Frequent Questions

Release notification requirements for releases of aqueous film forming foam

Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), a substance commonly used by firefighters, contains ethanol, 2-(2-butoxyethoxy) which is categorized as a glycol ether.  Glycol ethers meet the definition of hazardous substance in CERCLA 101(14) because they are hazardous air pollutants pursuant to 112(b) of the Clean Air Act.  In 1990, the Clean Air Amendments added 47 individual hazardous air pollutants and 5 hazardous air pollutant categories, including the broad category of glycol ethers.  These hazardous air pollutants newly identified as hazardous substances automatically received a reportable quantity of one pound (CERCLA 102(b)).  On June 12, 1995, EPA published a final rule adjusting the reportable quantities for the CAA hazardous air pollutants, in particular, removing the one pound reportable quantity for the five broad generic categories (60 FR 30926).  Do the notification provisions in CERCLA 103 and EPCRA 304 still apply to releases of AFFF?

 

CERCLA 103 and EPCRA 304 notification requirements no longer apply to releases of AFFF containing ethanol, 2-(2-butoxyethoxy), unless the AFFF released contains another listed CERCLA hazardous substance found at 40 CFR 302.4 or extremely hazardous substance found at 40 CFR Part 355 Appendix A.  In the June 12, 1995, Federal Register, EPA decided not to assign reportable quantities to the additional five broad categories, but rather to identify, designate, and assign reportable quantities to certain specific substances within the categories at a later date.  As a result, releases of AFFF containing only chemicals within the glycol ethers category no longer require reporting to the National Response Center pursuant to CERCLA 103(a) or the State Emergency Response Commission and Local Emergency Planning Committee pursuant to EPCRA 304.  Owner/operators can still be held liable under CERCLA for clean-up costs or damages caused by a release of AFFF containing a glycol ether, even though the release itself is not reportable (60 FR 30926, 30933; June 12, 1995).

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