Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act Overview
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) establishes 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. The Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public's knowledge and access to information
on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities, working with
facilities, can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
EPCRA was passed in response to concerns regarding the environmental and safety hazards posed by the storage and
handling of toxic chemicals. These concerns were triggered by the disaster in Bhopal, India, in which more than 2,000
people suffered death or serious injury from the accidental release of methyl isocyanate. To reduce the likelihood of
such a disaster in the United States, Congress imposed requirements on both states and regulated facilities.
Key Provisions of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
Sections 301 to 303. Emergency Planning - Local governments are required to prepare chemical emergency response
plans, and to review plans at least annually. State governments are required to oversee and coordinate local planning
efforts. Facilities that maintain Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) on-site in quantities greater than corresponding
threshold planning quantities must cooperate in emergency plan preparation.
Section 304. Emergency Notification - Facilities must immediately report accidental releases of EHS chemicals and
"hazardous substances" in quantities greater than corresponding Reportable Quantities (RQs) defined under the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to state and local officials. Information about accidental
chemical releases must be available to the public. See also Continuous Release Reporting.
Sections 311 and 312. Community Right-to-Know Requirements - Facilities
manufacturing, processing, or storing designated hazardous chemicals must make Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) available to state and local officials and
local fire departments. MSDSs describe the properties and health effects of these chemicals. Facilities must also report, to state and local officials and
local fire departments, inventories of all on-site chemicals for which MSDSs exist. Information about chemical inventories at facilities and MSDSs must be
available to the public.
Section 313. Toxics Release Inventory - Facilities must complete
and submit a toxic chemical release inventory form (Form R) annually. Form R must be submitted for each of the over 600 TRI chemicals that are manufactured or
otherwise used above the applicable threshold quantities.
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