Explanation of Other Related Emergency Planning Laws


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 non-hazardous 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 emergnecies, 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 homepage 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 your 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. 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 facility, 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.

RMP*Info now available on EPA's Envirofacts at www.gov.enviro. RMP*Info is the public access system for Risk Management Plans submitted under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The reporting deadline for these plans was June 21, 1999. The RMP Reporting Center currently is processing thousands of RMPs that were received.

For a brief explanation of the RMP Program, go to: http://www.epa.gov:9966/srmpdcd/owa/overview$.startup

To find specific facility RMP data, go to: http://www.epa.gov:9966/srmpdcd/owa/rmp_cmnc$.startup

For the text of the actual legislation passed by Congress, click:

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

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 offsite consequence analysis recommended by the EPA. When you use RMP*Comp, (a) you don't need to make any calculations by hand (you just enter necessary information, such as the amount of a chemical stored in a vessel), and (b) the program guides you 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.
http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/ is another website address to view information about the RMP program.

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.

A facility needing to submit an RMP may go to this website to file the RMP.
Click on : http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/acc-pre.html There is other information at this site worth the public's reviewing.

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

RMP Audit Guidance -
This 94 page guidance document is written for EPA, State and local officials who will be auditing facility RMPs for compliance with 112(r) of the Clean Air Act. Industry representatives may find the check list at the back of the document particularly helpful should their facility be slated for an audit in the future. It is available at http://www.epa.gov/ceppo/pubs/audit_gd.pdf


(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.

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:
(800) 424-9346 or DC Area Local (703) 412-9810 or TDD (800) 553-7672 or TDD DC Area Local (703) 412-3323


A strong right-to-know program for RMP information has tremendous potential for hazard reduction. Effective outreach builds EPA's chemical safety constituencies.