Explanation of other related emergency planning laws

Other federal environmental laws require facility emergency plans that may not be easy to access or review. They often, however, require much of the same facility data.


The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the law that deals with solid and hazardous wastes. A RCRA hazardous waste treatment or disposal facility is required to have a facility emergency plan that explains the procedures to be taken at the hazardous waste treatment or disposal facility in the event of a spill of its hazardous wastes. OSHA does not require hazardous waste to have an MSDS. Different hazardous wastes are tracked by waste codes that are specific to the RCRA laws and regulations. [See EPA's "List of lists."] If a facility that is not a hazardous waste facility generates hazardous wastes, it will still be required to have a facility RCRA Contingency Plan to handle a spill of the wastes.


The Clean Water Act may require a facility to have an emergency plan to assure against a spill into a river or other body of water. If a facility has a permit to send industrial chemical discharges down the sewer to a publicly-owned wastewater treatment facility (POTW), which is often the municipal wastewater plant, the facility will likely have to get a permit to discharge industrial effluent (chemical wastes) into the public sewer system. These liquid chemical wastes discharged from the facility have to be very dilute, and there is usually periodic (monthly or quarterly) water analyses required for a permit or license to discharge this wastewater. There is usually an emergency plan required of the facility to make sure a concentrated batch of strong, undiluted chemicals doesn't get into the sewer. This is often called a Slug Control Plan.

There are emergency plans required by the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations. These regulations came about in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Also, there are the Minerals Management Service Facility Response Plan, the U.S. Coast Guard Facilities Response Plan, and the Research and Special Programs Administration Pipeline Response Plan.

To find out more about all of these various emergency plans, and to find out more about the National Response Team's Integrated Contingency Plan Guidance (One Plan), the new plan to integrate all of the various emergency plans required by federal regulations into just one emergency plan, review the document at: http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/pubs/one-plan.html


OSHA requires each facility with certain amounts of hazardous chemicals to have an Emergency Action Plan.

If enough or large enough amounts of certain hazardous chemicals are stored on-site at a facility, OSHA also has a special standard named the Process Safety Management Standard. An example of a facility that would have to comply with Process Safety Management Standards is one with 10,000 pounds of Anhydrous Ammonia on-site. An ice cream manufacturing facility might have this on-site.

OSHA requires employees to be trained about the hazardous chemicals stored, processed, and used on-site, something named OSHA Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response HAZWOPER training. (29 CFR 1910.120) HAZWOPER was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1989 after EPCRA was passed. Hazardous waste sites, hazardous waste transfer, storage, and disposal (TSD) facilities, and Superfund Sites are also regulated by this HAZWOPER standard.

Any facility required to file reports under EPCRA is governed by the HAZWOPER rule. The reasoning behind this is that if hazardous substances are located at a facility, they might spill or leak, requiring a cleanup. Once these hazardous substances have spilled or leaked, they must be quickly and safely cleaned up by trained personnel. So these cleaned up chemicals must be disposed of at that point, making the cleaned-up chemicals a hazardous waste or a nonhazardous waste depending on the chemical and the circumstances. Employees at the facility must have training on how to handle a spill of any size. Training is a legal requirement.


The Comprehensive Emergency Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, or CERCLA, is already closely intertwined with EPCRA. The Reauthorization of CERCLA by Congress in 1986 was titled SARA Title III, which is EPCRA. But CERCLA itself has certain chemical spill and emergency response components. What EPCRA or SARA Title III added was the reporting requirements about chemicals on-site at facilities BEFORE the chemical spill actually occurs so that emergency spill preparations and emergency planning could take place. In contrast to EPCRA, CERCLA's response sections have more to do with reporting a chemical spill and the actions taken to clean up spills and remediate (remedy) the chemical spill AFTER there has been a chemical spill. CERCLA sets forth in the law who is responsible for paying to clean up chemical spills, and the procedures involved. CERCLA sets up a national response to large chemical spill incidents.

CERCLA requires a facility to immediately notify the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 of a large-enough chemical spill. Failure to call the National Response Center (which is staffed by the US Coast Guard) can result in large financial penalties through an enforcement action. The SARA Title III List of Lists that has the EPCRA EHS information also contains the information about CERCLA notification levels of certain dangerous chemicals. Sometimes the CERCLA and EPCRA laws cover the same chemicals, and sometimes they don't. CERCLA's release notification is also required for spills of chemicals into or upon the "navigable waters of the United States (including most major rivers and streams)," adjoining shorelines, and contiguous areas.

CERCLA also sets up federal authorities when there is a chemical spill into the environment, or the "substantial" threat of such a chemical spill into the environment that might present a threat to public health and welfare. CERCLA allows for the gathering of environmental monitoring information and health surveys to determine if a chemical spill has occurred, or might occur.

In cases of public health emergencies caused or believed to be caused by, or believed to be caused by exposure to toxic substances (chemicals), CERCLA requires an agency named the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is within the Public Health Service, to provide medical care and testing to exposed individuals, including (but not limited to) samples of tissue, testing of chromosomes (for damage or changes), epidemiological studies (studies of illness and death rates to see if there is a change from the norm), or any other assistance appropriate under the circumstances. CERCLA also requires the ATSDR to conduct periodic survey and screening programs, either independently or as a part of another health status survey, to determine the relationships between exposure to toxic substances and illness. In cases of public health emergencies, persons exposed (to the toxic substance) shall be eligible for admission to hospitals and other facilities and services operated or provided by the Public Health Service.

The ATSDR's home page is http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/atsdrhome.html.

HazDat, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Hazardous Substance Release/Health Effects Database, is the scientific and administrative database developed to provide access to information on the release of hazardous substances from Superfund sites or from emergency events and on the effects of hazardous substances on the health of human populations. The web address is http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hazdat.html.

ATSDR has posted to the Internet a map of sites where hazard data has been assessed. The address is http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/haz-usa1.html. Click on the state to see.

Clean Air Act 112 R notification

Under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, there is another emergency planning law that picks up where EPCRA left off. It is Section 112r of the Clean Air Act, known mostly as the Risk Management Plan (RMP) Program. Starting June 21, 1999, facilities with large amounts of certain hazardous chemicals will have special emergency planning requirements. The Clean Air Act requires some 66,000 facilities to assess their own potential for serious chemical spills, fires, and explosions, and based on these assessments to prepare RMPs. There is a general duty clause in the Clean Air Act 112r that requires every facility to determine whether or not it is required to file an RMP. These RMPs include vital information for workers and communities. These facilities must identify the hazards which may result from catastrophic releases of the chemicals stored on-site, using appropriate hazard assessment techniques. They must also design and maintain a safe faci, taking such steps as are necessary to prevent releases, and to minimize the consequences of accidental releases which do occur. The latter includes notifying those within the range of a large-scale release, often called a worst case scenario, about the potential risks from such a chemical release. These RMPs are public information and are available to the public. For the text of the actual legislation passed by Congress, click: http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/rules/caaa112r.txt.

For a free program for making appropriate hazard assessment, facilities may use the following website: http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/chemaids/rmp/rmp.html

RMP*Comp is a free program facilities can use to complete the consequence analyses required under the Risk Management Planning Rule, which implements Section 112(r) of the 1990 Clean Air Act. RMP*Comp implements the off-site consequence analysis recommended by the EPA. When a facility owner or operator uses RMP*Comp, (a) there is no need to make any calculations by hand (necessary information is just entered, such as the amount of a chemical stored in a vessel), and (b) the program guides the user through the process of making an analysis.

RMP*Comp was developed by the CAMEO Team at the Office of Response and Restoration, National Ocean Service, National Ocean Service, NOAA, and the Chemical Emergency Prevention and Preparedness Office of the EPA.

The technical guidance documents are found at http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/acc-pre.html#OCA Guidance

The EPA was required to promulgate (come up with, create) an initial list of at least 100 substances (chemicals) which, in the case of an accidental release, are known to cause or may reasonably be anticipated to cause death, injury, or serious adverse effects to human health or the environment. The EPA started with the EPCRA EHS list in promulgating this list. The list will be revised from time to time, and EPA may add or delete substances from this list by its own action or by being petitioned to do so. For the list of these chemicals, click: http://www.epa.gov/ceppo/caalist.html.

This law also allows EPA to set more regulations relating to the chemicals and how they may be stored at facilities. EPA can order detection equipment to be installed at a facility, or secondary containment. EPA can order facilities to change the way they handle or store these chemicals to reduce the risks of a release. For the regulations promulgated (created) by EPA regarding CAA 112r, click on: http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/acc-pre.html#rmp and list.

These RMPs are supposed to be electronically submitted. www.epa.gov/ceppo/rmpsubmt.html

To keep abreast of RMP developments and implementation, click on:


LEPC and SERC Communications and Updates

Studies show that LEPC effectiveness is improved when LEPCs communicate with each other and share ideas. To this end, LEPCs and SERCs may find it helpful to regularly review the data at http://www.annap.infi.net/~rschel/lepcexchange.html. LEPCs and SERCs can also sign up for regular email updates at this site. The site even provides information about setting up and designing websites so that LEPCs and SERCs may create their own sites.

LEPC Studies and Recommendations

A 1997 EPA data management study of LEPCs found that 80% of LEPCs have computerized their data or plan to do so soon.

A 1994 review of EPCRA compliance found that 80% of the LEPCs are compliant with EPCRA, with a good relationship existing with regulated entities. Most LEPCs are proactive beyond the minimum requirements of EPCRA. But all LEPCs are weak in Community Right-To-Know.

Dr. Paul Hill of the National Institute of Chemical Studies and head of the Chemical Safety Accident Board said at a 1997 EPA conference that more and better information is what the 4,000+ LEPCs in America need. He questioned how LEPCs will meet:

  1. basic safety and planning responsibilities;
  2. the expectations of the Clean Air Act 112r RMP Program;
  3. their resource needs.

In a study of LEPC makeup around country: 81.9% had media, 8.1% union, EPCRA reporters 87.7%, chemical industry association members 63.8%, chambers of commerce 28.1%, Red Cross 66%.

Hill suggestioned that LEPCs:

  1. use 303(d) to get the facility data for planning;
  2. meet with facilities to discuss safety;
  3. pursue "Good Neighbor" agreements;
  4. push accident prevention;
  5. advocate toxics use reduction;
  6. comment on overall local planning and zoning regulations.

Mike Lindell of Texas A&M University said at a 1997 EPA conference that:

  1. low probability, high consequence planning is not happening.
  2. most LEPCs estimated hazard zones, but they use DOT information, which is improper.
  3. few LEPCs provide some public warning system and notification to emergency responders.
LEPCs have a perception of their role, but see themselves as technical vs. political arenas; analyses vs. processes.

LEPC effectiveness is best with technical assistance and funding; second is with technical assistance and no funding; worst is without technical assistance or funding.

Community support had some moderate correlations with LEPC effectiveness. The best LEPCs had a paid staff, a broad representation of community groups, a formal subcommittee structure, and a formal orientation for new members.

Congress admitted that LEPCs DO NOT communicate risk to the public, so Congress passed CAA 112r.

RMP Changes and Updates

After you put in the title onto the page, here's the text--no need to have each subsection or heading to the sidebar or anything:

Chemical Safety Information, Site Security and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act

Under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), by June 21, 1999, certain facilities were required to have in place a risk management program and submit a summary of that program - called a Risk Management Plan (RMP) - to the Environmental Protection Agency. On August 5, 1999, President Clinton signed legislation that removes from coverage by the RMP program any flammable fuel when used as fuel or held for sale as fuel by a retail facility. The legislation also limits access to Off-Site Consequence Analysis (OCA) data that is reported in RMPs by covered facilities. For one year beginning Aug. 5, 1999, OCA information will not be available to the public except in certain ways. During that one year period, the federal government will conduct an assessment and issue regulations governing future public access to OCA data.

Major Provisions

The law :
Exempts OCA information from public disclosure under FOIA for at least one year;

Makes OCA data available to Federal, State and local officials, including members of Local Emergency Planning Committees, for emergency planning and response purposes;

Provides for a system for making OCA data available to qualified researchers;

Prohibits Federal, State and local officials, and qualified researchers receiving OCA data, from publicly releasing OCA data except as authorized by the law;

Calls for an assessment and regulations regarding public access to OCA data within one year;

Pre-empts State FOIA laws regarding public access to OCA data unless data is collected under State law; and

Requires reports be submitted to Congress describing the effectiveness of the RMP regulations in reducing the risk of criminally-caused releases, the vulnerability of facilities to criminal and terrorist activity, and the security of transportation of substances listed under CAA Section 112(r).

Flammable Fuels

Flammable fuels used as fuel or held for sale as fuel at a retail facility are removed from coverage by the RMP program. However, flammable fuels used as a feedstock or held for sale as fuel at a wholesale facility are still covered. A retail facility is a facility "at which more than one-half of the income is obtained from direct sales to end users or at which more than one-half of the fuel sold, by volume, is sold through a cylinder exchange program."

Despite the removal of flammable fuels from the RMP program, firefighters and other local emergency responders should receive information on the potential off-site effects of accidents involving flammable fuels. [Note: The 10,000 pound threshold of EPCRA Tier Two reporting requirements still apply, and the LEPCs, SERCs, and local fire departments should still be receiving periodic reports.] EPA and industry are working with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a group that develops fire protection codes and standards, to ensure that local responders receive that information. The new law directs the General Accounting Office (GAO) to assess in two years whether this goal has been accomplished.

Public Access to OCA Data

The law exempts OCA data from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and limits its public availability for at least one year. By August 5, 2000, the federal government is to: (1) assess the risks of Internet posting of OCA data and the benefits of public access to that data, and (2) based on that assessment, publish regulations governing public access to OCA data. In the meantime, EPA is to make publicly available the OCA data without facility identification information, and covered facilities must conduct public meetings to provide summaries of their OCA data. If the government fails to issue regulations by August 5, 2000, the FOIA exemption expires.

Facility Requirements

The new law requires every covered facility to:

Hold a public meeting to share information about the local implications of its RMP, including a summary of the OCA (Off-site Consequence Analysis) portion of its plan. Small businesses can meet this requirement by publicly posting the OCA summary;

Notify the FBI by June 5, 2000, that it held such a meeting or posted such a notice within one year before, or six months after, August 5, 1999; and

Tell EPA if it distributes its OCA data to the public without restrictions. EPA is to maintain a public list of the facilities that have so distributed their OCA data.


The law includes criminal penalties of up to $1 million for violating the prohibition on unauthorized disclosure of OCA data. The law also authorizes courts to enforce the public meeting requirements.

(Revised February 5, 1999)

EPA is developing a variety of products to assist the regulated community, as well as implementing agencies and members of the general public, to understand and comply with the requirements of the accidental release prevention provisions of Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act, also known as the Risk Management Program requirements. This table provides information about products EPA is developing, including the anticipated completion date and the current status of the work. This table is organized into nine sections, the first seven of which reflect the subgroups of the RMP Implementation Workgroup which has made several recommendations to EPA concerning product development. This table will be revised monthly. The current version will be available on the CEPPO website. http://www.epa.gov/ceppo/

Clean Air Act 112r information is also available at no charge by calling the EPA Hotline 1-(800) 424-9346. CAA112(r)/EPCRA Hotline: Anyone can call the Hotline -- it offers information to a broad audience of callers with diverse backgrounds and varying degrees of regulatory knowledge. To speak with Information Specialists about regulatory questions or to order documents, call: 1-(800) 424-9346 or DC Area Local (703) 412-9810 or TDD (800) 553-7672 or TDD DC Area Local (703) 412-3323


  1. an up to date inventory of RMP facilities;
  2. "success stories" in reducing worst-case vulnerability zones (by industry);
  3. comparative analyses to provide context;
  4. "best in class" facilities for hazard prevention in various industries;
  5. chemical safety videos including Shelter-in-Place;
  6. analyses of top facility vulnerability zones (county, state, and nationwide);
  7. a public data release publication;
  8. a catalogue of relevant documents likely to be kept on-site by facilities.
A strong right-to-know program for RMP information has tremendous potential for hazard reduction. Effective outreach builds EPA's chemical safety constituencies.