February 6, 2020

CSB Approves Final Rule on Accidental Chemical Release Reporting

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has approved a final rule that will require business owners or operators to submit accidental release reports to CSB within eight hours of a release. The final rule extends by four hours the agency’s proposed reporting deadline of four hours due to several comments CSB received that were generally critical of the shorter timeframe. The rule is intended to ensure that the agency receives quick and accurate reports of accidental releases of regulated substances or other extremely hazardous substances. A pre-publication version of the rule (PDF) states that the reports will only require information that is already known or should be available to an owner or operator soon after an accidental release. In addition, the required information will be limited in scope to information required for the agency to make informed decisions regarding its jurisdiction, interagency coordination, and deployment.

In the pre-publication text of the rule, CSB describes the importance of its investigators arriving at accident sites within 24 hours following a release.

“CSB has learned over its history that prompt deployment…helps satisfy several legitimate objectives: preservation of key physical evidence and obtaining witness testimony while the information regarding the release is fresh,” the agency says. “Prompt arrival of CSB investigators also allows them to gain an understanding of what changes may have been made to an accident scene during emergency response.”

In a statement, CSB Interim Executive Kristen Kulinowski said that the agency intends to work cooperatively with stakeholders to ensure that affected parties understand and comply with the rule. CSB anticipates that the official version of the final rule will be published next week in the Federal Register.