The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) are laws enforced by EPA. 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.
On Oct. 26, 2017, EPA released guidance documents, but still acknowledged there was no definitive way to estimate emissions from animal agriculture, as it is variable.
On November 1, 2017, the EPA filed a petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals asking for an extension for growers to begin reporting. The current date of reporting would be November 15, 2017. The extension, if granted, would move the deadline to January 17, 2018.
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."
CERCLA reporting is required for any grower with 20,000 or more birds (EPA's guidance). Previously, EPA communicated that the date CERCLA reporting should begin would be November 15, 2017. On November 16, however, the EPA provided new guidance to farmers, saying that farms with continuous releases do not have to submit their initial continuous release notification until the DC Circuit Court of Appeals issues its order, or mandate, enforcing the Court's opinion of April 11, 2017. No reporting is necessary until the mandate is issued, according to the EPA.
If and when the court mandate is issued (DPI will update this page when that happens), to comply with the 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).
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.
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.
Last updated: Nov. 16, 2017