SARA Title III Fact Sheet
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)
The federal SARA Title III (Superfund Amendment Reauthorization Act) was signed into law in 1986. SARA Title III encompasses EPCRA which establishes requirements for Federal, State and local governments and industry regarding emergency planning and “Community Right-to-Know” reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. It helps communities to gain the necessary information to plan for potential chemical emergencies within their jurisdiction. It helps states, communities and facilities work together to improve chemical safety, protect the public health and the environment. “Community Right-to-Know” provisions assist the public with increasing knowledge of and gaining access to information on hazardous chemicals in the community and releases of hazardous chemicals into the environment. Also see here.
EPCRA has four major sections: Emergency Planning (Section 301-303), Emergency Release Notification (Section 304), Community Right-To-Know Reporting Requirements (Section 311-312) and Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (Section 313).
Emergency Planning requirements are designed to develop State and local governments’ emergency response and preparedness capabilities through coordination and planning, especially within the local community. A State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) has been established for Massachusetts by the governor and Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) have been established for jurisdictions in Massachusetts to achieve EPCRA goals. The Northborough Local Emergency Planning Committee serves as the EPCRA medium for the Town of Northborough. The LEPC membership minimally consists of the following EPCRA designated stakeholders: elected state and local officials, police, fire, civil defense, public health officials, environmental, hospital, and transportation officials as well as representatives of facilities subject to the emergency planning requirements, community groups, and the media.
The LEPC primarily must develop an emergency response plan for EPCRA chemicals and review that plan annually. The emergency response plan addresses available resources for preparing for and responding to a chemical incident. The SERC, LEPC and Regional Response Teams (RRT) through the National Response Team (NRT) use and review emergency plans. Federally, Congress required the National Response Team, composed of 15 Federal Agencies, with emergency response responsibilities and to publish guidance on emergency response planning.
The LEPC must also establish committee rules, give public notice of its activities, and establish procedures for handling public requests for information. The LEPC meets at least twice yearly per open meeting laws.
Emergency Notification requirements specify that facilities must immediately notify the LEPC and the SERC likely to be affected if there is a release into the environment of a hazardous substance that exceeds the reportable quantity for that substance per the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.E.P.A.) Title III List of Lists.
Community Right-to-Know Requirements mandate facilities with EPCRA chemicals to provide Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) as defined by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (U.S.O.S.H.A.) and an Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory form, called a Tier II form, to the LEPC, the SERC and the Fire Department on an established, predetermined timetable. Tier II forms are due annually by March 1.
The Public Access (Section 324) portion of EPCRA provides for public access to information gathered under this law from the LEPC and the SERC during their normal working hours. Public access pertains to MSDS, Tier II forms, Form R, toxic chemical release form follow-up notices, and the emergency plan. The LEPC publishes an annual notice in the local newspaper for the availability and location of this information.
Toxic Chemical Release Inventory requirements establish an inventory of routine toxic chemical emissions from certain facilities. Facilities subject to this reporting requirement are required to complete and submit a Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Form (Form R) annually by July 1 to the U.S.E.P.A. and state officials.
For more information please contact:
Michael Borowiec, Hazardous Materials Assistant, Northborough Local Emergency Planning Committee c/o Northborough Fire Department, 11 Pierce Street, Northborough 01532 tel. (508) 393-1537
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, SERC, 400 Worcester Road, Framingham, MA 01702-5399 tel. 508-820-2000 website then click on SERC.
EPCRA Hotline: National toll-free (outside of DC area) (800) 424-9346 or 1-800-553-7672 (TDD) Internet
Toxic Chemical Release Inventory: Internet