The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) are laws enforced by EPA that require entities releasing hazardous substances to notify the federal government. When the laws were first passed, EPA did not believe that the release of low levels of ammonia from animal agriculture was included in the intent of the law. However, a lawsuit was filed by several environmental groups saying animal agriculture should not be excluded, and in April 2017, the U.S. Circuit Court ruled in favor of those groups.
Currently, under the terms of court orders issued in late November 2017, chicken growers will not need to start complying with CERCLA reporting requirements until after January 22, 2018. For those that have made the initial phone call or email, you will not need to submit any written reports until 30 days after the January 22, 2018 date.
Chicken farm owners/operators must comply with CERCLA reporting requirements for air releases of ammonia from litter on their farms. CERCLA reporting is required for any grower with 20,000 or more birds, according to EPA's guidance. Under CERCLA, farms may follow a streamlined reporting process known as continuous release reporting.
After January 22, 2018, to comply with the continuous release reporting requirement, follow these steps:
- Call the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 or email the NRC at NRC-CERCLA-EPCRA-REPORT@uscg.mil to submit a report of a continuous ammonia release. Farmers who have multiple farms can list the name and location of all farms, as well as the associated name(s) of hazardous substance(s) released, in one email. The EPA is encouraging farmers to use this e-mail option to provide the NRC with their initial continuous release notification.
- Complete a written CERCLA Continuous Release Reporting Form and mail to the regional EPA office in Philadelphia within 30 days of the initial phone call or email.
- Send a follow-up written report within 30 days after the one-year anniversary of the initial written report.
- Send a follow-up written report should changes occur on the farm that would change the ammonia emitted (i.e. adding additional houses or no longer growing birds).
Previously, EPA had communicated that the date CERCLA continuous release reporting should begin would be November 15, 2017. Then, on November 22, 2017, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals issued a court order delaying the start date for farms to report to January 22, 2018. If you did successfully make an initial continuous release report between Nov. 15 and Nov. 22, you do not need to make a second phone call or email after January 22, 2018; just send the follow-up written report within 30 days of January 22.
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association CERCLA Guidance - including a phone-call script to follow for calling the National Response Center. Do not offer any more information than what is required.
EPA HQ is asking farmers to contact the following hotline for technical assistance and guidance on how to report their continuous releases: 1-800-424-9346. The call center operates Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The guidance did state that reporting under the EPCRA program is not required because "any substance to the extent it is used in routine agricultural operations, or is a fertilizer held for sale by a retailer to the ultimate customer," is excluded from the definition of "hazardous chemical" and the "handling and storage of the animal waste would also be considered a routine agricultural operation."
DPI will update this page with guidance and technical assistance. We will also be scheduling workshops to help growers complete the Continuous Release Reporting Form and estimating emissions.
Updated: November 29, 2017