We explain Tier II / Community Right to Know Reporting.
Tier II Reporting, also called Community Right to Know Reporting, or Section 311/312 Reporting, is a regulation we find virtually every facility we work at needs to take seriously. Unfortunately, many don't know what it is, or why they would even need to do it. Here we discuss what Tier II CRTK Reporting is, and give some insight into whether or not you may need to do it.
Around this time of year, for practically every year since we've been in business, we tend to get a lot of phone calls from worried folks asking
"What's this Tier II or Community Right to Know Reporting?"
I'm just glad people are asking. I know finding information on this somewhat vague environmental compliance item can be tricky, confusing, and the regulations are about as clear as mud, so it's only natural that people are confused over the subject.
On a side note - It's commonly referred to as either Tier II Reporting, or CRTK Reporting, or Tier II Community Right to Know Reporting… The list kind of goes on and on, but it's all referring to the same thing.
What is Tier II / Community Right to Know Reporting?
Here's the technical jargon - It's a reporting requirement under Federal EPCRA regulations (Section 311/312, hence the name) requiring you to give government agencies and the public information on what hazardous materials are being used or stored at your facility.
These regulations came about years ago because of a serious accident in India, which resulted in a catastrophic loss of life. A release of a highly toxic chemical caused a large number of casualties and other injuries, and resulted in highly increased awareness about the potential for this happening elsewhere, including in the U.S.
When this happened, Congress snapped to and passed laws that require U.S. facilities that store or use any sort of hazardous material above certain thresholds to report on it. They required that you provide information some basic information, such as what type of material it is, what state it's in (solid, liquid, gas), how much you store, some basic chemical information, etc.
In other words, they require organizations to give the 'community' the 'right to know' what's across the road or down the street from them.
Think about it. If you were buying a house, and next door was a big, brick building, would you want to know that they were producing highly explosive fertilizer inside it? I know I would! I'd move elsewhere!
Additionally, it gives government agencies information about your facility in case of an emergency.
Imagine you were a fire fighter on your way to fight a fire. You pull up, and there are giant tanks, all unmarked, all on fire. They could be full of water, which would make your job easier. Conversely, they could be full of diesel fuel, which could make the situation extremely volatile very quickly.
These regulations are in place to let both the public, and various agencies know what's going on at your facility, so everyone can make informed decisions. The whole point of the regulation is to simply provide information.
Depending on where you're located, you'll have to submit this information to state agencies, fire departments, police departments, other emergency responders, etc. Some states automate the process and you only have to submit the information once, while others make you submit the information to everyone manually. It can get confusing, especially if you operate in multiple states.
Do I need to do Community-Right-to-Know Reporting?
Let's get this straight - Not everyone has to do it. But, you have to be darn sure you are exempt from reporting, because if you just don't do it, you'll land in a world of trouble.
You have to have certain hazardous materials in excess of certain quantities. For many materials, the threshold is over 10,000 pounds at any one time. That's key right there. This reporting is like a snapshot of your facility, unlike TRI Reporting which is cumulative for the entire year.
On a side not, not sure what TRI Reporting is? It's similar to Tier II Reporting, but not the same. Check this article out on What is Toxic Release Inventory Reporting? to learn more.
I don't need to do Tier II Community Right to Know Reporting.
We get this a lot, and most times, the person saying it is wrong.
How do you know if you have a hazardous material? Simple. Do you have an SDS for the material? Then consider it to be hazardous.
If you can honestly say there are no materials on your site that have an SDS, then you may not have to conduct reporting.
However, I doubt that's the case. You could have a 2,000-gallon diesel fuel tank on site, which would be over the 10,000 pound threshold, but your fuel supplier may not have given you an SDS for diesel fuel.
In that case, you absolutely need to report. Just because you don't have an SDS doesn't mean you're exempt. And don't bother using that as an excuse if regulators show up and ask why you haven't been reporting. It won't cut it.
Just keep in mind, certain materials have higher thresholds, while certain materials have lower thresholds. Some are as low as 10 pounds, while others are as high as 100,000 pounds. There are thousands of hazardous materials that could trigger the need to report, so unless you're absolutely 100% sure you don't have any on-site, don't write this off. I always tell folks to double and triple check, and check each and every year.
I'm not going to lie, CRTK Reporting, Tier II Community Right to Know Reporting, whatever you want to call it, can be a long, confusing, and laborious process, especially if you're new to it. The penalties for ignoring this, or screwing up this reporting can be harsh. It might cost a little bit of money and take some time to do it yourself or hire an expert to do it, but it will be far cheaper than the penalties of getting in trouble.
One last item - This reporting is due annually by March 1ST. Don't miss the deadline.