Environmental Health & Safety

Community Right-To-Know Policy


The Community Right-To-Know Act for Amherst College has been prepared to better inform the local, state and federal regulatory agencies and the general public about the chemicals and petroleum products being stored, transported, used and released by Amherst College. In accordance with the requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, (D.E.P.) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Amherst College has instituted this plan to assist “community residents” and our regulatory agencies with the acquisition of information about the hazardous materials and the hazardous and universal waste that is located at the college.

In cooperation with the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) of Hampshire County and the Municipal Coordinator, Amherst College has agreed to provide any and all information about the chemicals, hazardous materials and wastes on site to whomever requests it, regulatory agencies or community residents as defined below.



Community Resident
any person in a city or town who has reason to believe that a college, company, industry or university is handling, manufacturing, processing, storing or using a substance improperly which may pose a risk to the environment or endanger public health and safety.

Department of Environmental Protection (D.E.P.)

the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regulatory agency charged with the promulgation and enforcement of laws pertaining to the environment, including but not limited to air, soil and water.

Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.)

the regulatory agency charged with the promulgation and enforcement of environmental laws that protect the air, soil and water at the federal level.

Hazardous Materials

materials such as chemicals and oil, which if released or misused can pose a threat to the environment and/or the health and safety of the community. Hazardous Materials can be found in agricultural, commercial, industrial, medical and research environments. The materials can be corrosive, flammable, poisonous and/or radioactive.

Local Emergency Planning Committee (L.E.P.C.)

a committee set up in each city or town that is responsible for developing an emergency plan for preparing and responding to chemical emergencies (including oil) in that community

Local Emergency Plan

a document that includes but is not limited to: the identification of local facilities, transportation routes, procedures for immediate clean-up, notification protocols, training exercises and the names of the personnel, coordinators and public safety agencies that design, implement, monitor and evaluate the plans


Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

information made available to employees of a company by the manufacturer of a chemical which outlines the chemical make-up of the material, its hazards, proper personnel protective equipment, proper use, first aid, and emergency response actions and other applicable health and safety communications


Municipal Coordinator

an official, generally the Fire Chief, Health Commissioner, Public Health Officer or their designee appointed by the Town Administrator or Select Board to oversee the Local Emergency Planning Commission and applicable Community Right-to-Know plans for the town or city.



any form of petroleum including crude oil, fuel oil, petroleum-derived synthetic oil and reined oil products other than petrochemicals. It does not include animal or vegetable oils.


Research Facility

a site at which research studies are conducted or where hazardous waste is otherwise subjected to an innovative and experimental treatment, recycling, disposal technology or other process for which permit or license standards have not been promulgated under 310 CMR 30.000. Such facilities may consist of several operating units, and shall include all land, structures, and other appurtenances and improvements which are directly related to continuous research, development, and demonstration activity. The definition does not include, and the research facility is not, a site or works licensed or otherwise pursuant to 310 CMR 30.0999(6), 30.0999(23), 30.104(19), 30.200, 30.801, 30.862-30.863 or any provision of 310 CMR 30.000 other than 310 CMR 30.864.


Response Action

any action such as assessment, containment, removal, disposal, treatment or storage undertaken as part of a corrective action performed pursuant to MGL c. 21E and 310 CMR 40.000, Federal Superfund (CERCLA), and RCRA corrective action or an analogous clean-up authority within another state.


Threat of Release

a substantial likelihood of a release which requires action to prevent or mitigate damage to the environment, which may result from such a release. Circumstances that represent a threat of release include, but are not limited to, sites or vessels containing or conducting an amount of hazardous waste in excess of the reportable quantity for that hazardous waste where no release has occurred but where corrosion, damage, malfunction or other conditions are visible, known to exist or should be known to exist and where these conditions are likely to result in a release.



a method, technique or process, including neutralization, incineration, stabilization or solidification, designed to change the physical, chemical or biological character or composition of any hazardous waste so as to neutralize such waste or so as to render such waste less hazardous, non-hazardous, safer to transport, amenable to storage, or reduced in volume, except such method or technique as may be included as an integral part of a manufacturing process at the point of generation.


Universal Waste

any of the following wastes, as described further within 310 CMR 30.1020, that are managed under the universal waste requirements 310 CMR 30.1000:

  • Batteries (including Alkaline)
  • Pesticides
  • Thermostats
  • Mercury containing devices
  • Mercury containing lamps
  • Computer Monitors



Amherst College is a four year fine arts college that is located in the center of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts at the intersections of Route 9 and 116. The college has approximately 180 buildings on site, including academic facilities, dormitories and private residences that are rented or owned by college faculty and staff.

The buildings on campus are maintained by the Physical Plant which is located at 6 East Drive, just off College Street immediately across the intersection from Dickinson Street. The buildings for which this plan is most desirable include, but is not limited to the Hazardous Waste Storage Facility, the Heating Plant, the Merrill and Life Sciences Buildings and Pratt Museum. Amherst College has two 30,000 gallon underground storage tanks located just to the North of the Heat Plant. These tanks contain #6 fuel oil (very viscous, slow moving oil) used for the purpose of heating. In addition, the college has an underground storage tank that was recently replaced with monitoring devices and double wall containment in 1998. It is located on the North side of the Lord Jeffery Inn at the corner of Boltwood Ave. and Spring Street. The tank contains 3,000 gallons of oil for heating.

The science buildings which include Life Science, Merrill and Pratt Museum contain biological chemical and radioactive materials in small quantities. These chemicals, here-after referred to as hazardous materials, are typically found in all college research laboratories. There hazards may be identified as combustible, corrosive, flammable, poison, toxic and/or water-reactive. The College, because of strict guidelines imposed on us by the federal and state regulatory agencies, properly stores, transports and disposed of all our hazardous and universal waste. All of the materials are properly capped or covered, labeled and stored in either secondary containment or appropriate storage cabinets. The materials stored, transported and used in these facilities are the responsibility of the individual departments who have each designated a laboratory safety coordinator or supervisor to oversee proper regulatory compliance. Because the Community Right-To-Know Act is part of Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986, which is enforceable by the federal EPA materials found in the laboratories must have an MSDS available for review by either an agent of the DEP or EPA, or a “community resident” who is working with the LEPC or the Municipal Coordinator. MSDSs are not available for all chemicals, because they are mixed or are considered trade secrets.

Many hazardous materials and wastes are formulated in the laboratory and as such are not required to have a Material Safety Data Sheet on site. However, information can and will be made available to any regulatory agency, the community resident through the LEPC or the Municipal Coordinator upon request. In addition to the 83 academic and dormitory facilities across the campus, Amherst College also has approximately 100 residential homes that are either rented or have been recently purchased by a member of the faculty or staff. Many of these private residences have oil for the specific purpose of heating. Although none of these homes have underground storage tanks any longer there is still a potential to have oil contamination in or around the property that could make its way into the environment either because of overflow or tank leak or rupture. For these reasons, Amherst College has developed an SPCC (Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures) plan which is required by the federal and state regulatory agencies. As part of this plan all of the underground storage tanks have been removed from the residences and placed in the basements or converted over to gas, natural or propane. In addition, the tanks are being inspected at least annually by Amherst Housing and/or Environmental Health & Safety for leakage and general overall conditions. If a leak, rupture or spill occurs, the above referenced SPCC plan can and will deal with the corrective actions necessary.


The overall responsibility for the Community Right-To-Know plan has been assigned to:
Name: Jim Brassord, P.E.
Title: Director of Facilities Planning and Management
Department: Physical Plant
Address: 6 East Drive, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002-5000
Phone (work): (413) 542-2202
Phone (home) (413) 549-3803
Pager: (413) 263-1187
e-mail: jdbrassord@amherst.edu
In the absence of the above referenced person, the secondary contacts are:
Name: Richard A. Mears
Title: Environmental Health & Safety Manager
Department: Physical Plant
Address: 6 East Drive, Amherst College
Phone (work): (413) 542-8189
Phone (home): (413) 549-0898
Cell Phone: (413) 530-8782
Pager: (413) 263-7894
e-mail: ramears@amherst.edu

Name: Kristi Ohr
Title: Chemical Hygiene Officer
Department: Chemistry
Address: Merrill Science, 15 Mead Drive, Amherst College
Phone (work) (413) 542-2736
Phone (home) N/A
Pager: N/A
e-mail: kohr@amherst.edu

Campus Address: Physical Plant Address:
Amherst College Facilities Management & Planning
Physical Plant
6 East Drive
Amherst College Amherst, MA 01002-5000
Telephone: (413) 542-2000 Telephone: (413) 542-2202
Fax: (413) 542-2621 Fax: (413) 542-5789

Amherst College
Office of the President
103 Converse Hall
100 Boltwood Avenue
Amherst College Amherst MA, 01002-5000
Telephone: (413) 542-2000

Amherst College (4) digit SIC - 8221
Amherst College has 840 employees (faculty and staff)and 1650 students
Amherst College has (5) generators of Hazardous/Universal Wastes:

1. Large Quantity Generator:
  • Kristi Ohr (Chemistry)
  • Maureen Manning (Biology)
  • Richard Scorpio (Fine Arts)
  • Bob Bartos (Physics)
  • Richard Mears (Physical Plant)
2. Very Small (Conditionally exempt) Generators:
  • Amherst Golf Course
  • Amherst College Observatory
  • Amherst College Print Services OAS
  • The Lord Jeffery Inn
*Multiple generator sites were approved by the MASS DEP because of distance from the college.
Municipal Coordinator (Town of Amherst)
Michael Zlogar
Assistant Fire Chief
Amherst Fire Department
68 North Pleasant St.
Amherst, MA 01004
Telephone: (413) 256-4082 or 256-4080 Fax: (413) 256-4087
Site Security
Amherst College Campus Police
Physical Plant
6 East Drive
Amherst College
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
Emergency Phone: (413) 542-2111
Business Phone: (413) 542-2291
Fax: (413) 542-8111
Police Chief: John Carter


As part of the Community Right-To-Know Act, Amherst College is required to:
  1. File applicable reports (i.e. SPCC and air emissions) to the local, state and federal regulatory agencies, as required.
  2. Allow the public (community resident) to have access to Amherst College chemical, petroleum, radioactive material and waste information, subject to the discretion of the “Municipal Coordinator.”
  3. Maintain all Material Safety Data Sheets on site, unless exempt under 310 CMR 33.04
  4. Identify a contact person or persons for the college, in case(s) of emergency
  5. Have applicable Material Safety Data Sheets available for review by:
  • Faculty, Staff, Students, Contractors, and Visitors
  • Physician(s)
  • The LEPC
  • The Municipal Coordinator
  • A community resident (via the Municipal Coordinator)

Physician Access:

Except in cases of emergency, all requests by doctors for a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) shall be made in writing and shall comply with the requirements of 105 CMR 670.025(D).
  • The request should state that the patient has a medical condition that might have been caused by exposure to a toxic or hazardous substance or waste that was made, processed, used, stored or transported by Amherst College.
  • The physician receiving the MSDS may be required to sign a confidentiality agreement to keep the MSDS and any trade secret information confidential, when applicable.
  • These requirements shall apply to present and former employees of the college, a community resident, the LEPC or the Municipal Coordinator.

Public Disclosure Petitions:

Any “Community Resident” who has reason to believe that Amherst College or a contractor / person working for the college is or may be storing, transporting, using or disposing of a hazardous material / waste or other substance in a manner that may endanger public health and safety can and should contact either the Human Resources Department of Amherst College at 542-2372 or the Town of Amherst Municipal Coordinator at 256-4082 and request an investigation.

The petition, which is sent to the Municipal Coordinator, must contain the following information:

  1. Name, address and signature of the petitioner
  2. A statement that the petition is being filed under the provisions of the Massachusetts Community Right-To-Know Act (MGL, chapter 111F)
  3. A statement explaining the petitioner's grounds for belief that the use or presence of the hazardous material or waste is or may be endangering public health and safety.
  4. Any other information or data known to the petitioner that could assist the Municipal Coordinator in conducting the investigation (310 CMR 33.06)
  •  After the petition has been submitted to the Municipal Coordinator, he or she must determine if the petition is valid. If the petition is valid, the Municipal Coordinator must:
  • Notify the Amherst College Human Resources Office at 542-2372 within (5) working days of receiving the petition, which must include either:
    • a) Copy of the original petition, or
    • b) Summary of the petition that includes:
      • Petitioner
      • Grounds for petition
      • Other pertinent information
A. Amherst College Response:

Amherst College, through the department Human Resources or their designee shall respond back to the Municipal Coordinator within 15 days of receiving the petition.

B. Municipal Coordinator Responsibilities:


The Municipal Coordinator, after receiving a response from Amherst College can opt to:

1. Not proceed any further, or
2. Conduct an investigation which may include:
  • Request additional information from the college or petitioner
  • Inspection of the Amherst College property or specific site
  • collection and analysis of air, water, soil or discharge samples, including samples of the materials on site, at the expense of Amherst College (310 CMR 33.06 (3)). If the Municipal Coordinator does not proceed with an investigation of the claims against the college, he or she shall, within 15 days of receipt of the petition, respond in writing to the petitioner.
  • The Municipal Coordinator shall outline why he or she felt that an investigation or corrective actions were not necessary, as they pertained to the petition.
  • If the Municipal Coordinator does opt to proceed with an investigation, a written response to the petitioner must be given within 15 days, after the investigation has been completed. The response shall include:
    1. A summary of the information contained in the petition
    2. A summary of the response (if any) by Amherst College
    3. A recommendation to the DEP Commissioner on releasing an MSDS to the petitioner
    4. The reasons for the Municipal Coordinators recommendations
    5. A statement of specific actions by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
    6. A statement from the Town of Amherst through the Municipal Coordinator, LEPC and/or the Board of Health
    7. A procedure for requesting review of the response (310 CMR 33.06(3)(d)).
      The Municipal Coordinator should consider the following factors…
  • The nature and quantity of the hazardous materials or waste present
  • The number of people who are or may be exposed to the material
  • The proximity of the substances to sensitive populations, public or private drinking water supplies, or other “significant potential receptors”
  • Amherst College compliance or non-compliance with existing statutes, regulations, ordinances, or bylaws regulating the public health and safety
  • Any factors considered relevant (310 CMR 33.06 (3)(e)).
C. DEP Responsibilities:

The DEP shall not require the release of MSDS information when it finds that:

  • The request was frivolous.
  • The request was intended to harass Amherst College or the company / contractor working for the college.
  • Amherst College could not be reasonably identified as the generator or area of concern.
  • The circumstances on which the petition was based are not rationally related to the release of MSDS information (310 CMR 33.06 (4)(a)(3)).
D. Form Submittals:

Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Form must be submitted by March 1st to:

EPA Regional Laboratory
SARA Title III Division
60 Westview Street
Lexington, MA 02173
Toxic Chemical Release Inventory must be submitted by July 1st to:
Office of Technical Assistance and Outreach
JFK Building
Boston, MA 02203
E. Penalties

If the Commonwealth of Massachusetts believes that Amherst College has willfully and intentionally violated any provision of the Massachusetts Community Right-To-Know Act, the DEP may report the violations to the State Attorney General’s Office for corrective action and penalties.

[Quick Links]
Quick Links
  • Chemical Inventory System
  • Incident Report Forms
  • MSDS On-Line
  • Permit Application Forms – Town of Amherst
  • Sustainability
  • Water Quality Report – Town of Amherst