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CERCLA Release Notification and the Workplace Exposure Exclusion

CERCLA section 101(22) excludes from the definition of release any release solely within a workplace, with respect to a claim which such persons may assert against the employer of such persons. Does the workplace exposure exclusion apply for purposes of CERCLA release notification requirements?

The workplace exposure exclusion only applies for purposes of CERCLA liability and not for purposes of release notification. The exclusion was intended to restrict the potential scope of third-party actions for personal injuries under CERLCA; the limitation of hazardous substance exposure to persons within a workplace is not relevant in determining whether notification is appropriate. The exclusion applies only to the claims compensable through workers’ compensation. However, legislative history clearly indicates that congress did not intend to exclude all workplace releases of hazardous substances from CERCLA reporting requirements and response authorities. Thus, the need for notification must be determined by whether or not a release from a CERCLA facility or vessel enters into the environment, regardless of whether or not it occurs within a workplace. (April 4, 1985, final rule (50 FR 13456, 13462))