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SARA §304: Emergency Release Notification

Section 304 requires a facility to provide a notification of any release of an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS) or a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) hazardous substance in an amount equal to or greater than the reportable quantity (RQ) to the appropriate authorities.

Regulation: [40 CFR, Parts 355, Section 40]

Currently, the reportable chemicals or substances include about 800 specifically-designated and listed CERCLA hazardous substances; about 1,500 radionuclides listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act Sect. 112 are CERCLA HS; reaction products; petroleum products; mixture/trade-name products; hazardous waste; mining/mineral extraction waste; and naturally-occurring substances.


5 categories of chemicals are exempt from reporting:

  1. Any food, food/color additive, drug, or cosmetic regulated by FDA;
  2. Any substance present as a solid in any manufactured item to the extent exposure to the substance does not occur under normal conditions of use;
  3. Substances used for personal, family, or household purposes or is present in form & conc. as used by the general public;
  4. Substances used in research laboratory, hospital, or med. facility under the supervision of qualified individual; and
  5. Substances used in routine agricultural operations or fertilizer held for retail sales.

Notification exemptions:

  1. Releases which result in exposure solely on-site;
  2. Federally permitted releases;
  3. Continuous releases;
  4. Releases of certain pesticide products under FIFRA;
  5. CERCLA exempt releases - Sect 101(22);
  6. Radionuclides - naturally-occurring or related to coal handling at utility and industrial facilities;
  7. Solid metals; and
  8. Facilities that handle no hazardous chemicals.

Notification Mechanism

Details on release notification

Provide immediate notification to: 

  1. For EHS only - the local fire dept., LEPC, and Virginia Emergency Response Council (VERC) c/o Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM).
  2. For CERCLA materials - the above authorities plus the National Response Center (NRC) - operated by the National Guard.

Release notification contact information

 Content of initial notification:

  1. Chemical identification/name and if it is an EHS;
  2. Estimated quantity of release;
  3. Time and duration of release;
  4. Medium/media into which release occurred;
  5. Known/anticipated acute or chronic health risk and advise on medical attention necessary for exposed individuals;
  6. Proper precaution/evacuation to take; and
  7. Name and telephone # of person(s) to be contacted for more information.

Written follow-up notification (as soon as practical) to the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and Virginia Emergency Response Council (VERC) c/o Virginia DEQ SARA Title III Program:

  1. Name of the organization and person contacted during initial notification - including time of notification;
  2. Update of initial information;
  3. Actions taken to respond to and contain the release;
  4. Any known/anticipated acute or chronic health risk associated with the release; and
  5. Advise regarding medical attention necessary for exposed individuals.

Release notification contact information

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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