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Re: EPCRA compliance

At 10:00 AM 3/27/97, Eric Voogt wrote:
>We are doing a compliance study for EPA's Office of Enforcement and 
>Compliance Assurance.  Part of this study concerns compliance with EPCRA 
>sections 302 emergency plan notification, 304 emergency release 
>notification, 311/312 community right-to-know and 313 toxic release 
>inventory.  We need to get a realistic picture of the state of compliance 
>with each of these sections (ie. are facilities reporting/notifying and is 
>this reported info accurate).  This could include local, regional or 
>national studies or reports on the state of compliance.  We are also 
>interested in any general information on the success of EPCRA.  If you have 
>any relevant information or contacts, please let us know.
>Thanks very much for your help,
>Eric Voogt
>Kerr & Associates
Eric --

I began consulting on and teaching about EPCRA in early 1987.  I also have
significant consulting experience on other environmental and hazardous
chemical matters.

My basic feeling is that the larger companies that are highly chemically
oriented have made a fairly honest effort at compliance, and that any
non-compliance is not from will or neglect, but merely unintentional error
in filling out some part of the paperwork or meeting some deadline.  For
such companies and plants, the most likely noncompliance is in the required
updating of information filed under 302 and 311, which I think very few
plants do conscientiously.  There may also be some failures to fully report
under 304, since some of the details of reporting are more complex than
appears at first reading of the regulations (perhaps more complex than the
regulation writer intended).  "Continuous" releases are still a problem with
304 and the CERCLA requirements.

For smaller and less chemically oriented facilities, I think that most have
done the basic 302, 311/312 and 313 reporting, and that most covered
releases are reported under 304, although without complete detail.  Unless
the plant receives a form to fill out, however, it is unlikely that the
reporting gets done under 311, 312 or 313.  In particular, many states allow
an annual update of 311/312 which is contrary to the regulation (earlier
updating may be required -- when information changes, e.g.).

More important, however, is that facilities are interpreting the 311/312
regulations in a way that results in less reporting, especially where there
is some fee attached to the report.  For example, one facility had ten
different petroleum-derived solvents, each just under the threshhold and did
not report any of them -- this is technically permissible, but is contrary
to the spirit and purpose of the regulation.  Another separately counted
each color and brand of paint, so as to avoid reporting on the total volume
of paint.  Of course, the fire fighter entering the facility does not care
very much if the solvent is 145 or 150 flashpoint, nor about the color of
the paint!

Good luck with your project.  I think the only way to truly assess the
compliance is to do a well designed sample study where facilities are
audited by a very experienced and savvy auditor who can get some cooperation
from the facility personnel (that is, one without enforcement powers)!


Ralph E. Cooper, Ph.D.
3475 Norwood, Suite N
Shaker Heights, OH 44122-4975
e-mail:	rec3@po.cwru.edu
Voice:	216-991-6837 (w/voice mail)
Fax:	216-991-6849