Nijman Franzetti welcomes guest blogger and college student, Annie Bart, to share this important update regarding recent CSB release reporting developments. Annie completed a shadow program with the firm in June and is interested in a career as an environmental lawyer. Thanks, Annie!
Accidents happen, but when it comes to the chemical releases, it is essential to know how to respond. The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board’s (CSB) Accidental Release Reporting Rule went into effect on March 23, 2020. With the timing of the rule’s finalization overlapping with the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies may not yet be aware of the new reporting requirements or may not have integrated those requirements into their existing protocols.
In a departure from traditional EPA reporting rules, the new rule is not limited to particular chemicals and/or quantities. Rather, the rule requires an owner or operator of a stationary source (including any buildings, structures, equipment installations, or substance-emitting stationary activities belonging to the same industrial group and that are located on one or more contiguous properties under common control from which an accidental release may occur) to report any accidental release resulting in death, serious injury or substantial property damage. The rule is intended to ensure that the CSB receives rapid, accurate reports of any accidental release that meets established criteria.
In the event of a qualifying accidental release, the CSB requires a report identifying (a) the owner or operator, (b) the person making the report, (c) the location and facility identifier, (d) the approximate time of the accidental release, (e) a brief description of the accidental release, (f) an indication whether a fire, explosion, death, serious injury or property damage has occurred, (g) the materials involved in the release, including the Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers, (h) the amount of the release (if known), (i) the number of fatalities (if known), (j) the number of serious injuries (if known), (k) the estimated property damage at or outside the stationary source, (l) whether the accidental release has resulted in an evacuation order impacting members of the general public and others, and, if known, the number of persons evacuated, the approximate radius of the evacuation zone; and the type of person subject to an evacuation order.
The report must be submitted to the CSB either telephonically or by email within eight hours of the accidental release. However, the CSB finds that owners/operators who experience an accidental release should be capable of making a complete report to the CSB in less than ten minutes. Reporting time to the CSB should be even faster if the accidental release was already reported to the National Response Center (NRC). With this, all the owner/operator must do is provide the CSB with the NRC report number within 30 minutes of reporting the event to the NRC. For efficiency, a single, consolidated report on behalf of one or more parties may be submitted for a given release. The initial report may be revised or updated within 30 days of the accidental release. In addition, an owner/operator may submit a revised report within 60 additional days if the revised report could not have been submitted within the first 30 days.