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On June 13, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule revising the hazard categories currently used for hazardous chemical inventory reporting under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) Section 311 (MSDS) and Section 312 (Tier II). As stated in the statute, facilities are required to report the quantities, locations, and potential hazards of the subject chemicals to the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) or Tribal Emergency Response Commission (TERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) or Tribal Emergency Planning Committee (TEPC), and the local fire department. EPA amended the hazardous chemical reporting regulations at 40 CFR part 370 due to changes in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communications Standard (HCS). OSHA's HCS was revised to conform to the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) to ensure that chemical manufacturers and importers are classifying and labeling their chemicals appropriately. The effort also requires manufacturers and importers to develop standardized Safety Data Sheets (SDS, formerly known as "Material Safety Data Sheets").

Revisions to Hazard Categories

On March 26, 2012, OSHA published a final rule to revise the HCS due to its adoption of the GHS classification and labeling of chemicals. GHS is a standardized approach for classifying chemicals by their health, physical, and environmental effects, and for communicating this information to downstream users through use of consistent signal words, pictograms, hazard statements, etc., on labels and SDS. OSHA has revised the definition of the term "hazardous chemical" from "any chemical which is a physical or health hazard" to "any chemical which is classified as a physical or health hazard, a simple asphyxiant, combustible dust, pyrophoric gas, or hazard not otherwise classified." The new terms are being added to ensure the regulated community understands that these are covered by the revised HCS.

The following table lists the physical and health hazard categories that facilities have been using since 1987 to comply with EPCRA Sections 311 and 312.EPA modified the existing hazard categories in 40 CFR Part 370 to reflect the specific hazard classes listed in the revised OSHA HCS as shown in the table below.

EPCRA_Chart 1

EPCRA_Chart 2

EPA's reporting portal, Tier2 Submit, is being modified to include the new physical and health hazards as well as the four specifically listed terms (i.e., a simple asphyxiant, combustible dust, pyrophoric gas, or hazard not otherwise classified) that EPA adopted to incorporate OSHA's hazard definitions. For states that have their own reporting software for Section 312, EPA is providing flexibility to allow them to modify their software by January 1, 2018. Reporters should also be aware of any additional reporting and submission requirements in their state(s).

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