Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act


The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 (EPCRA) was created to help communities protect public health, safety, and the environment from chemical hazards. The Act establishes requirements for federal, state and local governments, Indian tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and "Community Right-to-Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. For example, EPCRA requires facilities that use or store hazardous chemicals in certain quantities on site to report those inventories to state and local emergency planning organizations.

The Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public's knowledge and access to information on toxic chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. Government agencies and communities can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.

Key Provisions of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act

Sections 301, 302 and 303. Emergency Planning

Local governments are required to prepare chemical emergency response plans, and to review plans annually, at a minimum. State/tribal governments are required to oversee and coordinate local planning efforts. Facilities that maintain Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHSs) on-site in quantities greater than corresponding Threshold Planning Quantities (TPQs) must cooperate in emergency plan preparation. The extremely hazardous substances and their TPQs are listed in 40 CFR Part 355, Appendices A and B or by reviewing the Title III List of Lists.

Section 304. Emergency Notification

Facilities must immediately report accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances and "hazardous substances" defined under the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) in quantities equal to or greater than corresponding Reportable Quantities (RQs) to state and local officials. Information about accidental chemical releases must be available to the public. The RQs for extremely hazardous substances or EHSs are set forth in regulations developed under EPCRA (specifically 40 CFR Part 355, Appendices A & B. The RQs for CERCLA hazardous substances are set forth in regulations developed under CERCLA (specifically, 40 CFR 302.4).

Sections 311 and 312. Community Right-to-Know Requirements

Facilities manufacturing, processing, or storing hazardous chemicals defined under the Occupational Safety and Health Act and its implementing regulations must make Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), or Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), describing the properties and health effects of these chemicals must be submitted to state, tribal, and local officials and local fire departments, if certain reporting thresholds are met. Facilities must also submit and inventory of these chemicals that are stored on-site at or above their reporting thresholds to state, tribal, and local officials and local fire departments, annually, by March 1. The reporting thresholds are established in the regulations at 40 CFR 370.10. Information about chemical inventories at facilities and MSDSs must be available to the public.

Section 313. Toxics Release Inventory

Regulated facilities must complete and submit a Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting form annually for each of the more than 600 TRI-listed chemicals and chemical categories that are manufactured, processed, or otherwise used above the applicable threshold quantities.

Section 322 Trade Secrets

Facilities are allowed to withhold a specific chemical identity from the reports filed under Sections 303, 311, 312 and 313 of EPCRA if they submit a claim with substantiation (e.g., for a trade secret) to EPA.

Summary of EPCRA Requirements

The table below provides a summary of EPCRA reporting requirements. Since compliance with EPCRA is driven by determining which list your chemicals are on and determining whether thresholds are exceeded, please see the following diagram for a graphic representation of how the varying lists covered by EPCRA (and CERCLA) overlap. For a list of chemicals and associated coverage by EPCRA (and CERCLA), please visit the List of Lists.

Outline of EPCRA Reporting Requirements

Section Number

Reporting Criteria

Frequency of Reporting

Report Type

Agency Receiving Report

EPCRA Section 302

Have present onsite, at any one time, an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS) in quantity = or > Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ)

One time

State may require certain type of notification

State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC).

EPCRA Section 303

If subject to Section 302 emergency planning notification

As required

(1) Provide a name of the facility representative to be the facility emergency coordinator.

(2) Inform the LEPC of any relevant changes at the facility that affect emergency planning.

(3) Promptly provide any information to the LEPC upon request.


EPCRA Section 304,

Release of an EHS in quantity = or > RQ, OR Release of a CERCLA defined hazardous substance in quantity = or > RQ

Immediate upon knowledge of release,

Immediate: Verbal (document call); Follow-up: Written within 30 days


For releases of CERCLA hazardous substances, (40 CFR 302.4, notify the National Response Center.

EPCRA Section 311

Have present onsite, at any one time, an OSHA hazardous chemical (for which facility must prepare or maintain an MSDS or SDS) in a quantity = or > 10,000 lbs, OR have present, at any one time, an EHS in quantity = or > TPQ or 500 lbs, whichever is less

One Time, with revision if necessary

MSDS copies or list of hazardous chemicals organized by hazardous category

SERC, LEPC, Fire Department

EPCRA Section 312

Have present onsite, at any one time, an OSHA hazardous chemical (for which facility must prepare or maintain an MSDS or SDS) in a quantity = or > 10,000 lbs, OR have present, at any one time, an EHS in quantity = or > TPQ or 500 lbs, whichever is less

Annually, by March 1

Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Form(i.e., Tier I or Tier II Form)

SERC, LEPC, Fire Department

EPCRA Section 313

There are three requirements for 313 reporting: 1. employs 10 or more full-time employees, 2. is in a specific industrial sector (e.g., metal and coal mining, manufacturing, power generation) as listed in North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), and 3. manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses any listed toxic chemical in excess of an applicable threshold during the course of a calendar year. For most TRI-listed chemicals, the threshold is 25,000 pounds for manufacturing and processing, and 10,000 pounds for otherwise use. Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals and PBT chemical compound categories are listed as chemicals of special concern, with threshold ranging from 0.1 grams to 100 lbs.

Annually, by July 1

Form R, Form A Certification Statement, and Form R Schedule 1

EPA, State, Tribe

Application of EPCRA to Natural Gas Exploration, Extraction, Production and Processing

EPCRA requirements may be triggered at several points between natural gas exploration and processing. For example,

  1. During well development (drilling fluids), well stimulation (hydraulic fracturing fluids), well maintenance (scale removal fluids, corrosion inhibitors), and gas processing.

  2. Materials stored on site at a well pad may include motor oil, hydraulic oil, diesel fuel, drilling mud and hydraulic fracturing fluid, which may trigger EPCRA reporting.

  3. Chemicals necessarily involved in the use of other equipment and processes, such as compressor engines, glycol dehydrators, condensate storage tanks, equipment components, and turbines, may be subject to EPCRA as well.

  4. Release of a chemical that exceeds that chemical's specific threshold (reportable quantities or RQs).

EPCRA Sections 302, 303, 304, 311, 312

Any natural gas processing facilities handling substances covered under these sections of EPCRA must provide notifications and submit reports to state and local officials and local fire departments. ((see Summary Table for outline of requirements).

At its most basic level, the key to staying in compliance with various EPCRA requirements starts with knowing what chemicals and associated amounts are present at your site (i.e., an adequate chemical inventory).

EPCRA Section 313 (Toxics Release Inventory)

TRI reporting requirements apply to certain North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. For example, within the Oil and Gas Industry Sector, TRI Reporting is required for facilities in Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing (NAICS 324xxx), Natural Gas Extraction (NAICS 211130, only facilities that recover sulfur from natural gas), and Petroleum Bulk Stations and Terminals (NAICS 424710). See this webpage for more information on TRI-covered industry sectors. Also note that under EPCRA, “facility” means all buildings, equipment, structures, and other stationary items which are located on a single site or on contiguous or adjacent sites and which are owned or operated by the same person (or by any person which controls, is controlled by, or under common control with, such person). Thus, a facility for TRI-reporting purposes can contain sites that are in categorized within non-covered NAICS codes if the primary NAICS code for the “facility” is TRI-covered. The Reporting Forms and Instructions guidance for TRI reporting includes a section on determining a facility’s primary NAICS code.

Additionally, EPA provides TRI guidance for Petroleum Terminals and Bulk Storage Facilities.

EPCRA Section 304 and CERCLA 103 Release Reporting Requirements

Like any industrial operation, crude oil and natural gas exploration, production and processing operations are subject to release reporting requirements. In fact, some chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process (e.g., hydrochloric acid) are classified as hazardous substances under CERCLA and releases of these chemicals into the environment must be reported to very specific authorities and under short time frames. In addition to CERCLA, EPCRA Section 304 also requires reporting of releases to the environment of extremely hazardous substances. This includes releases of products used in oil and gas production that exceed reporting quantity thresholds. These chemicals may be present on site during fracturing or work‐over operations for a limited time.

When a non-permitted or accidental release to the environment (e.g., air, surface water, groundwater) of any EHSs or CERCLA HSs at or above that chemical's RQ, EPCRA Section 304 require facilities to immediately notify the following:

For any releases of CERCLA hazardous substances at or above their reportable quantities, CERCLA section 103 requires facilities to notify the National Response Center (NRC).

Under EPCRA section 304, a written follow-up must be submitted within 30 days of the release to the SERC and the LEPC.

Specifically, notification is needed in the following cases:

  • EPCRA Section 304: If an accidental release of an extremely hazardous substance (EHS) or a CERCLA hazardous substance occurs at a facility equal to or greater than its reportable quantity.

  • CERCLA Section 103: If the quantity of an accidental release of a hazardous substance is equal to or greater than its reportable quantity.

With a release meeting the above criteria, facilities must provide the following basic information under EPCRA section 304:

  • the name of the chemical,

  • whether the chemical is an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS),

  • an estimate of the quantity released,

  • the time and duration of the release,

  • the medium of release,

  • any human health risks posed by the release.

CERCLA's petroleum exclusion or other exemptions may negate the reporting requirement. The term "hazardous substance" is defined at 42 U.S.C. Section 9601(14). This broad definition could include chemicals, such as benzene, and inorganic compounds that have been found in groundwater or drinking water wells near natural gas production sites. Notably, however, the "petroleum exclusion" to this definition specifically excludes "petroleum, including crude oil and any fraction thereof [as well as] natural gas, natural gas liquids, liquefied natural gas, or synthetic gas usable for fuel (or mixtures of natural gas and such synthetic gas)." The definition of "pollutant and contaminant" contains a similar exclusion. 42 U.S.C. Section 9601(33).

While interpreting this exclusion as it applies to petroleum production, EPA concluded that hazardous substances normally found in refined petroleum fractions were excluded from CERCLA authority. However, EPA found that the exclusion did not include hazardous substances not normally found in petroleum fractions or that are found at levels which exceed those normally found in petroleum fractions.

See EPA OGC Memorandum, "Scope of the CERCLA Petroleum Exclusion under Section 101(14) and 104(a)(2)," (July 31, 1987).

Note that if there is a release of any CERCLA hazardous substances which are not covered under the petroleum exclusion, and if the RQ has been met or exceeded, then facilities must provide proper notification to the Federal, state and local authorities.



Assistance Centers
Funded by EPA through a Cooperative Agreement


About | Technical Topics | Federal Statutes & Regulations - US EPA | Federal Statutes & Regulations - Non-EPA | Emergency Response |
| EPA Resources | State/Local Resources | Other Resources | Acronyms | Search | Disclaimer | Home