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Community “Right to Know”

In 1986, the U.S. Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Though it was debated and passed as a stand-alone law, it ended up packaged as part of another 1986 law, the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). The act is known either as EPCRA or as SARA Title III. This vitally important act mandates public communication of information regarding the release of toxic chemicals into the environment, creates an important resource for both the public and journalists regarding these releases, and demonstrates the power of making environmental information available.

The new law was billed as a response to two emergencies, the catastrophic 1984 chemical release at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, and a distressingly similar but not catastrophic 1985 ...

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