The EPA has proposed changes that would reduce chemical reporting to their Toxics Release Inventory Program developed as part of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. Under the new plan, companies would be able to use a short form, which could potentially save a total of 164,432 hours per year and a cost savings of $7.4 million, an average of $430 and 47 hours per form.
The Environmental Protection Agency has tracked chemicals at plants around the U.S. since 1998. Since the program’s inception, the list of tracked chemicals has grown to 667.
The proposed changes would allow plants to release up to 5,000 pounds of one chemical and no longer list the details of the release. Currently, companies would complete a long form for each chemical per plant, describing how much of that chemical has been utilized or produced and the treatment it would receive. Plants who release the most dangerous chemicals, such as mercury or other bioaccumulative toxins, would also be able to use the short form, as long as the plant uses less than 500 pounds and releases none into the environment.
Environmentalists are wary of the proposed changes, citing the lack of information provided to plant neighbors. “You could have a net increase in releases from these facilities, and you’d never know it,” warns Tom Natan, research director of the National Environmental Trust, a Washington D.C.-based group. “They need more scrutiny and more help, not less.”
The National Federation of Independent Business of Nashville, TN maintains the current law is too burdensome. “If you’re a micro-releaser, you should be treated differently,” commented Andrew Langer, manager of regulatory policy at NFIB. “That’s time and money they could be spending on their small business.” Only companies with 10 or fewer employees are currently exempt from reporting chemical releases.
The EPA is accepting comments through January 13 on the proposed changes.