New Release Notification Requirement to the Chemical Safety Board
There is a new release notification requirement for hazardous substances. The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is adding their name to the list of agencies who may need to be notified in the event of a release. Unfortunately, the criteria and notification methods are different for this agency.
Here is the short explanation of the CSB requirements which facility owners can use to update their emergency notification list:
While this shorthand version will make updating your ERP/EAP easy, the following information will assist facilities in understanding and adhering to this new rule.
- On December 11, 2019, the CSB published a notice allowing public inspection of the proposed rule regarding accidental release reporting.
- The CSB approved the final rule on February 21, 2020 and it was published in the Federal Register.
- The rule became effective on March 23, 2020. The new rule is located in Title 40 CFR Part 1604.
- Accidental release means an unanticipated emission of a regulated substance or other extremely hazardous substance into the ambient air from a stationary source.
- Serious injury means any injury or illness that results in death or inpatient hospitalization.
- Substantial property damage means estimated property damage at or outside the stationary source equal to or greater than $1,000,000.
- 1604.3(a) is clear: “The owner or operator of a stationary source must report … any accidental release resulting in a fatality, serious injury, or substantial property damage.” If a release from a regulated substance results in any of these circumstances, it must be reported to the CSB regardless of the amount of chemical released (i.e. the CSB does not have threshold quantities for chemicals).
- If a report has already been submitted to the National Response Center (NRC), then the only additional step required for the CSB is to provide them the NRC identification number (incident report number) within 30 minutes of submitting the report to the NRC.
- If the NRC was not notified, then the CSB must be notified within eight hours either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (202-261-7600). While it is unlikely that an accident would need to be reported to the CSB, but not to the NRC, it is possible. This might be the case, for example, if a small ammonia release resulted in someone being seriously injured. The total ammonia released would be less than 100 lbs, so it would not need to be reported to the NRC, but the CSB would need to be notified because there was a serious injury.
- The CSB report can be revised or updated within 30 days (or 60 days if there is viable reason for delay) by emailing (email@example.com) or mailing (Chemical Safety Board, 1750 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 910, Washington, DC 20006).
Information for the Report
Similar to the required information for the NRC report, a list of information is required for the CSB when making the notification (or preparing the email report). Lacking some or even most of this information should not deter facilities from making the notification immediately. It is acceptable to simply indicate the answers are unknown at this time. Here is a summary of required information:
- Names, contact information of the owner, person calling, etc.
- Location and time of the incident.
- A description of the incident.
- Injuries, deaths, property damage, evacuation, etc.
- Chemical information and quantity released.
Public Records and Failing to Report
- Reports submitted to the CSB will be available to public via the Freedom of Information Act.
- Failing to follow these mandatory reporting rules could result in administrative penalties, civil action, or criminal action.
 Extremely hazardous substance means any substance which may cause death, serious injury, or substantial property damage, including but not limited to, any “regulated substance” at or below any threshold quantity set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator under 42 U.S.C. 7412(r)(5).