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Critical Deadline Approaches for CERCLA Release Reporting

Posted by Richard Gates - Livestock

Date: Nov 7, 2017

Source: Richard Gates, 217-244-2791, or Neslihan Akdeniz, 217-300-2644,
News writer: Deborah Seiler, 217-300-5571,

Court ruling requires some livestock and poultry farmers to report emissions by November 15

Livestock and poultry farmers have to notify public agencies if their facilities are likely emitting over 100 lbs per day of either ammonia or hydrogen sulfide. The deadline is currently November 15, 2017.

This upcoming deadline is a result of an appeals court ruling that requires EPA to enforce an existing reporting rule on CERCLA, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. The decision does not impact a related rule called EPCRA (Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act), which is triggered by similar emissions values but currently applies only to farms designated as large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) under EPA's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

"Livestock and poultry farmers should know that this issue is evolving daily," said Richard Gates, an Extension livestock engineer. "EPA has asked the Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling but as of today, no further action has been taken. Thus, it is prudent to prepare for the requirement to report, if necessary, under CERCLA. We will be providing further assistance on how to complete the required reports in the coming days."

EPA has provided guidance at on their website.

To assist farmers, Extension livestock engineers have created a simple table of animal numbers that would be required to trigger a mandatory report of a continuous release of ammonia. They have determined that for most cases, ammonia emissions, rather than hydrogen sulfide emissions, will be the greater value.

Using the animal numbers in the table, a farmer can determine whether further action is taken. For example, a grow-finish swine farm that uses deep pits for manure storage and has less than 2,703 head, or a turkey grower with less than 12,970 tom turkeys raised from 36 to 140 days old, would not need to take any further action.

"We urge farmers to review their operations and select the best fit from the threshold reporting table," said Neslihan Akdeniz, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Illinois. If a farmer determines that their animal numbers exceed the reporting threshold, further action is required.

Gates and Akdeniz caution that there have been conflicting reports from different EPA Regional Centers. Region 5, in which Illinois is located, has stated that the threshold numbers apply to the entire facility.

"The November 15 reporting deadline is firm as of today, and producers are urged to be proactive," said Akdeniz. "Fortunately the reporting requirements are simple, requiring only a phone call and a follow up report within 30 days. If a farm participated in the EPA's AFO Air Compliance Agreement in 2008, then they are exempt from this new reporting requirement for now."

University of Illinois Extension developed the calculators below, which may assist farmers in estimating emissions. Please note that CERCLA section 103 allows continuous releases to be reported in ranges.

Swine calculator

Dairy calculator

Beef calculator

Threshold Animal Numbers for Required Reporting of Continuous NH3 Release under CERCLA

Swine Head
pull-plug, scrape, flush, shallow pit
Breeding & Gestation 1,020
Farrowing 625
Nursery 5,263
Grow-Finish 1,818
Deep Pit
Breeding & Gestation 1,923
Farrowing 4,545
Nursery 21,739
Grow-Finish 2,703
Any facility, summer conditions 1,429
Age Litter
up to 40-d built-up 31,310
up to 52-d built-up 29,870
up to 63-d built-up 21,020
up to 52-d new 49,850
Laying Hens
Manure Handling System
High-rise housing 28,200
Manure belt + storage
daily removal 196,100
3 to 4-d removal 119,050
Age Range
21-d brooding 108,000
28-d brooding 56,000
35-d brooding 42,000
36 to 140-d toms 12,970
Type Handling system
Open Lot, 60% NH3 loss 385
Open Lot, 20% NH3 loss 1,150
Cow in confinement
In barn, bedded pack, 30% NH3 loss 670
In barn, slatted floors, 10% NH3 loss 1,960
Calf in confinement
In barn, bedded pack, 30% NH3 loss 910
In barn, slatted floors, 10% NH3 loss 2,900

This document and the calculators are intended to assist producers with reporting the possible emission of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. The guidance provided in this document is consistent with the information published by the U.S. EPA. U of I Extension does not endorse this method of emission estimation. This document should not be considered legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice.

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