Volume 85 Issue 1 | p. 10 | News of The Week
Issue Date: January 1, 2007

Right-to-Know Info Shrinks

EPA says change will reward cleaner firms; activists, Democrats decry move
Department: Government & Policy
Lautenberg
Credit: Courtesy of Frank Lautenberg
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Lautenberg
Credit: Courtesy of Frank Lautenberg

Thousands of industrial facilities will provide far less information than previously required about their annual toxic releases under a rule the Bush Administration unveiled on Dec. 18, 2006.

About one-third of the 24,000 facilities that file Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reports each year are now eligible to submit less data on one or more chemicals, according to EPA.

Environmental groups say the change limits the public's right to know about releases of hazardous chemicals into the environment. Some congressional Democrats, including Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), have pledged to overturn the rule.

EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock says the new reporting requirements will encourage companies to become cleaner and more efficient. This is because if a facility cuts its releases of TRI chemicals, it can file less information with the agency than it does now.

The new rule changes the criteria for determining which of two standard TRI forms facilities must fill out and return each year. TRI information gets submitted on either a long form, called Form R, or a short one, Form A.

Form A requires the name of the facility and the name of the chemical handled. Form R includes this information along with the volume of the substance released and whether the compound is released to air, water, or land.

In the past, a facility could file the short form if it released or disposed of less than 500 lb per year of a chemical listed on TRI. The rules raises the threshold for using Form A to 2,000 lb.

In addition, facilities can now use the short form to report on wastes containing substances categorized as persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. Previously, facilities had to use the long form for these materials.

Environmental groups decry the Bush Administration's move. "EPA has severely limited the public's right to know," says Thomas E. Natan Jr., research director for the National Environmental Trust.

An analysis by the National Environmental Trust, an environmental group, says the U.S. military and many large companies-including chemical distributors Univar USA, Chemcentral, and Brenntag-will benefit from the TRI reporting change.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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