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New Chemical Release Report Rule Proposed by CSB

Posted on December 17, 2019 by Roger Marks

Update (Feb. 18, 2020) 

Update: CSB has released a pre-publication copy of its Final Rule to require accidental release reporting from covered facilities. In the Final Rule, CSB adjusted the deadline for filing reports from four hours to eight hours. 

Original Post (Dec. 17, 2019) 

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to create new chemical release reporting requirements in the December 12 Federal Register.

As proposed, the rule would require owners/operators to notify CSB within four hours of any accidental release within CSB’s investigatory jurisdiction. The four-hour deadline is intended to give adequate time for facilities to respond to the release and collect information that would be pertinent to a CSB investigation.

What Info Will Facilities Report to CSB?

A report to CSB will require some basic information about the release, including:
  • Contact and location information;
  • A basic description and time of the accidental release;
  • An indication of any fire, explosion, death, serious injury, or property damage that occurred; and
  • Relevant CAS Registry Number for the chemical(s) involved.
Other information required in the report must be provided only if it is known to the owner/operator in time to include in the report. These items include:
  • The amount of the release;
  • The number of fatalities;
  • The number of serious injuries;
  • Estimated property damage;
  • Evacuation orders for the general public and others;
  • The number of people evacuated
  • Approximate radius of the evacuation zone; and
  • The “type” of individuals subject to the evacuation order employees, the public, or both)

What About Reports to the National Response Center (NRC)?

Under EPA’s EPCRA and CERCLA programs, owners/operators are required to report emergency release to the National Response Center (NRC). To avoid duplicative reporting, CSB will not require a separate report when owner/operators has submitted a notification/report to NRC as required by 40 CFR 302.6.

If a report has already been made to the NRC under 302.6, the facility must simply notify CSB of the NRC identification number associated with the release.

In the NPRM, CSB notes that between January 1, 2009 and July 15, 2019, the agency identified 1,923 chemical accidents that involved a fatality or hospitalization. Over that time, an average of 183 such accidents occurred per year.

Why is CSB Writing this Regulation?

Earlier this year, a Washington D.C. District Court ordered CSB to produce a new chemical release reporting regulation in early 2020.

The court order for CSB to create a release reporting requirement stemmed from a lawsuit filed by environmental advocate groups. The suit pointed out that, in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, Congress directed CSB to create reporting requirements concerning accidental chemical releases.

CSB published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in 2009, but never followed through to create the regulation. Instead, CSB relies on existing EPA reporting requirements and its own investigatory jurisdiction to collect information and make recommendations to improve chemical facility security and emergency preparedness.

As a result of the court’s decision, facilities may soon have one more reporting requirement to comply with following a chemical release.

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