Emergency Preparedness and Response

Managing Releases in a Hurricane

Federally Permitted Releases to Air

The federally permitted release exemption for reportable quantity (RQ) reporting requirements may apply to certain air emissions when such emissions are subject to a permit or control regulation issued pursuant to the Clean Air Act (CAA) Sections 111 and 112, Title I Part C, Title I Part D, or Section 110, State Implementation Plans.

CAA permit limits and control regulations usually do not control or limit such unanticipated releases as accidents or malfunctions. For that reason, such releases generally do not qualify for the CERCLA Section 101(10)(H) federally permitted release exemption.

Stationary sources subject to a CAA regulation that limits their total annual emissions should generally report their RQ releases that are caused by accidents, malfunctions, unanticipated releases, and other releases that are not part of the facility’s normal operations.


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Additionally, if a release of a hazardous substance is not subject to CAA emissions limits or other emissions controls during the start-up or shutdown of an operation, such uncontrolled release usually does not qualify for the federally permitted release exemption, and the owner/operator  would normally have to comply with CERCLA and EPCRA notification requirements.

In all cases, each facility is responsible for determining whether its releases in excess of an RQ qualify for the federally permitted notification exemption.

Continuous Releases

Continuous release reporting refers to the provisions under CERCLA Section 103 (f)(2) that allows certain facilities the qualified exemption of RQ release notification requirements. In general, a continuous release is a release that is “stable in quantity and rate” (e.g., occurs without interruption or abatement, or that is routine, anticipated, and intermittent and incidental to normal operations or treatment processes). Shut-down operations associated with hazardous weather conditions normally would be considered random, nonroutine events. Thus, RQ releases caused by hazardous weather- induced process shut-down operations typically cannot be reported as amendments/updates to prior continuous release reports.

Operate Safely and Report Timely

Owners/operators should at all times operate and maintain safe facilities. The EPA encourages all industry sectors to review their operational events during shut-down operations related to previous hazardous weather events, and make appropriate administrative/procedural, operational/process equipment, and hardware/software safety improvements.

On a continuous basis, emergency contact information should be updated and reported to Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) for local response purposes. As well, to enhance federal response effectiveness, stationary sources subject to the CAA Section 112 (r)(7) Risk Management Program should continuously update and report current emergency contact information in Section 1.8 of their Risk Management Plans. Also, owners/operators should consider the operability issues for land- based or cell-phone services during hazardous weather events. If the probability of operational failure is high, emergency contact numbers should be satellite-service based.


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Facilities that experience process shut-down-related or hazardous weather-induced releases, spills, or discharges into the environment should contact the NRC, and appropriate SERC and LEPC, immediately upon having constructive knowledge that such releases, spills, or discharges exceed applicable reportable quantities.

The NRC serves as the federal government’s point of contact for reporting all oil, chemical, radiological, and biological releases in the United States. The NRC operates continuously and can be contacted at 800-424-8802 or 202-267-2675.

The NRC notifies EPA’s response personnel of release reports. This information is critical to EPA’s ability to coordinate with SERCs and LEPCs and determine what actions are necessary, if any, to protect human health and the environment.

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