The March 1st deadline for Tier II reporting is fast approaching. Environmental managers across the U.S. are working hard to collect and review all of the relevant chemical inventory data needed.
To make your life easier, we have prepared 5 Tier II insider tips that will ensure you're doing the right thing: no shortcuts, just honest and complete reporting, the kind that first responders can rely on in emergency situations.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that these are only tips. If you want the full breakdown of everything you need to know in order to submit your Tier II report, from chemical thresholds to reporting exemptions, read our Tier II pillar page.
1. Should I report my chemicals as products?
You have the option of reporting either at the chemical level or at the product level. For example, if you have over 10,000 pounds of, say, benzene in your inventory of synthetic fibers, you can report it either as “benzene” or as the fibers.
The best way to report a hazardous chemical in a product is to report the product itself, because this is the format most useful to first responders.
During an emergency, firefighters will most likely not have time to check your Safety Data Sheets (SDS). While they might know that a certain chemical is hazardous only by looking at its name, this is never a guarantee... were you aware that benzene was flammable?
But if you report the fibers, they will know ahead of time that your stocks of fibers present a danger to them, whatever the chemical inside them, and they can respond accordingly.
The same applies to mixtures. Even though the EPA allows you to report only the portion of a mixture that is hazardous (when present in excess of 1%), it is always more practical to report the entire mixture. Unless some or all the components in the mixture are trade secrets, there really is no reason not to.
2. Should I group my Tier II products?
If you have multiple products that contain the same reportable Tier II chemical AND are similar in composition (for example, an inventory full of paints that only differ because of color additives), then you should report them as a group.
Although the products might not meet the 10,000-pound reporting threshold individually, they might exceed that limit if they are grouped together.
In the end, to a firefighter, two nearly identical products with 5,000 pounds of a chemical are the same as one larger, 10,000-pound product, in that they present the same risk.
However, when taking this approach, there is one important thing to remember about grouping:
If a single product exceeds the Tier II chemical reporting threshold, you must report it separately instead of grouping it with similar products.
3. How should I report Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS)?
If a product contains an EHS in it, you will need to obey a much lower threshold.
The reporting threshold for Extremely Hazardous Substances is 500 pounds (or 227 kg) or the Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ), whichever is lower.
This means that the reporting thresholds for EHS vary by substance. For example, Arsine has a TPQ of 100 pounds, and even just one pound of Acrolein is considered reportable.
It’s easy to make a mistake when reporting EHS if you aren’t fully aware of their unique thresholds. Not only that, but the consequences for risk planning are even greater than most chemicals… they are extremely hazardous for a reason.
4. Should I update my site plan and SDS before submitting my Tier II report?
When you submit your Tier II report, you’re sending it to three different agencies at the same time: your State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), your Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and your local fire station. All three have their own reasons for needing to be apprised of the exact location of your hazardous chemicals.
Note: If you don’t know who your LEPC is, reach out to your state's SERC contacts and ask them.
Whenever there are changes to where hazardous chemicals are stored in your facility, you must submit an updated site plan with your Tier II report. Likewise, you must submit SDS for every product with a hazardous chemical that is added to your inventory during the previous year.
Be proactive with your SDS maintenance. After all, according to GHS requirements, SDS have to be revised within three months from the moment you become aware of new information concerning a chemical’s hazards. All it takes is sending updated SDS to the agencies listed above (provided they had the original ones).
Don’t wait for your LEPC to request them from you (which will only give you a month to respond) or, worse, for a disaster to strike. When firefighters do not have a complete picture of the dangers present at your facility, it imperils their safety just as much as yours and your business’.
5. What is my state’s Tier II report tool?
Each state can choose from four different reporting software options: E-Plan, Tier II Manager, Tier2 Submit, or their own software tool. Always double-check your state’s upload requirements: if you’re not careful, you may end up having to fill your report again at the last minute.
Luckily for you, we’ve prepared an entire blog post devoted to answering this question. In it, you’ll find a helpful map that neatly displays Tier II software tool by state. Give it a quick look and you’ll know exactly where to refer to next in your quest for a flawless Tier II report.
If you are more old-fashioned, the EPA has a long list of state-specific regulations (by state) on their website.
Bonus: the most commonly ignored Tier II reporting items
The most common mistake Tier II reporters make each year is forgetting to include seemingly innocuous but actually hazardous materials, like these three items:
Batteries – Lead Acid and Lithium-ion
These batteries do not often come into play during manufacturing. Lead-acid batteries, for instance, are usually found in forklifts and are only relevant during maintenance. That said, they are kept on-site and come with an SDS attached to them, making them reportable Tier II chemicals.
As for Li-on batteries, because they have the potential to leak, spill, or break during normal use conditions and thereby cause exposure to harmful chemicals, the EPA has made them subject to Tier II reporting under EPCRA Section 312, starting this reporting year 2021.
Keep in mind the following additional details when including batteries in your Tier II report:
- Batteries used for personal, family, or household purposes satisfy the Consumer Product Exemption requirements and do not need to be reported.
- If you add the amount of sulfuric acid in each battery and the sum meets the threshold level (500 pounds or the TPQ), you must report them.
- Submitting an SDS for your batteries when complying with EPCRA Section 311 means you must report the battery, not the components, when filling out your Tier II forms. You would list the hazards associated with the battery.
Waste Generated as a Byproduct
However easy it may be to overlook and however many forms it may take, this kind of waste, in virtue of its temporary presence on-site, must be reported.
We recommend having a dedicated waste management system in place to track your waste stream inputs and outputs, given that whether a chemical is reportable varies by waste-generating process. For example, if your facility neutralizes nitric acid and, as a result, creates 10,000+ pounds of sodium nitrate as waste, you must include it in your report.
Wood dust is a tricky one. Your facility likely doesn’t keep an SDS for it, so you might think it shouldn’t be reported. However, in addition to being flammable, wood dust is classified as Particulate Matter (PM) and is therefore carcinogenic. If your site contains, say, a large silo full of wood dust, you should report it.
Now that you’re prepared to tackle the minutiae, take the time to determine the best way to calculate the maximum and average amount of chemicals in your facility, or download our Tier II eBook below and learn the ins and outs of thorough Tier II reporting.