EPA’s 2020 Tier II Deadline is Coming – Are You Prepared?

Don’t let the 2020 Tier II reporting deadline sneak up on you! The Tier Hazardous Chemical Inventory Reports for the 2019 reporting year are due to the EPA by March 1, 2020, but it’s a good idea to begin some of your preparation now, if you haven’t already.

Mandated by Section 312 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA),) Tier II reports capture critical information about the types, quantities and locations of hazardous chemicals at a given facility. If your facility is subject to the reporting requirements, you need to complete and submit these reports annually to local fire departments, Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) and State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs).

This isn’t just a paperwork exercise. The information within the Tier II report helps local and state emergency responders prepare for chemical events that could affect the community, and provide an emergency contact for each reporting facility.

Here’s a brief review of reporting applicability and answers to some common questions about reporting.

Do I Need to Submit a Tier II Report?

Not every facility with hazardous chemicals must fill out a Tier II report; only companies storing hazardous chemicals above certain thresholds as set by the EPA are required to fill out and submit a report. EPA’s definition of a “hazardous chemical” is any chemical you are required to have a safety data sheet (SDS) for under OSHA’s HazCom standard.

To fulfill EPCRA requirements, facilities are required to submit either a Tier I or Tier II report. However, since the Tier II report includes all of the information found the on the Tier I, plus additional information, most states require use of the more comprehensive Tier II report. To see the Tier II reporting obligations for your state, visit the EPA website and click on the name of your state from the list provided.

What is the Reporting Threshold?

The amount of a chemical that triggers a reporting obligation is called the reporting threshold. For instance, most chemicals have a reporting threshold of 10,000 pounds. However, the EPA’s list of Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHSs) in Appendix A and B of 40 CFR Part 355 includes substances with lower reporting thresholds. You must report EHSs stored in quantities that exceed 500 pounds or the threshold planning quantity (TPQ), whichever is lower. Sulfuric acid is a common example of an EHS, and is reportable at only 500 pounds of storage, which is easy to exceed if you store as few as two or more large lead-acid lift truck batteries on site. Some TPQs can be as low as 1 pound, which highlights the need to have significant visibility of your chemical inventory, even at the ingredient level.

Also keep in mind that gasoline and diesel stored at retail gas facilities in underground storage tanks (USTs) meeting all EPA UST regulations have separate threshold levels of 100,000 gallons or more of diesel and 75,000 gallons or more of gasoline.

Finally, be sure to check with your state to see if they have more stringent reporting requirements. For example, Alaska requires facilities to report any quantity of certain hazard classes as identified in federal Department of Transportation (DOT) placarding regulations, including Explosives (1.1, 1.2, and 1.3), Poisons (6.1), Poison Hazard Gas (2.3), Flammable Solids (4.1, 4.2, and 4.3) and Radioactive Hazard class 7, in addition to all of the federal requirements.

Can I Electronically Submit Tier II Forms?

Tier II reporting requirements and procedures vary from state to state. While most states accept electronic or hard copy Tier II forms, some only accept forms submitted online, using state-specific submission software or the EPA’s Tier2 Submit software. Once again, be sure to check your state requirements.

Please be aware that EPA updated its Tier II forms in 2017 to align the health and physical hazard categories on the forms with those found with OSHA’s GHS-aligned HazCom Standard. Be sure to use the updated forms if you’re not filing electronically. If you’ve previously used Tier2 Submit or other state-required software and plan to use it again this year, be sure to download and use the latest version of the software.

For additional information on Tier II reporting, please download our Tier II Applicability Cheat Sheet, and check out our free webinar.

Are There Other Emergency Planning Requirements I Need to Meet?

Yes, Tier II reporting is only one specific regulatory obligation affecting establishments that meet the reporting requirements. The reality is that almost everyone has some level of emergency planning requirements.

A useful starting point is OSHA’s page “General Business Preparedness for General, Construction and Maritime Industries,” which lists OSHA’s requirements for emergency preparation across its various standards. From there, familiarize yourself with EPA’s different requirements under EPCRA – Tier II reporting is only part of those! You also can have notification requirements triggered by storage of EHSs, and reporting requirements for releases above the reportable quantity (RQ), to name just a couple. For a good overview of EPCRA requirements, consult EPA’s fact sheet.

Of course, beyond any individual regulatory requirements, emergency planning is really about identification and control of risks to your people and to the larger community. For example, when it comes to chemical safety, go beyond simple compliance to focus on having the best hazard information readily available when you need it most. Modern software-based Emergency Response Services (ERS) can make a big difference there, and save crucial time in accessing hazard information in the event of an emergency.

For more information on general emergency planning requirements, please check our free webinar.

Let VelocityEHS Help!

The latest release of VelocityEHS’ MSDSonline SDS/Chemical Management solutions contains over 350 new and improved features – including, expanded container-level inventory management tools, more robust regulatory cross-referencing features and improved reporting capabilities – that streamline Tier II obligations and help you prepare for the March 1 due date.

The enhanced release also make it easier for safety professionals to complete Tier II report forms with the updated hazard categories corresponding to those in the GHS-aligned Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom or HCS). Users can quickly generate correctly formatted Tier II forms in electronic format that can be uploaded to Tier2 Submit and sent to appropriate LEPCs and SERCs.

Looking for ways to streamline coverage of your emergency response needs? Our Emergency Response Services give you key features such as exposure support, right-to-know access to chemical hazard information, and 24/7 access to our federally and globally recognized Emergency Response Communication Call Center.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you meet your emergency planning and reporting obligations!