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Regulatory Information

Stop 14: Loading Station

Highlighted Topic:  Accidental Release of Chemicals

Tour Stop 14Transfer points where materials are loaded or unloaded are a common site for fugitive air emissions and/or ground spills, both of which have environmental regulatory consequences.

Managing accidental release of chemical substances and hazardous materials – as a result of accidental spills, chronic leaks, or other causes – is a major focus of environmental regulation.  Essentially all the environmental laws contain some sort of accidental release provisions that apply to various lists of hazardous substances.  These requirements go hand in hand with emergency planning requirements.

Given that you have a release, there are two key actions you will need to take: 1) initiating emergency response, including reporting the release, and 2) cleaning it up.  Below we will cover emergency response and reporting.

Your emergency response plan should include procedures both for managing the substantive hazards of a release and for initiating notification to appropriate authorities.  Among other things, you will need to determine what substances were released and in what quantities.  If releases are above reportable quantities, you will need to notify the following:

  • The National Response Center (NRC) at 1-800-424-8802.  This is the primary organization which coordinates hazardous materials response for the federal government. Report to the National Response Center within 24 hours of a release.
  • For release of CERCLA hazardous substances or EPCRA extremely hazardous substances, you must also report to designated state/local authorities (SERC and LEPC) within 24 hours.
  • For release of CAA listed air toxics, you will need to inform the public and local emergency response agencies according to your Risk Management Plan.


Other agencies might also need notification during accidental releases. Considerations include:

  • For any release, you might want to directly contact your regional EPA and state environmental agency.
  • Release of hazardous materials during transportation:  report to DOT as well as the National Response Center.
  • Releases that workers are exposed to:  report to  OSHA or other agencies according to your Process Safety Management Plan, and/or Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response plan.


Note that it is better to be comprehensive in reporting releases -- that is, you're better off reporting to all potentially relevant agencies and letting them determine applicability.

Other Regulatory Issues:

The U.S. Department of Transportation regulates all hazardous materials transport under the HMTA or Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.  The HMTA covers transport of any hazardous materials, whether chemical feedstocks, products, wastes, or even hazardous waste.  HMTA requires facilities to follow certain packaging, labeling, loading, routing, and emergency planning requirements. In addition, spills during transportation are covered by the reporting and cleanup requirements of the  HMTA.   If you are transporting RCRA hazardous waste, you will need to meet additional RCRA requirements for proper labeling and manifesting of the waste.

Finally, as with other activities, transfer and loading operations can be a source of fugitive air emissions that would need to be counted as part of your overall air source and managed.   In addition, outside loading zones need to be managed for stormwater runoff.