Tier II Program Usage and Training

It is beyond the scope of this document to include a user guide to navigate from point to point in the program. However, from the Training and Registration web page, local government personnel can go through an on-line tutorial that guides them on how to use the system, search the chemical databases, and use the system in response to an event. This link is noted by the red arrow in the slide below.

What is Tier II reporting and who must submit these reports?

In 1986, President Reagan signed into law the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA) as a revision to federal legislation dealing with hazardous substances and toxic wastes. SARA Title III, known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), required the development of a State Emergency Response Committee (SERC) as well as Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) to manage hazardous materials preparedness at the State and county level. In addition to State and local planning requirements, EPCRA Section 312 requires facilities that use or store a hazardous chemical above a threshold quantity to annually submit their chemical inventory information to off-site officials on or before March 1st of each year. The inventory information must be submitted to the fire department having jurisdiction over the facility, the respective county LEPC, and the SERC.

The primary means of chemical inventory notification and submission is via a federally-developed form, known as a Tier II Chemical Inventory form. Tier II forms require basic facility identification information, employee contact information for both emergencies and non-emergencies, and information about the chemicals stored or used at the facility. Traditionally, facilities required to report under EPCRA have used the hardcopy Tier II form or some electronic variation as a means of complying with the notification requirements. This variance in reporting methodology makes it difficult to manage and use and is not always readily available or easily accessed at the State and local levels.

What are the benefits of using electronic submission?

The State of Tennessee has recently conducted an in-depth review of the submission process and methods and has identified that a standardized, internet-based statewide system would benefit both the users and filers of Tier II-related information. The submission of Tier II data via the internet has been effective in improving compliance and reducing cost to the regulated community in other states and their counties where electronic reporting is currently used. This electronic process also has the added benefit of providing an effective data management tool for the regulated facilities, Emergency Management officials and the first-responder community as they plan for and respond to incidents involving hazardous materials. Regulatory compliance staff can be supported by this service as well because facilities can update their information, such as chemical lists, material safety data sheets (MSDS) and contact information, on-line as circumstances within the facility change without waiting until the next required report. This will make the next year’s report easier and help the response community if an incident occurs.

What is the name of the electronic filing system?

The state is encouraging, not requiring, facilities to report Tier II information using an application called E-Plan. E-Plan is maintained by the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). E-Plan is provided free of charge to all companies, State and local planning committees, and fire service officials who have authorized access to review the information for response, planning and compliance purposes. The information submitted by facilities is stored on a secure server managed by the UTD and is only accessible with permissions granted by appropriate authorities. More than 37,000 chemical sites across all fifty states and territories that currently utilize this free web-based application.

Who will have access to the information that will be submitted?

The information that each reporting entity provides will be accessible to the same audience that is currently allowed under EPCRA. Facilities can log on and will be allowed only to submit and retrieve information as it pertains to their facility. Persons requesting access to review the information submitted by industry will do so on-line on the E-Plan web site. However, upon receipt of a request to access the system, UTD staff will contact an “authorizing authority” in the jurisdiction where the request originates to verify the appropriateness of the request to view industry submissions. This authorizing authority will either allow or deny access to individuals based on a need-to-know basis. Counties that participate in using the system will decide who in the county will serve as that authorizing authority.

Who is accepting electronic filing as the formal reporting process?

The decision to allow the use of this web-based application for compliance purposes applies only to satisfying notification of the SERC. County LEPCs and fire departments will need to decide if electronic submission is a process that they are willing to accept for compliance with Section 312. The SERC will be conducting outreach to the LEPCs to inform them of this option and assist with the implementation when an LEPC chooses to participate in the E-Plan electronic submittal process. In addition, E-Plan allows a facility the ability to print the necessary information from the on-line application if a printed copy is required by the LEPC or the local fire department. Facilities that are required to report should contact their respective LEPC and fire department in which their reportable facility resides. County LEPC contact information can be found in the list of resources at the end of this document.

How do I use this system? Is there training for this?

The E-Plan system is very user-friendly and requires little preparation time on behalf of industry to accurately and effectively submit inventory information. The E-Plan home page can be found at https://erplan.net, with the “E-Plan Online Filing” on the left side of the page. After clicking on filing Tier II information, you’ll be able to create your submission under the “Welcome to Tier 2 Submit Online” dialog box. Once here, you can create and enter your own user identification profile. Also, in the upper right corner of the webpage, you can choose a list of options from the domain entitled “Select a Tour.” This is an excellent on-line automated tutorial that will assist you in using the system to report your inventory information.

Training workshops for all potential users, including industry and government, are being considered by the SERC. More information will be announced as it becomes available. See the list of resources at the end of this document.
For additional information on the use of E-Plan in Tennessee, Tier II reporting, thresholds, training announcements, the SERC and hazardous materials program support, please see the State Emergency Management Office website at: http://www.tn.gov/tema. For reporting requirements, go to: http://www.epa.gov/oem/docs/chem/epcra.pdf
For a listing of chemicals and threshold planning and reporting requirements see the EPA list:  http://www.epa.gov/oem/docs/chem/title3_Oct_2006.pdf

This information is being provided to Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs), emergency management offices and fire coordinators to serve as program guidance in the State’s decision to accept and encourage the use of an electronic Tier II submission program for companies operating in Tennessee to comply with federal chemical inventory reporting requirements. The information below will identify key points in the State’s decision to use this system and what this means to county LEPCs and response agencies.

Fact Sheet for Industry

The fact sheet is attached for your reference and should be reviewed in conjunction with this program guidance.

A refresher on Tier II reporting and submission requirements

In 1986, President Reagan signed into law the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA) as a revision to federal legislation dealing with hazardous substances and toxic wastes. In addition to State and local planning requirements, the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) Section 312 requires facilities that use or store a hazardous chemical above a threshold quantity to annually submit their chemical inventory information to off-site officials on or before March 1st of each year. The inventory information must be submitted to the fire department having jurisdiction over the facility, the respective county LEPC, and the SERC.

Traditionally, facilities required to report under EPCRA have used the hardcopy Tier II form or some electronic variation (i.e., Tier II Submit) as a means of complying with the notification requirements. This variance in reporting methodology often makes it difficult to utilize the information for State and local planning purposes.

What are the benefits of using electronic submission? Are there other benefits?

The submission of Tier II data via the internet has been effective in improving compliance and reducing cost to the regulated community in other states and their counties where electronic reporting is currently used. This electronic process also has the added benefit of providing an effective data management tool for emergency management officials and the first-responder community as they plan for and respond to incidents involving hazardous materials. Further, facilities can update their information, such as chemical lists, material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and contact information, on-line as circumstances within the facility change which allows responders access to real-time, up-to-date information.

Who is accepting electronic filing as the formal reporting process?

It is important to note that the SERC has decided to accept electronic reporting for compliance purposes in satisfying the notification to the State. The SERC is requiring, counties to use the program. Each county LEPC and fire department should decide if electronic submission is a process that they are willing to accept for compliance with Section 312.

Local government use of the System

Counties need to fully understand the system and address several issues if they choose to accept online submissions of Tier II information. Key concerns are as follows:

For Industry: Facilities can log on to the web site, create their facility profile and password, and will be allowed only to submit and retrieve Tier II information as it pertains to their facility.

For Government: Persons requesting access to review the information submitted by industry will do so on-line and will need to identify the contact information and email of a county “authorizing authority.”

Upon receipt of an online request to access the system, online program management staff will contact the authorizing authority to verify the appropriateness of the request to view industry submissions. The contact to the authorizing authority will be done by email. Upon receipt of the email from the online program management staff, the authorizing authority will either allow or deny access to individuals based on a need-to-know basis.

Each county will need to identify an authorizing authority to approve or deny access to individuals that are requesting access to review the information submitted by industry. It is recommended that only a few persons within a county be identified as the authorizing authority for their jurisdiction. One recommendation would be to allow that authority to the LEPC coordinator, county emergency manager, the fire coordinator and a county law enforcement representative. This will help ensure that access to secured information is maintained and allow for each response discipline (i.e., fire, EMS, police) to have
an authorizer to confirm access for their respective discipline. In response to requests of inventory information under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), LEPCs should only provide the information that is being requested, if deemed appropriate, and not provide the requestor access to the system.

Variations in using the system

It is recognized that a limited number of fire service personnel in the State may not have internet access to acquire the information or may elect to not accept electronic reporting. This is of key concern as the fire service is typically the first line of defense in response to a chemical emergency. County LEPCs should discuss this issue with their county fire coordinator. If such cases exist, counties can still require facilities to provide hardcopy submissions of their Tier II forms, MSDS and site maps to the fire department having jurisdiction over the facility.

What is the name of the electronic filing system and is there a cost involved?

The Tier II reporting system is called E-Plan. E-Plan is maintained by the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The information submitted by facilities is stored on a secure server managed by the UTD and is only accessible with permissions granted by the appropriate authorities. E-Plan is provided free of charge to all First Responders who have authorized access to review the information for response, planning and life safety purposes. E-Plan requires facilities to pay a $25 fee for submission of Tier II reports.

How do I use this system? Is there training for this?

The E-Plan system is very user-friendly and requires little preparation time to accurately and effectively review inventory information. The E-Plan home page can be found at https://erplan.net, with the “EPlan Training and Registration” link on the left side of the page. After clicking on training, you can create your user profile and get an on-line tutorial that will assist you in using the system. Training workshops for all potential users, including industry and government, are being considered by the SERC. Training announcements will be disseminated as the dates become available.

Questions on this Program

To learn more about E-Plan and link to other resources, please visit the E-Plan website