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CERCLA notification requirement delayed

December 17, 2019

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The EPA announced that farms with continuous hazardous substance releases as defined by Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) do not have to submit their initial continuous release notification until the DC Circuit Court of Appeals issues its order, or mandate, enforcing the Court’s opinion from April 11, 2017. While it appears the reports will be required some time, producers may wait to file after the Court has entered its order, at which time we can expect EPA to provide a filing “deadline.” We also expect that the EPA will  utilize this additional time to bring more clarity to the emissions data and calculations producers should rely upon for determining whether they are subject to CERCLA air emissions reporting.The law requires entities to report releases of hazardous substances above a certain threshold that occur within a 24-hour period. Farms have historically been exempt from most reporting under CERCLA, but in the spring of 2017 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the rule that allowed reporting exemptions for farms. Farmers and operators, especially of sizeable animal operations that are likely to have larger air emissions, need to understand the reporting responsibilities. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published interim guidance to assist farms with the new compliance obligations. The following summarizes the agency’s guidance.What substances to reportThe EPA specifically names ammonia and hydrogen sulfide as two hazardous substances commonly associated with animal wastes that will require emissions reporting. Each substance has a reportable quantity of 100 pounds. If a farm releases 100 pounds or more of either substance to the air within a 24-hour period, the owner or operator must notify the National Response Center. A complete list of hazardous substances and their corresponding reportable quantities is here.Note that farmers do not have to report emissions from the application of manure, and fertilizers to crops or the handling, storage and application of pesticides registered under federal law. However, a farmer must report any spills or accidents involving these substances when they exceed the reportable quantity.How to reportUnder CERCLA, farm owners and operators have two compliance options — to report each release or to follow the continuous release reporting process:• For an individual release that meets or exceeds the reportable quantity for the hazardous substance, an owner or operator must immediately notify the National Response Center (NRC) by phone at 1-800-424-8802. • Continuous release reporting allows the owner or operator to file an “initial continuous release notification” to the NRC and the EPA Regional Office for releases that will be continuous and stable in quantity and rate. Essentially, this puts the authorities “continuously” on notice that there will be emissions from the operation within a certain estimated range. If the farm has a statistically significant increase such as a change in the number of animals on the farm or a significant change in the release information, the farm must notify the NRC immediately. Otherwise, the farm must file a one year anniversary report with the EPA Regional Office to verify and update the emissions information and must annually review emissions from the farm.  No reporting required under EPCRAThe litigation that led to CERCLA reporting also challenged the farm exemption from reporting for the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). EPRCRA section 304 requires facilities at which a hazardous chemical is produced, used or stored to report releases of reportable quantities from the chemicals. However, EPA explains in a statement issued on October 25, 2017 that the statute excludes substances used in “routine agricultural operations” from the definition of hazardous chemicals. EPCRA doesn’t define “routine agricultural operations,” so EPA states that it interprets the term to include regular and routine operations at farms, animal feeding operations, nurseries, other horticultural operations and aquaculture and a few examples of substances used in routine operations include animal waste stored on a farm and used as fertilizer, paint used for maintaining farm equipment, fuel used to operate machine or heat buildings and chemicals used for growing and breeding fish and plans for aquaculture. As a result of this EPA interpretation, most farms and operations do not have to report emissions under EPCRA. More information on EPA’s interpretation of EPCRA reporting for farms is here.Note that the EPA is seeking comments and suggestions on the resources the agency is providing or should provide to assist farm owners and operators with meeting the new reporting obligations. Those who wish to comment should do so by November 24, 2017 by sending an e-mail to [email protected] more information regarding the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) section 103, visit EPA release: CERCLA and EPCRA Reporting Requirements for Air Releases of Hazardous Substances from Animal Waste at Farmslast_img

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