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My Watershed

Chemicals in Washington Summary Report

In December of 1984, a deadly cloud of methyl isocyanate tragically killed thousands of people in Bhopal, India.  In August of 1985, a serious accidental chemical release occurred in Institute, West Virginia.  These events raised concerns about lack of planning and preparation in response to chemical accidents.  It also led to public demand for information about toxic chemicals released "beyond the fence line" of a facility, that could endanger surrounding communities.

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, also known as SARA Title III, was created as part of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, but it is more commonly referred to as the Community Right-to-Know law or simply EPCRA.  EPCRA facilitates emergency planning and preparedness, helps to minimize the effects of potential chemical accidents, and provides the public with information about potentially dangerous chemicals in their communities. 

While EPCRA helps communities deal safely and effectively with hazardous chemicals, the law also includes a number of requirements for businesses and government.  EPCRA's primary objective is to help improve emergency planning for hazardous chemicals at the local level by:

  • Enhancing emergency response capabilities for chemical incidents.
  • Expanding emergency planning for hazardous chemical incidents.
  • Identifying storage, use, and release of hazardous chemicals in communities.
  • Promoting communication between facilities that handle hazardous chemicals, the community, and local planners.

Chapter 118-40 Washington Administrative Code (WAC) was established in 1987 and adopted the Community Right-to-Know reporting thresholds and requirements in accordance with federal Public Law 99-499.  The Governor appointed the Washington State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), which established Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) statewide.

In addition to being a member of the Washington SERC, the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) is mandated to develop and implement the state EPCRA Program.  Ecology receives reports, manages data, and distributes information on storage and releases of toxic chemicals under these regulations on behalf of the SERC.  Ecology staff also track facility compliance and provide technical and regulatory guidance to businesses, local emergency planning committees, tribal nations, and the public.

This report summarizes information about chemicals stored on site or released into the air, land, and water by some Washington State businesses.  It focuses on the two annual EPCRA reporting requirements:

  1. Tier Two - Emergency & Hazardous Chemical Inventory (Section 312) (2007).
  2. Toxics Release Inventory (Section 313) for 2007.

Some of the terms used on this site are defined here.