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Accidental Releases

The ERNS and ARIP databases allow you to get information about past spills at facilities and on roads and waterways. The data is not always accurate and many records may be missing. EPA requires some companies with acutely hazardous chemicals on site to file Risk Management Plans that explain how the company will respond to a chemical spill.

Emergency Response Notification System (ERNS)

The ERNS database is a record of all phone calls made to the National Response Center (NRC). The NRC should be notified when any one of a number of different types of spills or releases of toxic substances occur, including oil spills and CERCLA releases. ERNS also include Coast Guard sightings of spills at sea. Although information from these calls was recorded in a standard form, these phone calls have not been checked for accuracy and may represent incorrect information given during an event. There may also be multiple phone calls referring to the same event. This database is generally NOT updated as more current information about an already-recorded event becomes available.

(There is another EPA database; ARIP that holds updated information about some of the most serious incidents reported in ERNS). (U:02/08/04)

 Accidental Release Information Program (ARIP)

Companies are required to report chemical spills promptly. If a significant spill occurs at a facility the EPA may require a more thorough investigation and report.

ARIP is a data base of followup spill reports.

Risk Management Plans

 Under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, certain chemical facilities must report risk management plans (RMPs) to prevent and respond to chemical accidents in the United States. Each facility's Plan must include:

  • A worst-case chemical release and more-likely "alternative release" scenario,
  • Information about chemical accidents that have occurred in the last five years,
  • An accident prevention program,
  • An emergency response plan,
  • Identifying information about the facility, including its location, address and contact information, and
  • An Executive Summary that summarizes the Plan and allows the company reporting the data to characterize the information in the RMP.


Chemical Safety Board

The Chemical Safety Board has a team of experts who investigate chemical accidents and issue reports. This site contains reports from specific investigations as well as policy recommendations. An example of a CSB report can be found in the UAW Health and Safety Newsletter, No. 3, 2001 (see link below)