The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a final rule providing an administrative reporting exemption for air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at farms. However, notifications must still be made to response authorities when hazardous substances are released to the air from sources other than animal waste, such as ammonia tanks, and when hazardous substances are released to soil and water. Also, farms and other facilities are required to report any releases of hazardous substances above an EPA-established level to the Coast Guard National Response Center and state and local emergency response authorities.
The National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association issued a joint statement welcoming the EPA decision.
"We have always felt that reporting requirements under the CERCLA and EPCRA programs were never meant to address the release of naturally occurring substances that originate from the breakdown of animal waste," the poultry groups said. "We believe EPA heard our concerns and has come to a reasonable compromise that addresses the needs and requirements of the regulated community, emergency responders, and the public at large. We particularly appreciate the efforts of EPA to minimize the reporting burdens on thousands of family farms related to the CERCLA and EPCRA programs."
EPA has never initiated a response based upon a notification of a hazardous substance release to the air from animal waste at farms. A number of states and localities have also indicated that they do not expect to take response actions in these situations. Because of these findings, EPA is providing a full exemption to the reporting requirement under CERCLA and a limited exemption to the reporting requirement under EPCRA for releases of hazardous substances to the air from animal waste at farms.
The limited exemption under EPCRA resulted from EPA receiving comments on the proposed rule from state and local officials indicating that, although they did not expect to respond to notifications of air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at farms, some still wished to receive notifications from large concentrated animal feeding operations. EPA has addressed these comments by requiring large CAFOs to continue submitting emergency notification reports under EPCRA.