On Feb. 5, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) issued its long-anticipated final rule on chemical incident reporting.
A prepublication version of the rule was posted on csb.gov, stating that owners or operators of chemical facilities must report to the agency within eight (8) hours of incidental releases of hazardous chemicals that lead to death, serious injury or substantial property damage.
Such a release is defined as “an unanticipated emission of a regulated substance or other extremely hazardous substance into the ambient air from a stationary source.”
Also under the proposed rule, reporting the incident(s) to the National Response Center (NRC) might suffice. However, if no report is made to the NRC, owners and/or operators must submit a report to the CSB within four (4) hours of release.
Owners and operators must also include the following information:
- Business information such as location and ownership
- Approximate time of the release
- A brief description of the incident
- Information on if a fire, explosion, fatality, serious injury or property damage has occurred
- The name of the material(s) involved
- Whether or not the release has resulted in an evacuation order affecting members of the general public
Interim Executive Authority Kristen Kulinowski stated that “the CSB anticipates that these reports will provide the agency with key information important to the CSB in prompt deployment decisions.”
Chemical Incident Reporting Publication
Although the CSB has been around since 1998, this is its first time publishing a regulation for chemical incident reporting, as called for under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the agency to establish a final reporting rule following a lawsuit led by the Air Alliance Houston.
CSB proposed a rule with a comment period that ended on Jan. 13. Following input, CSB decided to increase the reporting time limit from four to eight. The new rule states that this will provide the owner/operator with more time to gather all the necessary information, yet CSB still acknowledges that not all information may be known within this time frame.
The agency also revised the proposed rule’s definition of “serious injury” to include “any injury or illness if it results in death or inpatient hospitalization.” This rule will go into effect 30 days after it’s published in the Federal Register.
The CSB also stated that it will disclose initial incident information once a year. This new rule can also hold employers accountable for environmentally harmful releases. Even though CSB lacks enforcement authority, the agency has the discretion to forward suspected violators to the Environmental Protection Agency administrator for appropriate enforcement action.
It’s estimated that approximately 200 incidents, annually, should be reported. A report takes about 15 minutes to complete and submit via telephone or email.
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