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Please note: This summary is provided to help you understand the regulations. Consult the references provided for links to the full text of the regulations.
To report an oil or chemical spill, call the
National Response Center at 800-424-8802

Hazardous SpillReporting Spills

Road Rail Air Water

This section provides information on reporting spills and releases of oil and hazardous substances. It covers both Federal and state requirements.



Who is covered by the regulations?

Any person, company or organization responsible for a release or spill.

What is the purpose of the regulations?

To assure that any oil or hazardous substance spill is properly addressed in a manner that prevents further damage to the environment and human health.

Federal Requirements

Any person or organization responsible for a release or spill is required to notify the federal National Response Center (NRC) (call 800-424-8802) when the amount reaches a federally-determined limit, as described below. Separate federal reporting requirements exist for:

These requirements are discussed below.

Oil Spills. EPA has established requirements to report spills to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. EPA has determined that discharges of oil in quantities that may be harmful to public health or the environment include those that:

  • Violate applicable water quality standards;
  • Cause a film or "sheen" upon, or discoloration of the surface of the water or adjoining shorelines; or
  • Cause a sludge or emulsion to be deposited beneath the surface of the water or upon adjoining shorelines.

Any person in charge of vessels or facilities that discharge oil in such quantities is required to report the spill to the federal government. EPA provides several exemptions from the oil spill reporting requirements.

The requirement for reporting oil spills stems from the Discharge of Oil Regulation, known as the "sheen rule." Under this regulation, oil spill reporting does not depend on the specific amount of oil spilled, but on the presence of a visible sheen created by the spilled oil. Reporting an oil discharges may also be required under the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule.

RQ Calculator
Use this calculator to look up the Reportable Quantity (RQ) of a hazardous substance or to evaluate whether a release to the environment must be reported to the National Response Center.

Hazardous Substances. For releases of hazardous substances, the federal government has established Superfund Reportable Quantities (RQs). If a hazardous substance is released to the environment in an amount that equals or exceeds its RQ, the release must be reported to federal authorities, unless certain reporting exemptions for hazardous substance releases also apply.

Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986, the federal government has designated several hundred substances as "extremely hazardous substances" based on their acute lethal toxicity. Under the law, releases of these extremely hazardous substances trigger reporting requirements to state and local authorities, as well as the federal authorities. The owner or operator of a facility that releases an extremely hazardous substance in an amount greater than its established RQ must follow requirements on how to report to the appropriate authorities (in many cases, the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)) for the location where the incident occurs.

Transportation Spills. The Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR Parts 171-180) require that certain types of incidents be reported to the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), a unit of US DOT:

  • 49 CFR 171.15 of the HMR requires an immediate telephonic report (within 12 hours) of certain types of hazardous materials incidents and a follow-up written report (DOT Form F 5800.1). These incidents include: death, injury, public evacuation and similar catastrophes (see 49 CFR 171.15(b) for full list).
  • 49 CFR 171.16 requires a written report for most other types of hazardous materials incidents, not identified above, within 30 days using DOT Form F 5800.1.

Any person in possession of a hazardous material during transportation, including loading, unloading and storage incidental to transportation, must report to the Department of Transportation (DOT) if certain conditions are met. This means that when the conditions apply for completing the report, the entity having physical control of the shipment is responsible for filling out and filing DOT Form F 5800.1.

When material is being transferred between carriers, it may not be clear who is in "physical control" of the material when a reportable spill occurs. The DOT document Guide for Preparing Hazardous Materials Incidents Reports indicates that whenever material is being transferred from one carrier to another, the upstream carrier remains responsible until the material is fully in the possession of the downstream carrier, no matter who is unloading the material. But after the material has been delivered to the final intended consignee and the goods are no longer in transit, the final consignee becomes responsible for filing the report for spills that occur during unloading (as well as thereafter). In case of ambiguity about who is responsible, the DOT Incident Reporting instruction page lists a contact number 1-800-467-4922 for additional guidance. See the DOT Guide for additional details and guidance on completing Form F 5800.1.

State Requirements

Spill reporting requirements at the state level are summarized below, based on information from state agencies' websites. Always check with your state to confirm reporting requirements.

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA
HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD
MA MI MS MO MN MT NE NV NH NJ
NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC
SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY


State

Agency

Reportable Quantity

Where to Report

Alabama

Alabama Emergency Management Agency

Federal RQ applies.

800-843-0699

Alaska

Department of Environmental Conservation

Any amount

800-478-9300

Arizona

Department of Environmental Quality

Federal RQ applies

800-234-5677

Arkansas

Department of Environmental Quality

Federal RQ applies

800-322-4012

California

Office of Emergency Response

Any amount unless it does not impact human health, environment and property

800-852-7550

Colorado

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Federal RQ applies

877-518-5608

Connecticut

Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

Any amount

866-337-7745

Delaware

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

Federal RQ applies

800-662-8802

Florida

Department of Environmental Protection

All spills threatening population or the environment

877-272-8335

Georgia

Department of Natural Resources Emergency Operations Center

Any petroleum products that reach waters and cause a sheen

800-241-4113

Hawaii

Department of Emergency Services

Federal RQ apples

808-723-8960

Idaho

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

Federal RQ applies

800-632-8000

Illinois

Office of Emergency Response

Federal RQ applies

800-782-7860

Indiana

Indiana Department of Environmental Management

All spills regardless of quantity

888-233-7745

Iowa

Department of Natural Resources

All spills regardless of quantity

515-281-8694

Kansas

Kansas Department of Health and Environment

All spills regardless of quantity

785-296-1679

Kentucky

Department for Environmental Protection

All spills regardless of quantity; 25 gallons of gasoline inside secondary containment

800-928-2380

Louisiana

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality

Federal RQ applies

225-342-1234

Maine

Department of Environmental Protection

All spills regardless of quantity

800-452-4664

Maryland

Department of the Environment

Federal RQ applies

866-633-4686

Massachusetts

Department of Environmental Protection

All spills regardless of quantity

888-304-1133

Michigan

Department of Natural Resources

Federal RQ applies

800-292-4706

Minnesota

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

All spills regardless of quantity; 5 gallon threshold for petroleum

800-422-0798

Mississippi

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency

All spills regardless of quantity

800-222-6362

Missouri

Department of Natural Resources

>50 gallons of fuel

>25 gallons from UST

573-634-2436

Montana

Disaster and Emergency Services

Federal RQ applies

406-841-3911

Nebraska

Department of Environmental Quality

Federal RQ applies

402-471-2186

Nevada

Division of Environmental Protection

Federal RQ applies

888-331-6337

New Hampshire

Department of Environmental Services

Federal RQ applies

603-271-3899

New Jersey

Bureau of Emergency Response

All spills regardless of quantity

877-927-6337

New Mexico

New Mexico Environmental Department

All spills

505-827-9329

New York

Department of Environmental Conservation

All spills regardless of quantity; 5 gallon threshold for petroleum

800-457-7362

North Carolina

Department of Environment and Natural Resources

>25 gallons of fuel Federal RQ applies

800-858-0368

North Dakota

Department of Health

Any amount

701-328-5210

Ohio

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

Federal RQ applies

800-282-9378

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality

>10 barrels of material used for drilling; any amount that enters water; Federal RQ applies

800-522-0206

Oregon

Oregon Emergency Response System


Federal RQ applies

800-452-0311

Pennsylvania

Department of Environmental Quality

All spills that could impact state waters

800-541-2050

Rhode Island

Office of Emergency Response

Any quantity

401-222-3070

South Carolina

Office of Environmental Quality Control

Federal RQ applies

888-481-0125

South Dakota

Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Any quantity

605-773-3296

Tennessee

Emergency Management Agency

Federal RQ applies

800-322-8362

Texas

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

RQ is 100 lbs for any chemicals that gets into Texas waters

800-832-8224

Utah

Department of Environmental Quality

Federal RQ applies

801-536-4123

Vermont

Department of Environmental Conservation

Federal RQ applies

800-641-5005

Virginia

Department of Emergency Management

Federal RQ applies

800-468-8892

Washington

Department of Ecology

Federal RQ applies

800-258-5990

West Virginia

Department of Environmental Protection

Federal RQ applies

800-642-3074

Wisconsin

Department of Natural Resources

> One gallon of gasoline on a pervious surface

800-943-0003

Wyoming

Department of Environmental Quality

Any amount that enters waters

307-777-7781

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More Resources

Fact Sheet on Release Reporting Requirements. A fact sheet summarizing the different EPA spill reporting regulations.

National Response Center On-Line Reporting Tool. This tool provides users the ability to easily submit incident reports to the National Response Center (NRC).


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