Owners and operators of oil and gas well sites regulated by ODNR, which are subject to the Division of Oil and Gas Resource Management new release/spill incident notification requirements are no longer required to make a separate call to Ohio EPA’s Emergency Response hotline. ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources and Ohio EPA are coordinating efforts and the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management will be sharing the incident notification information with Ohio EPA.
Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler has officially designated the Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management as his state agency designee for the immediate verbal notifications for reportable releases/spills from activities regulated under Ohio Revised Code Section 1509, which are subject to the incident reporting requirements adopted under division 1501:9 of the Administrative Code.
Because of the federal requirements of EPCRA and Ohio Revised Code Section 3750.06(C), this designation does not eliminate the requirement for the initial notification of reportable releases/spills to be made to the LEPC emergency coordinator or the local fire department, or the written 30-day follow-up report to be submitted to the LEPC.
The owner or operator of an oil and gas well site regulated by ORC 1509 Division of Oil and Gas Resource Management-Oil and Gas) must make the verbal notification within 30 minutes upon having knowledge or discovery of a release/spill of hazardous substance, extremely hazardous substance, or discharge of oil that exceeded the reportable quantity to:
- the LEPC emergency coordinator of each emergency planning district that contains an area likely to be affected by the release;
- the fire department having jurisdiction where the release occurred; and
- the Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management
The written follow-up emergency notice of the reportable release from a facility is required to be submitted within 30 days to the local emergency planning committee of the district in which the release occurred and to the Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management.
Responsible parties under this new initiative shall maintain compliance with the release/spill reporting requirements under both the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3750, Emergency Planning.
SERC Audit Disclosure Response Protocol
Ohio’s amended audit privilege and immunity law became effective on Sept. 30, 1998. The purpose of this law is to enhance protection of human health and the environment by encouraging regulated entities to voluntarily discover, promptly disclose and expeditiously correct violations of environmental laws. Under the law, the owner or operator of a facility may perform a voluntary self-evaluation (audit) designed to improve compliance or identify, correct, or prevent noncompliance with environmental laws. In return for performing a proper audit, the owner or operator can qualify for immunity from the gravity portion of any civil penalty for the violations disclosed. Also, the audit and documents used to conduct the audit are privileged.
Because a company ultimately has the burden of proving in court that it is entitled to immunity, it is not the SERC’s role or even ability to grant or deny immunity. Rather, it is ultimately a question for a court to answer. Accordingly, in our communication, we will only be issuing an opinion as to whether the submittal contains all of the information required by ORC 3745.72.
ORC 3745.72(C) requires that all disclosures must be in writing, dated, and hand delivered or sent by certified mail to the director of the state agency that has jurisdiction over the alleged violation. For violations, disclosures must be sent to the Director of Ohio EPA and the Director of Department of Public Safety who serve as the SERC Co-Chairs. The disclosure must contain all of the information identified in the protocol document.
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
Emergency Order (Docket No. DOT-OST-2014-0067)
The U.S. Department of Transportation issued an Emergency Order on May 7, 2014, requiring all railroads operating trains carrying more than 1 million gallons of Bakken crude oil, or approximately 35 tank cars, to notify State Emergency Response Commissions about the expected weekly train movements through their respective state.
The notification must include estimated volumes of Bakken crude oil being transported, the frequency of expected train traffic and the route through which Bakken crude oil will be transported. In addition, the order requires each railroad to provide contact information for at least one individual responsible for responding to emergency responders about the shipments.
On June 11, 2014, Ohio's State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) passed a resolution at its meeting designating the State of Ohio Fusion Center as the repository for notifications and revisions/updates to the notifications. The Ohio Fusion Center will maintain the notifications and distribute the notifications to state and local emergency responders. A copy of the resolution can be found here: 2014 SERC USDOT Emergency Order Resolution.
The SERC is transferring the notifications received from any rail carrier to the Ohio Fusion Center.
Notifications and revisions/updates should be submitted to the Ohio Fusion Center at the following address:
Ohio Homeland Security
c/o Strategic Analysis and Information Center Commander
1970 W. Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43223
Effective Oct. 9, 2013, the Ohio SERC voted to rescind using the E-Plan reporting system and it is no longer a reporting option for the statewide regulated facilities.
The U.S. Department of Transportation- Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a final rule on February 28, 2019, requiring railroads defined as High Hazard Flammable Liquid Trains (HHFT) to make notifications to states) regarding their transportation of these Class 3 flammables.
PHMSA defines HHFT as trains that have a continuous block of twenty (20) or more tank cars loaded with a flammable liquid or thirty-five (35) or more cars loaded with a flammable liquid dispersed through a train, to notify State Emergency Response Commissions about the expected weekly train movements through their respective state.
The notification must include at a minimum:
- a reasonable estimate of the number of HHFTs that the railroad expects to operate each week through each county within the state;
- the routes over which the affected trains will be transported;
- a description of the material being transported with all applicable emergency response information; and
- At least one point of contact at the railroad (including name or email address, title, phone number, and address) for the SERC and relevant emergency responders related to the railroad’s transportation of affected trains.
Updates to the notifications are required for changes in volume greater than twenty-five (25) percent.
On August 14, 2019, the Ohio State Emergency Response Commission passed a resolution at its meeting designating the Ohio Homeland Security within the Ohio Department of Public Safety as the repository for these HHFT notifications and revisions/updates to the notifications. Ohio Homeland Security will maintain the notifications and has an established mechanism in place to distribute the notifications to state and local emergency responders. A copy of the resolution can be found here.
Notifications and revisions/updates should be submitted to the Ohio Homeland Security at the following address:
Ohio Homeland Security
Critical Infrastructure Section
1970 West Broad Street
Columbus, Ohio 43223
Subject: High-Hazard Flammable Train (HHFT) Shipments