The EPCRA emergency notification regulations require facility owners and operators to immediately report releases into the environment of extremely hazardous substances or CERCLA hazardous substances if the releases exceed specific reportable quantities (40 CFR §355.42). The notification must be provided to the appropriate State Emergency Response Commission and Local Emergency Planning Committee, except in the event of a release during transportation or from storage incident to transportation where only 911 notification is required. The EPCRA emergency notification requirements do not apply when a release generates no potential for exposure to persons outside the boundaries of a facility (40 CFR §355.31).
If there is a release from a facility onto a public roadway that runs through the facility, will that release be reportable?
A release onto a public roadway must be reported under 40 CFR §355.30, since the release may result in exposure to persons outside the boundaries of the facility, (i.e., on the public roadway). A release is defined as "any spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, discharging, injecting, escaping, leaching, dumping, or disposing into the environment" of designated substances (section 329(8)). The environment includes, "water, air and land" (section 329(2)). Therefore, a release into the environment, as defined in section 329, onto a public roadway is potentially a reportable release. There is, however, a limited exemption under EPCRA that does not require reporting of any release which results in exposure to persons solely within the boundaries of a facility (40 CFR §355.31). The definition of facility includes "all buildings, equipment, structures, and other stationary items that are located on a single site or on contiguous or adjacent sites and which are owned and operated by the same person" (40 CFR §355.61).
Since the public roadway is not owned or operated by the facility that spans it, the roadway itself is not part of the facility. As a result there is exposure to persons outside the facility. Therefore, the exemption for the reporting of releases that result in exposure to persons solely within the boundaries of a facility does not apply and the release must be reported.