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. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of those groups.
Currently, under timelines set by the court, chicken growers will not need to start complying with CERCLA reporting requirements any earlier than May 1, 2018. The court is expected to issue an order, or mandate, enforcing its ruling on or near May 1, but until the court does that, no reporting is necessary. If you have already made the initial email or call, no additional reporting is required until the court issues its mandate.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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).
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.
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association CERCLA Video Tutorial - an 11-minute video that demonstrates how chicken growers can take the steps needed to comply with CERCLA.
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: February 9, 2018