It goes without saying that the first thing you need to do when you have a spill is to stop the spill and ensure the safety of your employees and the community. After you have done that, there are three things you should keep in mind:
The first thing is to determine your Federal Reportable Quantities. Determine the amount of chemical you have spilled and check to see if it has exceeded EPA’s federal reportable quantity (RQ). You can do that easily by looking up the RQ in EPA’s List of Lists. Remember that the RQ of a chemical always refers to its pure form in a mixture or compound. For example, if you spill a mixture that contains 50% of X and the RQ for X is 400 lbs, you will have to have spilled more than 800 lbs of the mixture for you to exceed the RQ. You must report any spilled amount over the RQ to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.
The second thing to remember is to check your state’s own reporting requirements. Many states have their own spill reporting requirements in addition to the Federal reporting requirement. States such as New Jersey, California, New York and Iowa(just to name a few) require reporting of all spills regardless of quantities. For example, in Californiayou must report any amount of chemical spill to the California Office of Emergency Response unless you can show that “there is a reasonable belief that there is no significant present or potential hazard to human health, the environment or property.” The onus is on you to determine if the spill was “significant” or not.
We have prepared a summary chart showing the various spill reporting requirements in all 50 states. Use it as a guide. Check out the state’s website for more details.
The third thing to remember is this. If you are not sure if you should report a spill, report it.