Region 1: EPA New England
What is Available Outside of FOIA? / Frequently Asked Questions
To save you time and money, review the Question & Answer section and try checking the links offered before submitting a written FOIA. You will receive immediate responses, tailored to your specifications, and perhaps answer your question entirely. If not, after exhausting the online resources (or your patience), submit the FOIA.
Q. Where should I begin looking for information about EPA or the environment?
A. EPA is publishing information daily on all aspects of the environment, so start on the EPA homepage. Pick a topic, conduct a search or check the index for direction on where to find your answer. If you need some assistance navigating the EPA, New England web site, call the Region 1 Library (toll-free in New England at 888-EPA-LIBR or 888-373-5427). Reference staff can point you in the most likely direction or confirm that the information probably is not there).
Q. I am trying to find out about the manufacturing facility down the street from me or where I work. How can I learn what it might be doing to pollute (or enhance) environment?
A. The best point to start your research is through the link to Envirofacts warehouse which integrates data from five EPA program systems for air, Superfund, wastewater, hazardous waste, and toxics released. Updated monthly, Envirofacts contains data that would be available/released under FOIA. No enforcement or budget-sensitive information is contained in this database. The Envirofacts Overview is highly recommended for new visitors to this site.
Q. How do I find out if a hazardous waste site is a Superfund site?
A. CERCLIS is the official repository for site and non-site specific Superfund data in support of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). It contains information on hazardous waste site assessment and remediation from 1983 to the present. CERCLIS information is used to report official Superfund accomplishments to Congress and the public, assist EPA Regional and Headquarters managers in evaluating the status and progress of site cleanup actions and communicate planned activities and budgets. The Superfund Query Form provides access to Superfund NPL Factsheets, Record of Decision documents (RODs), and CERCLIS Site Reports. http://www.epa.gov/enviro/html/cerclis/cerclis_overview.html
More information on the Superfund program including NPL sites, Federal Facilities (air force, army, navy base, etc.), underground storage tank (UST) gasoline tanks, oil spills, and Brownfields can be found at http://www.epa.gov/superfund/index.htm
Q. How can I find out what companies produce or treat hazardous waste?
A. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Information System (RCRIS) tracks RCRA regulated generators, transporters, treaters, storers, and disposers of hazardous waste (as defined by the federally recognized hazardous waste codes) which are required to provide information concerning their activities to state environmental agencies, who in turn provide the information to regional and national EPA offices.
Q. How can I find out about solid waste landfills and related information?
A. The non-hazardous (Subtitle D) program includes municipal solid waste, pay as you trhow, recycling, household hazardous waste, etc., and can be found at http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/index.htm
More information about the hazardous waste program under RCRA including corrective action, handlers, exports/imports, land disposal restrictions, permits, radioactive mixed waste, recycling, waste minimization can be found at http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/index.htm
Q. What is considered a CERCLA hazardous substance and when should a release or spill be reported?
A. The Emergency Response Notification System (ERNS) database used to store information on notifications of oil discharges and hazardous substances releases in the United States. The ERNS program is a cooperative data sharing effort among EPA Headquarters, the Department of Transportation offices, the ten EPA Regions, and the National Response Center (NRC). Since its inception in 1986, more than 350,000 release notifications have been entered into ERNS for events such as an explosion and fire at facility in Corpus Christi, Texas on May 12, 1997.
Q. I want to find out if any companies are discharging chemicals to the Sparkling River where I fish. Is there a data system for that?
A. The Permit Compliance System (PCS) tracks permit issuance, permit limits and monitoring data, and other data on more than 75,000 facilities nationwide. These facilities are regulated under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program for direct discharges from municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities into the navigable waters of the United States.
Q. Someone told me there was information about what Big Business Company was releasing from their smokestacks. Where would I find that?
A. The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) contains information about releases and transfers of more than 650 toxic chemicals and compounds to the environment. TRI stores release-transfer data by facility, by year and chemical, and by medium of release (air, water, underground injection, land disposal, and offsite). TRI also stores treatment and source-reduction data. At the facility level, TRI stores facility name, address, latitude/longitude, and parent company. At the chemical level, TRI stores Standard Industrial Classification (SIC), EPA identification numbers (EPA ID), and pollution prevention data (e.g., recycling, energy recovery, treatment, and disposal). At the medium level, TRI stores names and addresses of off-site transfer recipient facilities.
Q. What other source of information is there on air pollution sources?
A. The Aerometric Information Retrieval System (AIRS), AIRS Facility Subsystem (AFS) is available through Envirofacts. AFS contains both emissions, compliance and permit data on air pollution point sources regulated by the U.S. EPA and/or state and local air regulatory agencies. AFS contains data on industrial plants and their components: stacks--the points at which emissions are introduced into the atmosphere; points--the emission point or process within a plant that produces the pollutant emissions; and segments--components of the processes that produce emissions.
Q. Where can I find out about the pesticides being applied by my lawn care company or in the apartment building where I live?
A. Pesticides information can be found at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/index.htm
Q. What about the dangers of various chemicals I find in my environment? What are the health effects of lead or mercury?
A. Toxic substances at http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/index.html
Q. Information from Envirofacts is limited; is there any place I can find more information about a facility?
A. RTK NET , a network providing free access to numerous databases, text files, and conferences on the environment, housing, and sustainable development is another source to check. With the information available on RTK NET, you can identify specific factories and their environmental effects; analyze reinvestment by banks in their communities; and assess people and communities affected.
Q. I want to be a good partner in the environment, but finding the laws and regulations which apply to my business isn't easy?
A. There are a couple of sources for federal regulations and laws from this page http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/
For EPA regulations, start with the annual Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) or 40 CFR. You can download selected parts (by program groups) at http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/search/40cfr.html
For proposed rules, notices and final rules which might not appear in the CFR, use the online version of the Federal Register (FR) and search by date, topic or keyword easily at http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/
All federal agencies rules and notices appear in the Federal Register accessible from the Government Printing Office (GPO) site at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html and federal laws or statutes (US Code) at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html.
And all agency CFRs are accessible and searchable at the House of Representatives Internet Law Library http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/cfr-table-search.htmlContact us through E-mail if you have further questions.