New Reporting Rule for Accidental Releases

Troutman Sanders LLP
Randy E. Brogdon, Carroll “Mack” W. McGuffey III and Richard L. Pepper

February 12, 2020

The Chemical Safety Board (“CSB”) recently issued a final rule that will add additional reporting obligations to certain releases, including those that previously did not require reporting. Last week, the CSB signed the pre-publication version of its final Accidental Release Reporting Rule. The Rule, which will become effective 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register, will require stationary source owners/operators to report to the CSB any “accidental release” resulting in:

  • A fatality;
  • A serious injury resulting in death or inpatient hospitalization; or
  • Estimated property damage at or outside the stationary source equal to or greater than $1 million.

Reports must be submitted within 8 hours after the release. Unlike reporting requirements under other environmental statutes, this new requirement does not require a release exceed a reportable quantity and applies to both listed and unlisted chemicals. In addition to chemicals explicitly listed by certain environmental statutes, the term “accidental release” also encompasses any other substances that “in the case of an accidental release, are known to cause or may reasonably be anticipated to cause death, injury, or serious adverse effects to human health or the environment.” In the past, the CSB and EPA have broadly interpreted this phrase to include seemingly innocuous chemicals.

In the Rule, CSB states that “any suspected violations . . . will be forwarded to the [EPA] for appropriate enforcement action.” Submitted reports will also be accessible by the public through FOIA requests, meaning that owners/operators should pay particular attention to the information included in the report. For more information on the Rule or its implications please contact Randy Brogdon, Mack McGuffey, or Rich Pepper.

This article is being provided for informational purposes only and not for the purposes of providing legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem you may have. In addition, the opinions expressed herein are the opinions of Mr.  Brogdon, Mr. McGuffey and Mr. Pepper and may not reflect the opinions of Synergy Environmental, Inc., Troutman Sanders LLP or either of those firms’ clients.

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