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GAO Investigation Rips Toxics Reporting Rule

February 12, 2007 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 85, Issue 7

A new EPA rule will provide modest savings to many companies, but the public will lose a substantial amount of information on local chemical releases, the Government Accountability Office reported on Feb. 6. Under the rule, about one-third of the 24,000 facilities that file Toxics Release Inventory reports are now eligible to submit less information about one or more chemicals. EPA finalized the rule in late December 2006 (C&EN, Jan. 1, page 10). The changes allow more facilities to use a short form rather than a long form for filing their annual TRI reports. GAO said these changes "will likely have a significant impact on information available to the public about dozens of toxic chemicals from thousands of facilities in states and communities across the country." The new rule will save industry $5.9 million per year, which GAO said works out to less than $900 per facility, or about 4% of the total annual cost of all TRI reporting. The GAO findings (GAO-07-464T), presented as testimony to the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, are available at and will be part of a final report expected later this year.


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