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CERCLA/EPCRA Reporting Requirements for Air Releases of Hazardous Substances from Animal Waste on Farms
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) provides for cleanup of America’s most dangerous hazardous emergencies, such as oil spills and chemical tank explosions. CERCLA has two primary purposes: to give the federal government necessary tools for prompt response to problems resulting from hazardous waste disposal into water and soil, and to hold polluters financially responsible for cleanup. The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) requires that parties who emit hazardous chemicals submit reports to their local emergency planning offices, thus allowing local communities to better plan for chemical emergencies.
In 2008, the EPA finalized a rule to exempt agricultural operations from reporting their low-level emissions under CERCLA, and requiring only the largest operations to report emissions under EPCRA. The EPA recognized that low-level continuous emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide from livestock are not dangerous releases that Congress intended to regulate. However, the April 2017 D.C. Circuit decision to vacate this rule will subject nearly 200,000 agricultural operations to report low-level, continuous odor emissions. Not only does this include grain-fed livestock and poultry, but pasture-based, grass-fed livestock. This standard, created during the Bush Administration and defended in court by the Obama Administration, is necessary to protect the integrity of a vital hazardous waste cleanup statute.
We are currently working with NCBA and our Senate delegation to pass legislation that would remove farms and ranches from these reporting requirements.
What this means for ranchers in Hawaii
Unfortunately, the DC Circuit decision now requires that Farmers and Ranchers now report low-level, continuous releases of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide on their operations. These reporting requirements include both cattle on pasture or in feedlots. Update: The DC Circuit Court has granted a delay in recording requirements until May 1, 2018. NCBA is still working to implement legislation that would remove CERCLA/EPCRA reporting and expect legislation to be introduced soon. Each rancher will be required to determine their own low-level emissions based on their own calculations using the Ammonia emissions estimator and with the help of the Estimator Example. If the low-level emissions calculation is estimated is above 100 lbs for your operation, you are required to report an initial continuous release notification to the National Response Center (U.S. Coast Guard) through phone or email at email@example.com. In this initial continuous release notification, include the name of the farm, general location of the farm (town and state, not a street address), and names of the hazardous substances released. Once received the NRC will issue a single identification number for your farm (CR-ERNS). Within 30 days, you'll be required to send an initial written notification to the EPA regional office. After that, a one-time first anniversary followup report to the EPA regional office is required.
More details on CERCLA/EPCRA reporting can be found at www.epa.gov/animalwaste
We will update this once we know more.