The toxic release inventory (TRI) is required by Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The rule was established to provide the public with information regarding the type and quantity of toxic chemicals released to the environment from industrial facilities in their neighborhoods. The rule is not intended to impose restrictions or limitations on the storage or usage of these chemicals. The TRI, also known as the Form R report, must be submitted by July 1st each year by facilities which meet the applicability requirements. Form R reporting can be an overwhelming and time consuming task, especially for first time filers and small businesses. The intent of this article is to assist facilities in determining whether or not they are required to file a Form R report and provide an overview of Form R reporting requirements.
Know if Your Facility Needs to Report
A facility is required to submit annual Form R reports if the facility has 10 or more full time employees; has a primary North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code listed in the Form R instruction manual; and exceeds the reporting threshold for any listed chemical. There are currently over 670 chemicals on the Section 313 Form R chemical list that consist of 30 different chemical categories. Most chemicals have the following thresholds:
Chemicals which are Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBTs), such as dioxin, lead, mercury, and polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs), have been assigned lower reporting thresholds (either 100 pounds, 10 pounds or in the case of the dioxin and dioxin-like compounds chemical category, 0.1 gram). Sixteen new chemicals were added to the Section 313 Form R chemical list on November 26, 2010. All of the chemicals are possible carcinogens. Four of the new chemicals are polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs), which are PBTs and will have a lower reporting threshold.
Multiple approaches can be taken when evaluating what chemicals are Form R reportable at a facility such as: a review of the facility material safety data sheets (MSDSs), supplier notifications, process knowledge (including any knowledge of byproducts), and historical Form R report filings. Once the threshold applicability requirements have been determined, record reviews and calculations necessary for determining how much of the chemical was released to the environment via various pathways (e.g., fugitive air emissions, stack emissions, on-site and off-site disposal, discharges to surface water or a wastewater treatment plant).
"Articles" are exempt from Form R reporting. According to the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Reporting Forms and Instructions, an article is defined as an item that is already manufactured and is formed into a specific shape or design during manufacture, has end-use functions dependent in whole or in part on its shape or design during end-use, and does not release a Section 313 chemical under normal processing or otherwise use conditions at a facility (less than 0.5 lbs/year total released). Note the article exemption does not apply to the manufacture of articles. Examples of articles that would qualify for the exemption are metal wire being bent or sheet metal being cut. These products are applicable to the exemption as long as the diameter of the wire or the thickness of the sheet is not physically changed beyond recognition and the bending or cutting process did not result in a release of 0.5 lbs or more of a toxic chemical.
Another exemption is the "facility grounds maintenance" exemption which applies to the use of products used for routine janitorial or facility grounds maintenance. This exemption includes both individually packaged products (e.g., cans of paint) and substances in bulk containers (e.g., 55-gallon drums of paint). If paint used to maintain roads and signs for a facility are similar in type and concentration to consumer products, the listed toxic chemicals in the paint would be exempt from EPCRA 313 reporting requirements. However, if the paint is used for process-related roads or equipment, such as airstrips at federal facilities, the exemption would not apply.
There is also the "de minimis concentration limitation" exemption. The de minimis exemption allows covered facilities to disregard certain minimal concentrations of listed non-PBT (toxic) chemicals in mixtures or trade name products when making threshold determinations as well as release and other waste management determinations. The de minimis exemption does not apply to the manufacturer of a listed toxic chemical except if the listed toxic chemical is manufactured has an impurity and remains in the product distributed in commerce below the appropriate minimis level or is imported below de minimis concentrations. The de minimis exemption does not apply to a byproduct manufactured coincidentally as a result of manufacturing, processing, otherwise use or any waste management activity. The de minimis concentration values for each of the non-PBT chemicals and chemical categories can be found in the current reporting year's Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Reporting Forms and Instructions.
Other Suggestions Regarding Form R Reporting
A facility that is subject to the EPCRA 313 regulation and has not been filing Form R reports should contact legal counsel immediately and work on filing a report as soon as possible. Facility's that have been reporting should review their records to ensure that they have been reporting correctly. Some common pitfalls that are frequently encountered in Form R reporting are:
The Form R reports are retro, meaning that when a facility files a report by July 1, 2012, it is actually reporting chemical releases for the 2011 calendar year. Filing Form R reports promptly and accurately is beneficial to facility owners, plant employees, and concerned members of the public. Although the Form R report is time consuming, completing and submitting it in a timely fashion is required to avoid fines. Benefits of filing Form R reports include educating your employees as well as the public on the chemicals used in your workplace.
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