The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced it will be updating the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The comprehensive plan includes expanding the scope of TRI reporting requirements to include additional chemicals and facilities, including facilities that are not currently reporting on ethylene oxide (EtO) releases, and providing new tools to make TRI data more accessible to the public. TRI is a resource for learning about annual chemical releases, waste management, and pollution prevention activities reported by nearly 22,000 industrial and Federal facilities.
The USEPA will continue to expand the TRI program to protect the health and safety of underserved communities, including:
- TRI Reporting for Additional Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): USEPA will continue to add new PFAS to TRI, in addition to the three PFAS added in Reporting Year 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. The USEPA also anticipates the automatic addition of more PFAS, including perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), following USEPA’s recent publication of a toxicity assessment on the chemical.
- TRI Reporting for Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Workplan and High-Priority Chemicals: USEPA plans to propose adding to the chemicals included in the TSCA workplan and other substances designated as high-priority substances under TSCA to the TRI. In addition, USEPA plans to propose to list chemicals included in a 2014 petition received from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute. 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 Reporting for Natural Gas Processing Facilities: USEPA plans to finalize a rule to add natural gas processing facilities to the list of industry sectors covered under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) section 313. Adding natural gas processing facilities to the 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.
- EtO Reporting: USEPA says it is committed to broadening TRI reporting on EtO to include certain contract sterilization facilities that are not currently required to report this information. EtO is used to make other industrial chemicals and is also used to sterilize medical devices. Many of these contract sterilization facilities are located near areas with Environmental Justice concerns. 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 USEPA in identifying and responding to any human health and environmental threats they cause.
Additional TRI Tools for Communities
The USEPA has taken several steps to make TRI data more useful and accessible to communities by:
- Enhancing TRI search tools to include a “Demographic Profile” section which displays a map showing information like the income profile and the racial makeup surrounding TRI facilities derived from EJSCREEN. Users can also access demographic data for individual TRI facilities, as well as view a “Community Report” by selecting a facility from the “Facility Comparison Table” in the “Facility Summary” section.
- Launching a Spanish version of the TRI website, making the most popular resources from the English version of the website available in Spanish for the first time and continuing to provide the annual TRI National Analysis in Spanish.
- Promoting the use of Pollution Prevention (P2) information 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. 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.