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Are evacuations and sheltering-in-place considered for Program 1 eligibility?

A facility performed a worst-case release scenario and determined that there are no public receptors within the endpoints. There are several residences located just outside the endpoint. In reviewing the five year accident history, there were several releases of a regulated substance, in which the residences were notified by the facility of the releases and informed they should shelter-in-place. Do these releases disqualify the facility from being a Program 1 facility?

No, these releases do not disqualify the facility from Program 1 eligibility. Evacuations and sheltering-in-place were not included in the eligibility for Program 1 because EPA was concerned that they could create a disincentive to report releases and might encourage sources and local emergency officials to take more chances during an event when there may be potential exposures that do not rise to the endpoint specified in this rule but would otherwise be worthy of precautionary actions by the source or by local officials.

If local emergency planners, first responders or the public have concerns about processes in Program 1 because of a past evacuation or sheltering-in-place event, then mechanisms under EPCRA could be used to gather more information from the source about its prevention program (such as EPCRA sections 302(b)(2) [designation of a facility if it does not already handle extremely hazardous substances listed under section 302] and 303(d)(3) [provision of information to the emergency planning committee]) and involve the source in emergency planning. Sources and local first responders should be discussing evacuation and sheltering-in-place criteria and decisions as part of emergency response planning (61 FR 31675-6; June 20, 1996).