Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act

40 CFR Part 355 | Last Updated February 2024

Community safety is the focus of the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). It essentially helps local communities protect public health, safety and the environment from hazardous chemicals.

Through this act, State Emergency Response Commissions (SERC) and Local Emergency Response Committees (LEPC) were created with the responsibility of developing emergency response plans. The main components of EPCRA include emergency planning, emergency release notification, hazardous chemical storage reporting and toxic chemical release inventory.

If you store hazardous chemicals equal to or in excess of established thresholds, you must provide chemical hazard information to local and state emergency response agencies annually.  Hazardous chemicals are those materials for which OSHA requires Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to be prepared and/or maintained in the workplace.  Extremely hazardous substances are specifically listed in 40 CFR 355 Appendices A and B.

General Requirements

A facility must be aware of which hazardous chemicals are on site and if any of these chemicals are extremely hazardous substances.  Once you identify the hazardous chemicals, determine if any exceed the threshold planning quantities (TPQ) and the hazards the chemicals present.

For each EHS that meets or exceeds the reporting threshold of 500 lbs or TPQ (whichever is less) the facility must:

  • Notify the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and Local Emergency Response Committee LEPC) of the EHS and quantity stored on site within 60 days of exceeding the TPQ.

EHS chemicals can be referenced from the EPA's Oil Spills Prevention and Preparedness Regulations.

For each hazardous chemical (including EHS) that exceeds its TPQ the facility must:

  • Submit either copies of MSDS(s) or a list of hazardous chemicals to the SERC, LEPC and local fire department within 60 days of exceeding TPQ  (Section 311).
  • Submit an annual Tier II hazardous chemical inventory form to the SERC, LEPC and local fire department by March 1 (Section 312).

For retail gasoline stations, the reporting thresholds for gasoline is 75,000 gallons and 100,000 gallons for diesel. 

Reporting Requirements

Determine if you store extremely hazardous substances (EHS) and/or hazardous chemicals on site in excess of established threshold reporting quantities.

Hazardous chemicals do not include:

  • A food additive regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • A solid (such as steel) that does not present a hazard under normal conditions. The hazardous chemical within in a solid is no longer exempt if it is used in a manner that creates exposure to hazards (i.e. cutting, welding, grinding).
  • A substance used for personal, family, or household purposes.  Also exempt are materials used by a business that are in the same form (i.e. packaged for home use) and concentration as a material sold to the general public.
  • Substances used in research laboratories, hospitals, or medical facilities under the direct supervision of a technically qualified individual.
  • Any substance used in routine agricultural operations, or any fertilizer held for sale by a retailer.

Note: These exemptions do NOT include EHS (i.e. anhydrous ammonia). 

Once you have identified that EHS or hazardous chemicals are present on site:

  • Identify the ingredients in the material stored on site by referencing Material Safety Data Sheets, laboratory analysis, etc.
  • Determine if any of these ingredients are extremely hazardous substances (EHS).  Identify each threshold planning quantity (which will be 500 pounds or less as stipulated).  The Consolidated Chemical List published by the EPA (EPA 550-B-98-017) can also provide TPQ for EHS.
  • Calculate the maximum amount of each EHS stored on site at any one time. Compare this value with the TPQ. 
  • Determine if any other hazardous substances, as defined by OSHA, is stored on site in excess of 10,000 pounds.

Section 311 Requirements

A list of EHS that are stored in quantities above the TPQ should be identified and provided to the Fire Department, LEPC, and SERC.  The list should include the maximum amount of each chemical stored on site, its location within the facility, and its hazard category or categories.

The hazard categories include:

  • Immediate (acute) health hazards (i.e. toxic or irritant)
  • Delayed (chronic) health hazard (i.e. carcinogenic)
  • Fire hazard
  • Pressure hazard
  • Reactive hazard

An updated list need only be submitted when new hazardous chemicals become present at the facility in quantities greater than its established TPQ or if requested by the fire department, LEPC or SERC.

Section 312 Requirements

Annual reporting for all chemicals that exceed the threshold planning quantity is required.  The computer generated federal or Iowa Tier II Form must be used and are available from the Iowa Emergency Response Commission.

Section 302 Emergency Planning

For the SERC and LEPC to develop emergency response plans, they must know which facilities store EHS.  It is your responsibility to contact the SERC and LEPC within 60 days of reaching or exceeding the TPQ for an EHS (500 pounds or less if specified.)  Many companies will submit a completed Tier II form prior to March 1 in order to meet this requirement stipulated in Section 302 and the reporting requirements of Section 312.