A business that is subject to the CalARP Program regulations and its employees respond to some releases involving regulated substances is required to implement an emergency response program for the purpose of protecting public health and the environment. An emergency response program consists of an emergency response plan; procedures for the use, inspection, testing and maintenance of emergency response equipment; employee training; and procedures to ensure the program is up-to-date.
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Governor’s Office of Emergency Services recognize that, in some cases (particularly for retailers and other small operations with few employees), it may not be appropriate for employees to conduct response operations for releases of regulated substances. At the same time, a business is responsible for ensuring effective emergency response to any releases at the facility. If the local public responders are not capable of providing such response, business owner must take steps to ensure that effective response is available (e.g., by hiring response contractors).
USEPA and Governor’s Office of Emergency Services have implemented a policy for non-responding facilities similar to that adopted by OSHA in its Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Standard (29 CFR 1910.120), which allows certain facilities to develop an emergency action plan to ensure employee safety, rather than a comprehensive emergency response plan. If the employees do not respond to accidental releases of regulated substances, business needs not comply with the emergency response plan and program requirements provided it coordinates with local response agencies to ensure that they are prepared to respond to an emergency. This helps to ensure that a community has a strategy for responding to and mitigating the threat posed by a release of a regulated substance from any facility. To do so, a business must ensure that it has set up a way to notify emergency responders when there is a need for a response. Coordination with local responders also entails the following:
- If a business has a process with a regulated toxic substance, it must be included in the community emergency response plan prepared under Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA, also known as SARA Title III) regarding a response to a potential release.
- If a business has a process with a regulated flammable it must ensure that the local fire department is capable of responding to a potential release and aware of its responsibility to do so.
Elements of an Emergency Response Program
If employees will respond to releases of regulated substances an emergency response program must be developed and shall consist of the following elements:
- An emergency response plan (ERP) that includes: Procedures for informing the public and emergency response agencies about releases and emergency planning, Documentation of proper first aid and emergency medical treatment necessary to treat human exposures, and Procedures and measures for emergency response after an accidental release
- Procedures for using, inspecting, testing, and maintaining emergency response equipment
- Training for all employees in relevant procedures
- Procedures to review and update, as appropriate, the emergency response plan to reflect changes at the facility and ensure that employees are informed of changes.
- ERP must be coordinated with the community plan developed under EPCRA. In addition, at the request of local emergency planning or response officials, any information necessary for developing and implementing the community plan must be provided.
An emergency response plan is only one element of the integrated effort that makes up an emergency response program. Although the plan outlines the actions and equipment necessary to respond effectively, training, program evaluation, equipment maintenance, as well as coordination with local agencies must occur regularly if a plan is to be useful in an emergency.
Finally, businesses are responsible for ensuring that any release from a process can be handled effectively. If business plans to rely on local responders for some or all of the response, it must determine that those responders have both the equipment and training needed to do so. If they do not, business must take steps to meet any needs, either by developing its own response capabilities, developing mutual aid agreements with other facilities, hiring response contractors, or providing support to local responders so they can acquire equipment or training.