By Chris Cleveland
CEO and Co-Founder
Understanding Tier II Reporting – When it’s Required
At its core, Tier II reporting is an essential component of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). It mandates that facilities provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state and local authorities with details about the storage, use, and release of specific hazardous chemicals. These chemicals,
when present in amounts above certain thresholds, need to be reported to the EPA or applicable state agency and/or fire department. The thresholds can vary depending on the chemical and its hazard classification, but they are designed to ensure that local communities and first responders have information about potential hazards in their vicinity. Furthermore, reporting requirements can have slight variations from one state to another, making it critical for businesses to be familiar with their state’s specific mandates.
Auto dealers often come under the purview of Tier II reporting due to the nature of chemicals they store and use. These include, but are not limited to, motor oils, fuels, brake cleaner, anti-freeze, lead-acid batteries (e.g., used car batteries, as well as those present in industrial equipment, like forklifts), and electric car batteries. To illustrate, three common examples that trigger reporting requirements are listed below:
|Hazardous Material||EPA Reporting Threshold||Common Dealer Use Case||Example Calculations Based on Average Weight|
|Lead-Acid Batteries (Sulfuric Acid)||500 pounds||Used lead-acid car batteries
|12 used car batteries x 45 lbs. = 540 lbs.
|Gasoline||10,000 pounds||New/waste gasoline||1,612 gal of new/waste gasoline = 10,000 lbs.|
|Lithium-Ion Batteries (lithium nickel/cobalt-oxide)||10,000 pounds||Electric vehicle batteries||10 new and/or used lithium ion batteries x 1,000 lbs. = 10,000 lbs.|
Given the potential environmental, health, and safety impacts of these substances, understanding and complying with Tier II requirements is crucial for dealerships.
The Case for Voluntary Reporting
Having set the stage with what Tier II reporting entails, let’s discuss the broader implications for auto dealers, especially when their chemical quantities fall below these regulatory thresholds. Should they simply operate under the radar, or is there value in adopting a more proactive approach to environmental reporting? This article aims to explore these questions, highlighting the reasons auto dealers—and indeed, facilities in other sectors—might consider voluntarily submitting Tier II reports even if not strictly mandated.
- Preparing for the Unexpected: Accidents Aren’t Always Predictable
No facility can predict every accident. While comprehensive safety measures can be in place, the unexpected can still occur. For instance, lithium-ion electric car batteries might be below reporting thresholds, but in the event of a fire, their presence becomes a crucial piece of information for first responders, as these batteries are extremely explosive and combustible. Ensuring that local emergency teams are aware of all potential hazards, regardless of their current reporting status, is essential for effective incident response.
- Quantities Fluctuate: Being Prepared for Change
It’s essential to remember that chemical quantities in facilities can fluctuate due to various operational factors. While a facility might be below reporting thresholds one year, the following year might see an increase that brings it above the threshold. By maintaining a practice of consistent reporting, facilities can avoid potential non-compliance risks and ensure they’re always in line with regulations.
- Gaining the Favor of Regulators
By taking proactive steps and voluntarily submitting reports, facilities show a commitment to transparency and good faith. This not only establishes a positive rapport with regulators but also reduces the likelihood of penalties, which range from $21,000 to $164,000 per violation, per day. Demonstrating such initiative can also lead to more favorable treatment in case of any inadvertent oversights.
- Demonstrating Leadership in Environmental Stewardship
Compliance with regulations is a given. But by voluntarily submitting Tier II reports, facilities exhibit a dedication to environmental responsibility that goes beyond just ticking boxes. It’s a statement that says, “We care about our environment, and we aren’t here to do the bare minimum.”
- Building Trust in the Community
Transparency is a currency of trust. By sharing even minor details about hazardous chemicals, a facility can foster a sense of trust and collaboration with its neighbors, local governments, and emergency response teams.
- A Smart Business Move
Risk management doesn’t just appease regulators—it can also make financial sense. Facilities that proactively manage and report on their environmental risks can often receive favorable insurance terms, reducing costs in the long run.
- Opportunities for Self-reflection
Creating a Tier II report isn’t just about paperwork. It’s a chance for a facility to review its chemical inventory, safety procedures, and overall operations. This can lead to valuable insights, process improvements, and waste reduction.
- Future-proofing Operations
Environmental regulations aren’t static. As concerns about environmental impact grow, thresholds and requirements might tighten. Facilities that have already been voluntarily reporting will find it easier to adapt to these new requirements.
- Enhancing Brand Reputation
In an age of information, brand reputation is everything. Facilities that step up, showing a commitment not just to compliance but to transparency and proactivity, will find themselves standing out in the marketplace.
The Common Hesitation: Why Auto Dealers and Others Hesitate
Traditionally, many auto dealers have shied away from voluntary reporting. This reluctance isn’t typically because of a disregard for environmental or safety concerns. Rather, it’s because of a lack of expertise or know-how. Accurate environmental reporting can be intricate and time-consuming. Even the best-intentioned dealers may struggle with understanding what needs to be reported and how to do it effectively. It’s worth noting that while this article focuses on auto dealers, the practice of voluntary reporting is quite common in various industries as a good practice for many of the reasons stated above.
ComplyAuto is the only EHS platform in the country that can truly automate environmental reporting across all 50 states. Our cutting-edge solution takes the guesswork and manual labor out of the process, making reporting more accurate and less time-consuming. By leveraging ComplyAuto, dealerships can further reduce risk, promote a culture of safety, and emphasize environmental stewardship and compliance, all while streamlining operations.
While it might seem like an added task to submit Tier II reports when not explicitly required to, the benefits of doing so—ranging from community trust, support of emergency responders, operational insights, to brand enhancement—are clear. It’s a move that says a dealership is not just about business, but about the people and the environment it operates within. For auto dealers looking to make a difference and lead in their sectors, voluntary Tier II reporting is a step in the right direction. With tools like ComplyAuto at their disposal, the task becomes not just easier, but smarter.