EPA Marks 25th Anniversary of EPCRA

This year marks 25 years since the passage of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The act was passed in 1986 as a part of the reauthorization for Superfund. EPCRA has played a significant role in protecting people’s health and the environment by providing communities and emergency planners with area-specific information on toxic chemical releases.

“This law is important to safeguarding our communities from chemical emergencies,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Twenty-five years after EPCRA was made into law, EPA continues to improve and advance our community right-to-know programs, so that we can ensure the best possible chemical safety protection for every community across the country.”

Public demand for information about chemical releases skyrocketed in the mid-1980s after a deadly cloud of highly toxic pesticide killed thousands of people in Bhopal, India. Shortly thereafter, a serious chemical release at a plant in West Virginia hospitalized 100 people. These events led to the implementation of EPCRA in 1986.

Under EPCRA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collects information on toxic releases through the Toxic Release Inventory program (TRI), a public database containing information regarding the industrial releases of over 600 toxic chemicals from more than 20,000 facilities throughout the nation. TRI was the first publicly available database in the world that contained information on pollutant releases. Many other countries have since followed EPA’s lead, recognizing the value of making toxic chemical data readily available to the public. TRI information enables every American to make informed decisions on the consequences of toxic releases and empowers communities to take action.

EPCRA has made the lives of every American safer from toxic emergencies by establishing emergency planning groups at the state, tribal, and local levels. EPCRA brings together emergency responders from fire and police departments, medical personnel, emergency planners, elected officials, environmental group representatives and local citizens to develop plans to respond to chemical emergencies.

More information on EPCRA and the 25th anniversary:  http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/epcra/epcra25.htm

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