The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed spill reporting regulations. According to DEP, the Regulations Concerning the Reporting of Releases reflect an effort to clarify for the regulated community when spills must be reported. The draft regulations set forth release reporting criteria, including threshold quantities and a detailed list of the types of releases that must be reported.

Section 22a-450 of the Connecticut General Statutes requires the reporting of any spill or discharge of oil or petroleum or chemical liquids or solid, liquid or gaseous products, or hazardous wastes that pose a potential threat to human health or the environment. However, section 22a-450, first enacted in 1969, does not define what constitutes a reportable release or adequately address the procedure for reporting such a release. Prior efforts to address these concerns through regulation have been unsuccessful.

Under the draft regulations, reporting obligations would be triggered (i) when the amount of reportable material released is equivalent to 10 pounds, (ii) when the quantity of reportable material is unknown but is likely equivalent to 10 pounds, (iii) for any release of certain specified materials regardless of whether the amount is over or under the 10-pound threshold, and (iv) for reportable materials released in certain locations, regardless of whether the amount is over or under the 10-pound threshold. Specified materials for which a report of a release must be made regardless of amount include, but are not limited to, friable asbestos, PCBs, and chlorinated solvents. Releases of any amount of reportable materials that occur on public water supply watershed land, in aquifer protection areas, or into a watercourse or wetland must be reported. Imminent hazards, or imminent threats of a release, observable releases from abandoned containers, and surface soil stains also trigger reporting obligations.

The draft regulations define "reportable materials" broadly as "any chemical liquid, solid, liquid or gaseous products, including but not limited to hazardous substances, hazardous waste, waste oil, used oil, petroleum constituents, asbestos, radioactive material, pesticide, prohibited pesticide, restricted use pesticide, or polychlorinated biphenyls." Persons in charge of businesses, facilities, operations, firms, clubs, institutions, residences, or loading/unloading terminals for reportable materials, as well as masters of ships or other vessels and operators of vehicles or machines, will be required to report.

Exceptions to the reporting obligations under the draft regulations are provided for certain releases of known reportable materials that are contained and removed within two hours, and for certain releases of food products and untreated domestic sewage. The draft regulations also contain exemptions for certain air emissions, water discharges, and restricted use pesticide applications already subject to other regulations, as well as for certain agricultural activities and a variety of incidental releases.

Initial reporting is to be done immediately (within one hour) by phone and include details about the identity of the reporter and the person or entity responsible for the release. The initial report should also include a description of the release, the details of which are set forth in the draft regulation slated to be R.C.S.A. § 22a-450-6(a). Then, within 30 days of the discovery of the release, a more comprehensive written report, including a verification from the person making the report, must be submitted to DEP.

DEP plans to hold an information session on September 22, 2010, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Phoenix Auditorium at its offices in Hartford. A formal public hearing to receive comments on the proposed regulations will take place on October 5, 2010, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and from 6:00 p.m. until all comments have been heard. Written comments may be submitted to DEP anytime prior to the close of the public hearing. A link to DEP's Notice of Intent to Adopt Regulations and to Hold a Public Hearing is available here.