Picture this scenario.
You’re in your office, and you hear a large bang and yelling coming from out in your manufacturing facility. Immediately, you know something is wrong and you come out to investigate.
As you enter the facility, you see that several drums of hazardous chemical waste that you use in your manufacturing process have toppled over. They had been temporarily stored just outside of your storage area. The drums in question were clipped by a forklift working near your storage area and NOW chemical is spilling out all over the floor.
Workplace accidents like this can happen at any time, the question is, DO YOU KNOW your responsibilities in the event of chemical spill?
If your facility has an accident like this, you have a legal responsibility to report this to the appropriate governmental agencies. All significant releases or threatened releases of a hazardous material, including oil and radioactive materials, require emergency notification to government agencies.
This post will provide you detailed information on the who, what, where, when and why on your responsibilities.
Federal law mandates that the following individuals have reporting responsibilities for immediate notification of all significant spills or threatened releases including:
Notification is required regarding significant releases from:
In the event of a significant spill or threatened release of hazardous materials, immediate reporting is required. Notification to the proper authorities should be made immediately by telephone.
Notification must be given to the following agencies:
Notification must also be made to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, California State Warning Center for the following:
Notification to the National Response Center is required for all releases that equal or exceed federal reporting quantities.
Additionally, written Follow-Up Reports (Section 304) are required within 7 days if the release equals or exceeds the Federal Reportable Quantities.
Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986, the federal government has designated several hundred substances as "extremely hazardous substances" based on their acute lethal toxicity.
You can view the list of extremely hazardous substances on the EPA website.
Under the law, releases of these extremely hazardous substances trigger reporting requirements to state and local authorities, as well as the federal authorities. The owner or operator of a facility that releases an extremely hazardous substance in an amount greater than its established reportable quantities (RQ) must follow requirements on how to report to the appropriate authorities (in many cases, the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) for the location where the incident occurs.
State notification requirements for a spill or threatened release include (as a minimum):
Federal reporting requirements include:
The bottom line, in the event of an accidental spill of toxic substances, hazardous waste spill reporting is required and you must be prepared to notify the appropriate authorities. Failure to provide adequate and timely notification of a hazardous waste spill can lead to big fines.
Federal and state laws provide for administrative penalties of up to $25,000 per day for each violation of emergency notification requirements. Criminal penalties may also apply depending on the circumstances of your accident.
A properly licensed hazardous waste disposal company can help you develop a contingency plan in the event of this type of emergency.