (TPQ), to notify WEM and the LEPC the facility is subject to the planning provisions of the Act. This requirement must be done within 60 days of the EHS being present at the facility at or above the TPQ. In Wisconsin the facility would report using Form DMA 1003, Emergency Planning Notification Fee Statement. There is a one-time $1,080 planning fee also due within 60 days of the EHS being present at or above the TPQ. A 20% late payment surcharge is due if the fee is paid after 60 days. A facility is exempt from fee payment if the operator has less than 10 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees (less than 20,000 paid hours annually) in the state.
Providing Emergency Planning Information
Sections 303 and 323.60, Wis. Stats., requires an owner/operator subject to Section 302 to provide the LEPC with the name, address, and telephone number of a facility representative "who will participate in the emergency planning process as the facility emergency coordinator." Correspondence on business letterhead outlining responsibilities is acceptable. The county LEPC will then develop the off-site plan in cooperation with the facility. The facility must provide the LEPC with any information that is requested and necessary to develop the plan.
Emergency Release Notification
Sections 304 and 323.60, Wis. Stats., requires the owner or operator of a facility to immediately provide verbal notification to the appropriate governmental entities (National Response Center at 800-424-8802, WEM at 800-943-0003, menu option Number 1, and appropriate LEPCs), that a release of a Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) hazardous substance or EPCRA extremely hazardous substance (EHS) has occurred which meets or exceeds the listed reportable quantity (RQ), when the release goes off-site. This is commonly referred to as the federal substance release reporting law.
Wisconsin Reporting Requirements
Wisconsin also has its own release reporting law under s. 292.11, Wis. Stats. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has authority over the law and it is commonly referred to as the DNR spill law. The law requires that the person who possesses or controls a hazardous substance that is discharged or who causes the discharge of a hazardous substance shall notify the department immediately of any discharge not exempted by law. In addition, those same persons must take the actions necessary to restore the environment to the extent practicable and minimize the harmful effects of the discharge to the air, lands, or waters of this state. Chapter NR706 is the administrative rule that further defines notification requirements and spill reporting exemptions. To provide notification, call the WI DNR Spills Hotline at 800-943-0003, and use menu option Number 1 for substance release reporting.
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or SDS Chemical List Submission
Sections 311 and 323.60, Wis. Stats., states that the owner or operator of a facility, required under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to prepare or have available a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for a hazardous chemical, must submit to WEM, LEPC, and the local fire department, an SDS for each hazardous chemical OR an SDS Chemical List, listing hazardous chemical grouped by hazard category, for each hazardous chemical present at a facility in quantities that equals or exceeds 10,000 pounds and for EHS that is present at a facility in quantities that equal or exceed 500 pounds or the TPQ, whichever is less.
Section 311 is not an annual reporting requirement. However, revised SDSs or SDS chemical lists must be provided to WEM, LEPC, and the local fire department within three months after the discovery of significant new information concerning the hazardous chemical or when a new hazardous chemical becomes present at the facility above the established levels.
Annual Hazardous Chemical Inventory Reporting
Sections 312 and 323.60, Wis. Stats., and Wisconsin Administrative Rule WEM 1, states that the owner/operator of a facility, required to prepare or have available an SDS for a hazardous chemical under OSHA, shall submit by March 1st annually to WEM, LEPC, and the local fire department with jurisdiction over the facility a completed emergency and hazardous chemical inventory form (Form DMA 1005 TIER II) for the facility. Any hazardous chemicals present the preceding calendar year that equaled or exceeded the 10,000-pound threshold reporting quantity and any EHS present that equaled or exceeded 500 pounds or the TPQ, whichever is less, must be reported on the Tier II Report unless a reporting exemption applies.
The annual Inventory Fee is due on or before March 1st annually. It is based on the number and quantity of chemicals that are listed on the annual Tier II Report unless a substance-specific fee exemption applies. A 20% late payment surcharge is due if the fee is paid late. A facility is exempt from fee payment if the operator has less than 10 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees (less than 20,000 paid hours annually) in the state.
Toxic Chemical Release Reporting
Sections 313 and 323.60(5)(d), Wis. Stats., and Wisconsin Administrative Rule WEM 3 requires the owner/operator of a facility with Standard Industrial Codes (SIC) 20-39, public and private agencies, or SIC codes 10-13, who have 10 or more full- time equivalent employees at the facility, to report by July 1st annually; toxic chemicals used at the facility, equal to or in excess of 10,000 pounds for the preceding year; and listed toxic chemicals manufactured (including importing) or processed at the facility, equal to or in excess of 25,000 pounds for the preceding year. The information must be reported on Toxic Chemical Release Form "R". For questions about Form "R", contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at 608-264-8592.
More information, reference materials, and links to important information can be found on the Wisconsin Emergency Management website.