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EPA releases guidance on reporting CAFO air emissions

turkey barn
Farms releasing hazardous substances to air from animal wastes within any 24-hour period must notify NRC beginning Nov. 15.

On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency released guidance documents to assist farmers in reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at farms. EPA is making this information available to give farmers time to review and prepare for the reporting deadline, which is currently set for Nov. 15, 2017.

Although large feeding operations were previously exempt from filing the paperwork, a court ruled earlier this year that EPA’s 2008 rule could not exempt animal feeding operations from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA) hazardous substance reporting requirements or exempt all but the largest feeding operations from state and local reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

“EPA is working diligently to address undue regulatory burden on American farmers,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said. “While we continue to examine our options for reporting requirements for emissions from animal waste, EPA’s guidance is designed to help farmers comply with the current requirements.”

On Dec. 18, 2008, EPA published a final rule that exempted farms from reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste. A number of citizen groups challenged the validity of the final rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

On April 11, 2017, the court struck down the final rule, eliminating the reporting exemptions for farms. In response to a request from EPA, the DC Circuit extended the date by which farms must begin reporting these releases to Nov. 15, 2017.

Unless the court further delays this date, all farms (including those previously exempted) that have releases of hazardous substances to air from animal wastes equal to or greater than the reportable quantities for those hazardous substances within any 24-hour period must provide notification of such releases.

Farm owners/operators must comply with CERCLA Section 103 reporting requirements for air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at their farms. Farm owners/operators must notify the National Response Center (NRC) at 1-800-424-8802 when their facilities have air releases of hazardous substances from animal wastes that are equal to or greater than their reportable quantities within any 24-hour period.

Alternatively, owners can follow a streamlined reporting process known as “continuous release reporting.” This requires the facility owner or operator to:

·         Call NRC at 1-800-424-8802 to identify the reportable release as an “initial continuous release notification”;

·         Submit an initial written notification to the EPA regional office, and

·         One year later, submit an additional follow-up written notification to the EPA regional office.

At this time, farm owners/operators in compliance with their Animal Feeding Operation Air Compliance Agreement (70 FR 4958) are not expected to report air releases of hazardous substances from animal wastes under CERCLA and EPCRA. Per their agreement, participants must report air releases of hazardous substances equal to or exceeding the hazardous substances’ reportable quantities under CERCLA when EPA completes the "National Air Emissions Monitoring Study," EPA said.

The EPA guidance information includes links to resources that farmers can use to calculate emissions tailored to specific species of livestock. View EPA’s guidance and frequently asked questions on reporting air emissions from animal waste at https://www.epa.gov/epcra/cercla-and-epcra-reporting-requirements-air-releases-hazardous-substances-animal-waste-farms.

EPA will revise this guidance, as necessary, to reflect additional information to assist farm owners and operators to meet reporting obligations. Interested parties may submit comments or suggestions by Nov. 24, 2017, to cercla103.guidance@epa.gov.

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