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SARA Title III-The Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act
SARA Title III establishes requirements regarding emergency planning and "Community Right-to-Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals for federal, state, local, and tribal governments, as well as regulated facilities. The Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public's knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. By working with facilities, state and local government can use this information to improve chemical safety and protect both public health and the environment.
What Does SARA Title III Cover?
SARA Title III has four major components:
- Emergency planning (Sections 302 & 303)
- Emergency release notification (Section 304)
- Hazardous chemical inventory (Sections 311 & 312)
- Toxic chemical release inventory (Section 313)
The chemicals covered by each of the sections are different, as are the quantities that trigger reporting.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was enacted by Congress in 1980 to clean up the nation's hazardous waste sites and to provide for emergency response to releases of hazardous substances into the environment. CERCLA is also called Superfund, and the hazardous waste sites are known as Superfund sites. In response to continuing community concern regarding hazardous materials and chemical release tragedies, a reauthorization and expansion of Superfund was signed into law in 1986. It is known as the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). Title III of SARA ("SARA Title III") is the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA).
"The SARA Title III program is committed to efficiently and effectively overseeing data collection and quality assurance of environmental information transmitted to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy pursuant to reporting requirements set forth in the federal Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (42 U.S.C. 11001 et seq.). This includes providing support to the Michigan Citizen Emergency Response Coordinating Council (Michigan's State Emergency Response Commission) on coordination of hazardous materials enforcement, response, and planning in the state of Michigan."
Maintain primary contact with the over 7000 facilities required to report under SARA Title III. This includes processing the reports and providing assistance regarding the reports to facilities as needed.
Maintain databases pursuant to sections 302, 304, 311, and 312. This includes the development and maintenance of software for facilities to submit their annual hazardous chemical inventory reports electronically.
Maintain current knowledge of the regulations promulgated pursuant to SARA Title III. Provide training as requested, hold annual workshops, provide current information to the reporting community regarding their reporting responsibilities, and answer questions pertaining to the program and regulations.
Maintain a database of the approximately 3000 facilities reporting under Section 302 of SARA Title III, and make an updated list available to the Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs). As required by SARA Title III, and according to established procedures, receive and process requests from the public for information under Section 324 of SARA Title III, and function as the designated official to serve as coordinator of information.
Provide an updated summary of the facilities reporting to the Michigan Citizen Community Emergency Response Coordinating Council at each meeting. Annually provide the Administrator of the U.S. EPA with a list of the facilities that reported under section 312 as required under SARA Title III; provide U.S. EPA with information regarding reports submitted pursuant to SARA Title III as requested.
Assist with compliance initiatives and compliance actions; as requested, perform initial compliance checks and provide document support to U.S.EPA, State Police, and the Michigan Citizen Community Emergency Response Coordinating Council; and notify the Council of facilities in noncompliance with reporting requirements.
Receive emergency notification of releases according to Section 304 of SARA Title III, and maintain a record of the required written follow-up notifications;
Maintain contact with LEPCs on reporting matters;
Provide information relating to SARA Title III to the Department of State Police upon request.
SARA Title III is a federal act that is implemented in Michigan under an Executive Order from the Governor. In accordance with the act, the Governor established a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC). The SERC has 17 commissioners appointed by the Governor and is chaired by a representative of the Michigan State Police (MSP). The MSP Emergency Management Division oversees the emergency planning requirements in SARA Title III. The vice chair is a representative of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The SARA Title III Program handles the reporting requirements in SARA Title III. The EGLE SARA Title III Program receives all reports on behalf of the SERC.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces SARA Title III. The regulations implementing SARA Title III are codified in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 350 through 372.
SARA Title III requires that the SERC establish Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs). There are 89 LEPCs in Michigan- one for each of the 83 counties, as well as LEPCs for the cities of Grand Rapids, Detroit, Livonia, Ann Arbor, Romulus and Wayne.