A public warehouse is used by several unrelated companies to store extremely hazardous substances (EHSs). For purposes of emergency planning notification, who is responsible, under EPCRA Section 302, for notifying the State Emergency Response Commission if a threshold planning quantity (TPQ) of an EHS is present at the warehouse?
The emergency planning regulations (40 CFR §355.10) state that the owner or operator of a facility subject to this section shall provide notification to the Commission that it is a facility subject to the emergency planning requirements. Thus, the owner or operator of the warehouse should make notification if an EHS is present in an amount equal to or excess of its TPQ. In the event of noncompliance, both the owner and operator may be held liable. (Note: The ownership/operatorship of the chemicals is not an issue here, but rather the ownership/operatorship of the facility at which the chemicals are present.)
The companies who rent space in the warehouse may be considered operators if they participate in the operation of the facility to any extent. For example, a company that rents space in the warehouse and physically enters the facility, stores the material in the storage space, and then leaves the facility would be considered an operator. The companies may also be considered operators (whether they physically enter the warehouse facility or not) if they control the rented space to the extent that they can exclude others from the space.
It is also the responsibility of the owner or operator of the facility to provide the name of a facility emergency coordinator to the local emergency planning committee (40 CFR §355.20). In the event of noncompliance with this regulation, all of the owners and operators of the facility are liable.