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Key Provisions of SARA and CERCLA

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act  (EPCRA)

  • EPCRA Section 301 Requires the establishment of an infrastructure to conduct and coordinate planning at the state and local levels. Each governor is required to appoint a State Emergency Response Commission, or SERC, which is then responsible for designating local emergency planning districts. The SERC then appoints a Local Emergency Planning Committee, or LEPC, for each district.

  • EPCRA Section 302 Specifies a list of Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHSs) and states that facilities having EHSs present in quantities exceeding the specified thresholds must notify the SERC and LEPC. To focus emergency planning efforts, this section requires EPA to publish a list of EHSs and to establish a threshold planning quantity (TPQ) for each EHS. The selection criteria for the list of EHSs are currently based on factors of acute toxicity and lethality. EPA can modify this list by adding or subtracting chemicals, and revising the TPQs.

  • EPCRA Section 303 Requires that each LEPC develop and maintain a comprehensive emergency plan for its district and outlines the required provisions for the emergency plans. LEPCs can request from a covered facility any information relevant to the planning process.

  • EPCRA Section 304 Identifies the types of releases subject to reporting requirements, as well as several exemptions from the reporting requirements (e.g., federally permitted releases, as defined in CERCLA section 101 (10); releases that remain within facility boundaries; continuous releases, as defined in CERCLA section 103; and releases resulting from the application of fertilizers or pesticides registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act). Requires facilities and transporters to report to the SERCs and LEPCs likely to be affected by the release, information about accidental releases of specified chemicals.

  • EPCRA Section 311 Requires facilities to develop and report general chemical hazard information using material safety data sheets, or "MSDS" to SERCs and LEPCs.

  • EPCRA Section 312 Requires facilities to report site-specific chemical hazard information on emergency and hazardous chemical inventory forms and to submit this information to SERCs, LEPCs, and local fire departments.

  • EPCRA Section 313 Requires that annual emissions of toxic chemicals be reported on the toxic chemical release inventory reporting form, Form R. For each toxic chemical, facilities must report the total annual releases, both routine and accidental, to all environmental media. This section also mandates that all release information be available to the general public by EPA via a computerized on-line database.

  • EPCRA Section 324 Requires that materials submitted to SERCs and LEPCs under EPCRA be made available to the public, including emergency response plans, material safety data sheets, EPCRA Section 311(a)(2) lists, chemical inventory forms, toxic chemical release forms, and follow-up emergency notices. The LEPCs are required to publish notice on the availability of these materials in local newspapers. *


Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA)



  • CERCLA Section 101 Provides an extensive list of legal definitions to be used in the statute that form the basis of the Superfund program.

  • CERCLA Section 102 Establishes the federal governments authority to designate certain substances as hazardous to the environment and public health/welfare and to determine the reportable quantity for the regulated substances. Until superseded by regulations, the RQ for any hazardous substance as defined at CERCLA section 101(14) is either: (1) a quantity of one pound; or (2) the RQ previously established under section 311(b)(4) of the Clean Water Act.

  • CERCLA Section 103 This section outlines the responsibilities of any person in charge of a vessel or an offshore or onshore facility in the event of a discharge. The person in charge must notify the National Response Center, who in turn notifies the appropriate Government agencies and the Governor of the affected state. It describes the notification procedures and the prevailing laws that govern his/her response activities.

  • CERCLA Section 104 Establishes the federal government's authority to initiate a response in the event of a discharge that poses a threat to the environment or to public health/welfare. It identifies the possible actions and limitations to the federal government in conducting a response action. his decision-making.

  • CERCLA Section 105 Establishes the National Contingency Plan as the key regulation for carrying out studies and response actions and requires revisions to reflect statutory revisions.

  • CERCLA Section 106 Provides the federal government with the authority to initiate a response action at a site beyond the actions conducted by a state. Enables the federal government, after notice to the affected state, to take other actions at the site, including issuing and enforcing administrative orders necessary to protect public health and welfare and the environment.

  • CERCLA Section 107 Establishes the strict, joint and several liability provisions under the Superfund law. Any party determined to be liable under this section is responsible for the full and total costs of response and damages stemming from a release incident that is the result of willful misconduct or willful negligence, or if the responsible party fails or refuses to provide reasonable cooperation and assistance in response activities. This section also gives the federal government the authority to initiate civil action against any responsible party that fails without sufficient cause to properly remove or remediate certain releases.

  • CERCLA/SARA Section 117 Establishes requirements for public participation during Superfund response actions, including providing adequate notice and availability of information on the federal government's decisions and plans for conducting a response action. This section also gives EPA the authority to provide federal grants to local communities to obtain technical assistance at Superfund sites.

  • CERCLA/SARA Section 120 Establishes that the Superfund law applies to the federal government to the same extent, both procedurally and substantively, as any nongovernmental entity, including the liability provisions under section 107. Also establishes that state laws concerning removal and remedial actions apply at federal facilities except when the state law applies a standard or requirement that is more stringent than the standards for non-government facilities.

  • CERCLA/SARA Section 121 Establishes general cleanup standards for the selection of remedial actions for a site, including the requirement that response actions comply with other environmental laws when they are applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements (ARARs). Establishes the preference for response actions that contain, as a principal element, the permanent and significant reduction in the volume, toxicity or mobility of the hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants. Establishes that the offsite transport and disposal of hazardous substances or contaminated materials without such treatment is the least favored alternative action where practicable treatment technologies are available.

  • CERCLA/SARA Section 122 Authorizes the President to enter into agreements with any person to perform response actions, including agreements with potentially responsible parties, using mixed funding agreements, cleanup agreements, and consent decrees. This section also authorizes the federal government to enter into covenants not to sue (discretionary covenants) under specific conditions. This section also provides other authorities and procedures for negotiating with responsible parties.

  • CERCLA/SARA Section 123 Establishes the right of any general purpose unit of local government or a political subdivision which is affected by a release or threatened release at any facility to apply to the federal government for reimbursement of temporary emergency response costs up to a maximum of $25,000 per incident.

  • CERCLA/SARA Section 126 Establishes that the treatment of the governing body of an Indian Tribe be substantially the same treatment as a State with respect to various provisions.

  • SARA Section 126 (added) Requires that the Secretary of Labor promulgate standards for the health and safety protection of employees engaged in hazardous waste operations, including the following worker protection provisions: site analysis, training, medical surveillance, protective equipment, engineering controls, maximum exposure limits, informational program, handling, new technology program, decontamination procedures, and emergency response. This section also establishes training requirements for on-site hazardous waste workers. *

*Source EPA

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Last modified: Nov, 2017

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