New spill reporting regulations from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) are now in effect. The regulations (RCSA §§ 22a-450) require reporting to DEEP for a broad spectrum of spills – including many which would likely be considered minor or of little concern by the regulated community.
DEEP’s release reporting regulations have been many years in the making. The last attempt was in 2009, when proposed regulations were not finalized due to controversy over whether the regulations should include both new and historic spills. In 2021, revised draft spill reporting regulations were presented to the legislature’s Legislative Regulation Review Committee. The Committee rejected the draft because it felt that the regulatory language was unclear and subjective, which was inconsistent with a primary goal of providing clear thresholds for reporting and certainty of interpretation for the regulated community. The DEEP revised the regulations in response to the comments, and the finalized regulations went into effect in March 2022. Notably, the 2022 regulations address only new spills, and do not create reporting requirements for past releases.
The regulations cast a wide net and impose reporting requirements for many types of spills. DEEP’s commentary on the regulations indicates that this approach was intended to allow DEEP’s emergency response staff to evaluate and intervene in spills of nearly any significance, with a goal of reducing or eliminating the need for long-term actions.
The regulations cover “releases” of “reportable materials”. “Release” is defined in the regulations as “…the discharge, spillage, uncontrolled loss, seepage or filtration, including but not limited to, any spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, injecting, escaping, leaching, dumping or disposing, of a reportable material into the environment, a secondary containment system or into a building or structure, whether intended, unintended or by accident, negligence or otherwise.” Notably, this definition of “release” includes spills contained inside buildings and inside secondary containment structures.
“Reportable materials” is defined in the regulations as “any of the following: a chemical liquid, a solid, liquid or gaseous product, hazardous waste, or oil or petroleum, in any form, i.e., solid, liquid, semi-solid or gaseous…” but ”does not include radioactive materials, potable water or water vapor.” Note that the definition is so vague and all-inclusive that potable water must be specifically excluded.
Releases Requiring Reporting
There are three general categories of reportable conditions:
Category 1: Report Releases of Any Quantity.
- Release to a waterway, wetland, storm sewer, sanitary sewer or catch basin;
- Release from an underground storage tank (UST);
- Release of PCB, halogenated solvent, PFAS, and certain pesticides;
- Release of unknown quantity or substance;
- Release or imminent release posing a risk or potential risk to human health, public safety, or the environment;
- Release containing 30% or more of a material in Appendix A to the regulations, which is a list of approximately 300 chemicals.
Category 2: Oil and Petroleum.
Releases of five gallons oil or more in a period of 24 hours or less must be reported.
Category 3: Reportable Materials Other than Oil and Petroleum.
Releases of 10 pounds or 1.5 gallons or more in a period of 24 hours or less must be reported.
For Categories 2 and 3, releases less than five gallons of oil/petroleum or 10 pounds/1.5 gallons of other reportable materials are exempt from reporting if the spill is mitigated by properly trained personnel within two hours of discovery, unless reporting is required under Category 1. Spills of less than 100 gallons trapped in secondary containment do not require reporting.
Certain releases are exempted from the reporting requirements – including sheens associated with operation of motor vehicles, releases from laboratory hoods, proper use of agricultural chemicals, and, under certain circumstances, releases of less than 100 gallons of domestic sewage.
Releases must be reported to DEEP by telephone generally within one hour of the discovery of the release; although under certain circumstances up to two hours is allowed. Information that must be provided at notification includes contact information for the notifying party; the time, date and estimated duration of the release; when the release was discovered; the status of the release (ongoing or terminated); the source and the cause of the release; the identify of released substance(s), including Chemical Abstract Service (CAS number); estimate of the quantity released and any amount recovered; location aids including street address, stream names, etc.; potential impacts and identification of sensitive receptors; statement of whether surface water or drain/sewer systems are affected; and identification of any injuries. The notifying party must also describe the actions taken to respond to the release; any evacuation or safety precautions employed; and the contact information for the company hired to respond to the release.
No subsequent reporting under the new regulations is required unless a Follow-Up Report is specifically requested by the DEEP. If requested, the written Follow-Up Report should reiterate and update the information provided in the initial notification; describe the activities taken, including investigation/sampling results and management of remediation wastes; and indicate if additional work is planned. The regulations do not apply a time limit to the agency’s right to request a Follow-Up Report.
Relation to Other Regulations
The new spill reporting regulations are a stand-alone program. Reporting (or not reporting) in compliance with the regulations has no effect on any other obligations associated with the spill – including any federal reporting requirements; Significant Environmental Hazard reporting, etc.; or Connecticut’s already-existing laws regarding liability for spill cleanup.
The regulated community should become familiar with the requirements of RCSA §§ 22a-450. It remains to be seen whether the new regulation will achieve the goal of providing clear thresholds for reporting and certainty of interpretation for the regulatory community.
HETI…Here to Help
HETI’s staff continually reviews new and proposed changes to regulations and standards to make sure we have current knowledge of compliance and environmental issues. We have extensive experience in supporting our clients through a comprehensive range of regulatory support and other services. So whether there’s a need for emergency response services or cause-and origin investigation…remedial solutions or state/federal regulatory support…HETI’s environmental professionals are ready to help.