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May 10, 2021
Changes coming to TRI

On April 29, 2021, the EPA announced it will be expanding Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements to include additional chemicals and facilities and provide more tools for communities to increase access to environmental information.

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“Every person in the United States has a right to know about what chemicals are released into their communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in an Agency press release. “By requiring new and more data on chemical releases from facilities, EPA and its partners will be better equipped to protect the health of every individual, including people of color and low-income communities that are often located near these facilities but have been left out of the conversation for too long.”

TRI reporting is required under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

Expanded TRI reporting requirements

The EPA is adding TRI reporting requirements for ethylene oxide (EtO) to include certain contract sterilization facilities that use EtO to sterilize medical equipment but are not currently required to report this information.

“Many of these contract sterilization facilities are located near areas with Environmental Justice (EJ) concerns,” according to the EPA press release. “Workers in facilities that use EtO and communities – including historically underserved communities – living adjacent to these facilities are at the highest risks from exposure to EtO. Making more information available about releases of EtO will assist the agency in identifying and responding to any human health and environmental threats they cause.”

Other changes include TRI reporting for:

  • Natural gas processing facilities. Natural gas processing facilities will be added to the list of industry sectors covered under TRI reporting requirements. The EPA says that “[a]dding natural gas processing facilities to TRI would increase the publicly available information on chemical releases and other waste management activities of TRI-listed chemicals from this sector. Millions of people live within 30 miles of at least one natural gas processing facility.”
  • Additional per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). New PFAS will be added to TRI in addition to the three new PFAS added for 2021. “The provisions included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) automatically add certain PFAS to the TRI chemical list when certain conditions are met (see NDAA Section 7321(c)),” according to the Agency.  “EPA also anticipates the automatic addition of more PFAS, including perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), following EPA’s recent publication of a toxicity assessment on the chemical.”
  • TSCA work plan and high-priority chemicals. The Agency’s plans include adding the chemicals in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) work plan and other TSCA high-priority substances to TRI. “In addition, EPA plans to propose to list chemicals included in a 2014 petition received from the [Massachusetts] Toxics Use Reduction Institute,” the EPA says. “Many of these substances could be present in fence line communities, those communities within close proximity to industrial uses of these chemicals where releases to water, air, or land could be of a greater impact.”

TRI tools for communities

In addition, the EPA is taking actions to allow better access to TRI data and to make those data more useful for communities, including:

  • Enhancing the search tool to include a “Demographic Profile” section derived from EJSCREEN. This profile will include information about the income profile and the racial makeup of communities surrounding TRI facilities.
  • Launching a Spanish version of its TRI website.
  • Better publicizing Pollution Prevention (P2) information and encouraging its use “as a tool for communities to engage with reporting facilities on workable solutions for building community health by encouraging facilities to reduce their use and releases of toxic chemicals, thereby helping to prevent possible exposure to such chemicals,” according to the Agency.  “Reporting on P2 activities is required by TRI and reveals how facilities can – and have – adopted source reduction practices that can lead to meaningful reductions in releases, across a range of industrial sectors.”
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