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EPA takes no action on hazardous substances spill prevention

Agency concludes additional requirements are unnecessary, burdensome

Posted June 25, 2018

EPA will not create any new spill prevention requirements for hazardous substances in storage under Clean Water Act (CWA) section 311. Section 311 directs the President to issue regulations preventing discharges of oil and hazardous substances from onshore and offshore facilities and to contain such discharges.

In 2015, environmental groups sued EPA for failing to comply with the requirements under section 311 to issue regulations to prevent and contain CWA hazardous substance discharges. On February 16, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a consent decree that EPA must sign a proposed rulemaking related to issuing hazardous substances regulations and take final action after a notice and comment period.

On June 15, 2018, Scott Pruitt signed a proposed action that does not add new regulatory requirements. The Agency said, “EPA is proposing to conclude that additional regulatory requirements for CWA hazardous substances are unnecessary and would impose undue burden on approximately 100,000 facilities in the U.S. already subject to the existing framework.”

EPA said it held three public meetings, convened work groups, and collected public comments on the topic, ultimately concluding that the current requirements for hazardous substances discharges prevention sufficiently protect human health and the environment. “Currently, EPA believes that analysis of these outreach efforts and data tallying the frequency and impact of reported discharges demonstrate that the existing framework prevents hazardous spills and other adverse outcomes.”

The Agency will consider all relevant comments received for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

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