The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released guidance this week on the agency’s “Accidental Release Reporting Rule,” which went into effect in March 2020. The new guidance is provided so that owners and operators of facilities involved in the production, processing, handling, or storage of chemical substances may better understand the rule and comply with the requirement to submit a report to the CSB within eight hours after an accidental release has occurred that results in a fatality, serious injury, or substantial property damage.
The CSB’s guidance document clarifies key terms found in the reporting regulation, such as what constitutes regulated substances for the reporting requirement and the threshold amounts related to property damage for which reporting is required. The guidance also addresses specific scenarios and emphasizes that if an owner or operator is unsure about whether to report a release to the CSB, they should do so, rather than risk violating the rule by failing to report. The guidance makes clear that while there is no sanction for reporting an accidental release that, in retrospect, did not have to be reported, the failure to make a required report could result in an enforcement action.
CSB Interim Executive Steve Owens said, “Our goal is to make sure that owners and operators report chemical releases to the CSB as required by law. While many companies already have been complying with the rule and submitting their required reports, this guidance should help resolve any uncertainties about the reporting requirement. If someone is unsure about what to do, they should report, rather than risk violating the rule.”
In July 2022, the CSB released its first set of data collected from the reporting rule, which includes all of the reportable events received by the CSB since the rule went into effect. The CSB’s data is comprised of 162 incidents, of which 25 resulted in fatalities. In addition, 92 of the events resulted in serious injuries, and there were 68 instances of substantial property damage.