Hazardous Substance Reporting May Affect Producers

 

Courtesy of NDSU Extension

 

Livestock producers are concerned about how federal reporting requirements for
hazardous substances could affect them.

Two environmental laws – the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation,
and Liability Act (CERCLA), often referred to as Superfund, and the Emergency
Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) – require facilities to report
releases of hazardous substances that meet or exceed a reportable quantity
within a 24-hour period.

For U.S. livestock operations, the reportable substances would include ammonia
and hydrogen sulfide, which are in the manure and urine of all livestock,
according to Mary Berg, the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s
area livestock environmental management specialist at the Carrington Research
Extension Center.

The reportable quantity for these substances is 100 pounds per day. This means
that if 100 pounds or more of these substances are released into the air in a
24-hour period, producers would have to report them.

“But no reporting is required at this time,” Berg stresses.

That’s because a federal appeals court has delayed the starting date for the
reporting requirements.

These laws are not new. Congress passed EPCRA in 1986.

“Congress recognized that hazardous materials are stored in many locations, and
knowledge about what is stored where can help all of us make better decisions
about the risks associated with living or working nearby,” Berg says. “That
knowledge also is valuable for emergency personnel who are responding to a fire
or other emergency.”

In December 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exempted most farms
from certain release reporting requirements in CERCLA and EPCRA. However, on
April 11, 2017, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals eliminated the
reporting exemptions for farms.

The EPA then asked the federal appeals court to delay the date that producers
would have to begin reporting. The EPA wanted time to develop guidance materials
to help farmers understand their reporting obligations.

On Feb. 1, the court granted the EPA’s request to postpone the necessity to
report until May 1, 2018.

EPA officials say they know that estimating releases will be challenging for
producers because no generally accepted estimating method is available. The
officials also note that emissions can’t be standardized solely on the number
and type of animals at each animal operation. For example, some operations with
fewer animals may have higher emissions than operations with greater numbers of
the same animal species.

EPA officials are working on developing methods for estimating emissions from a
wide variety of operations. However, that work will not be completed prior to
the start of the court’s mandate that producers report emissions.

“Several livestock stakeholder groups have been working together to monitor this
situation,” Berg says. “The EPA has been helpful and prompt in answering
compliance questions.”

For more information about the reporting requirements and resources that could
be helpful in estimating emissions, contact the EPA at 800-424-9346 or visit its
websites at
www.epa.gov/animalwaste, https://tinyurl.com/EPA-EPCRA-CERCLA and
https://tinyurl.com/EPCRA-CERCLAreporting.

“I’d also encourage producers to check with their state livestock or poultry
association for current guidance on reporting,” Berg says.