Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C. law firm providing chemical and chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in matters relating to TSCA, and other global chemical management programs.

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On September 20, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice in the Federal Register stating that it is extending the compliance date by which submitters of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) submissions containing information claimed as Confidential Business Information (CBI) and filed between June 22, 2016, and March 21, 2017, had to submit to EPA the substantiation required by TSCA Section 14(c)(3) for all information claimed as confidential, other than information exempt from substantiation pursuant to TSCA Section 14(c)(2).  82 Fed. Reg. 43964.  The new deadline for substantiation of these claims is October 19, 2017.  EPA states that this extension is in response to “concerns raised by industry stakeholders regarding the ability for companies to meet the previous September 19, 2017, deadline due to recent severe weather events,” and that it is “providing this additional flexibility for stakeholders because of the impacts of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.”  Further, “because EPA published its interpretation that TSCA section 14(c)(3) requires up front substantiation after some companies had already asserted confidentiality claims subject to TSCA section 14(c)(3), the Agency set a future deadline for submission of substantiations pertaining to those submissions.” 

More information on the CBI substantiation process is available in our memorandum The September 19th CBI Substantiation Deadline Fast Approaching.

Also on September 20, 2017, EPA announced it was scheduling three webinars to assist the regulated community with reporting under the TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) rule.  The webinars, scheduled for September 27, 2017, October 25, 2017, and November 29, 2017, from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (ET), will be identical and will include an overview of reporting requirements, a demo of the electronic reporting application (Central Data Exchange (CDX)), and will provide time for questions and answers.  Registration for the webinars is not required.  EPA’s TSCA Inventory webpage contains the information on how to access the webinar.

More information on the TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) rule is available in our memorandum EPA Issues Final TSCA Framework Rules.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On September 6, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. (EDT), the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittees on Environment and on Oversight will hold a joint hearing on “Examining the Scientific and Operational Integrity of EPA’s IRIS Program.”  The following witnesses are scheduled to testify:

  • Dr. Kenneth Mundt, Principal, Ramboll Environ;
  • Dr. James Bus, Senior Managing Scientist, Exponent; and
  • Dr. Thomas Burke, former Deputy Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) and EPA’s Science Advisor under former President Obama; Johns Hopkins University.

President Trump’s proposed budget request for fiscal year 2018 would have eliminated EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program, although the IRIS Program is included in the final budget request.  The EPA Science Advisory Board’s (SAB) August 29-30, 2017, meeting included an update from ORD’s National Center for Environmental Assessment on the IRIS Program.  According to the presentation, IRIS is working to increase transparency and full implementation of systematic review; modernize the IRIS Program; modularize product lines; and enhance accessibility.  Other IRIS improvements include implementing “next generation IRIS” and improved management practices.  During the meeting, the SAB agreed to send a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in support of the IRIS Program.

Tags: IRIS, SAB, Hearing,

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

As reported in our August 25, 2017, blog item, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a webinar on September 7, 2017, on its process for gathering use and exposure information on five persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA will provide background on new requirements for regulating certain PBT chemicals and explain how interested parties can provide use information to EPA on these five chemicals:

  • Decabromodiphenyl ethers (DecaBDE), used as a flame retardant in textiles, plastics, wiring insulation, and building and construction materials;
  • Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), used as a solvent in the manufacture of rubber compounds and as hydraulic, heat transfer, or transformer fluid;
  • Pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP), used as a mercaptan (sulfur) cross-linking agent to make rubber more pliable in industrial uses;
  • Phenol, isopropylated, phosphate (3:1), used as a flame retardant in consumer products and as lubricant, hydraulic fluid, and other industrial uses; and
  • 2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl) phenol, an antioxidant that can be used as a fuel, oil, gasoline, or lubricant additive.

Due to significant interest in the webinar, EPA is requesting information from participants who would like to offer public input following the EPA presentation, in an effort to accommodate as many commenters as possible.  If you would like to speak following the presentation, please send an e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by Tuesday, September 5, 2017, that includes the following information:

  • Your name;
  • The organization you represent; and
  • The PBT chemical on which you will speak.

EPA has established public dockets for each of the chemicals to facilitate receipt of information on exposure and use that may be useful to EPA’s rulemaking effort.  EPA requests that any information be submitted to the dockets by December 9, 2017, so that the information can inform any regulatory action.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On August 22, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced that it plans to begin preliminary research to assess Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  According to OIG’s Project Notification, the specific objectives for this evaluation are to determine:  (1) how EPA is ensuring that companies are compliant with CDR requirements under TSCA; and (2) whether EPA is using CDR data to prioritize imported and manufactured chemicals for the purpose of identifying the potential for human health and environmental risks.  The Project Notification asks Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and Lawrence Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, to provide the following information:

  • Policies, procedures, and guidance on how CDR data are used in the prioritization of chemicals for TSCA risk evaluations and/or other assessments;
  • Policies, procedures, and guidance regarding the quality assurance/quality control of CDR data; and
  • Enforcement response policy and guidance for CDR violations.

The Project Notification states that the anticipated benefits of the project are “reduced risks to human health and the environment from the monitoring and oversight of TSCA chemicals subject to the CDR rule reporting requirements.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On August 18, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would be holding a public workshop on the use of the paint remover methylene chloride in furniture refinishing on September 12, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EDT) at its Region 1 Headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts.  It is holding the workshop in collaboration with the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy.  The meeting aims to “facilitate an exchange of information on existing use practices and furniture refinishers’ experience, in general, with paint removal products and methods.”

EPA’s January 19, 2017, proposed rule proposed to prohibit the manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of methylene chloride for consumer and most types of commercial paint and coating removal under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA states that this workshop will allow “[f]ederal and state governments, industry professionals, furniture refinishing experts, non-government organizations, and academic experts, among others, [to] discuss the role of methylene chloride in furniture refinishing, potential alternatives, economic impacts, and other issues identified in EPA’s January 2017 proposed rule on methylene chloride,” and information learned from this workshop will allow it to “better understand current work practices and obtain additional information on the economic considerations involved in selecting chemical products for paint and coating removal in the furniture refinishing sector.”

EPA will open a docket at www.regulations.gov in Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0139 upon publication of the notice of the meeting in the Federal Register, and will be accepting comments until November 12, 2017Registration for the meeting is available online.  Registrants can choose to attend in-person, via webinar, or via phone.

 

 


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On July 7, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the scope documents for the risk evaluations of the first ten chemicals that it will be conducting under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  82 Fed. Reg. 31592.  The notice states that each scope document includes “the hazards, exposures, conditions of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations the EPA expects to consider in conducting the risk evaluation.”  The direct links to the scope documents are available in our blog item EPA Issues Much Anticipated Three Final TSCA Framework Rules, Guidance on Draft Risk Evaluations, and Scoping Documents on Risk Evaluations of First Ten Chemicals under Revised TSCA.

The notice also reiterates that EPA is re-opening existing dockets for the first ten chemicals to “allow for the public to provide additional data or information that could be useful to the Agency in conducting problem formulation, the next step in the process of conducting the risk evaluations for these chemicals.”  More information on the reopening of the dockets for public comments, including links to the individual dockets, is available in our blog item EPA Opens Comment Period on Risk Evaluations for First Ten Chemicals under Revised TSCA.  As stated in the memo reopening the dockets, but curiously not stated in the published notice (no dates were included), comments are due September 19, 2017.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

As required by the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), on June 22, 2017, one year after passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued the three framework rules in final.  EPA also released draft guidance to assist in developing and submitting draft risk evaluations.  The final rules are:

  1. Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation;
  2. Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation; and
  3. TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements

EPA also released scoping documents of the risk evaluations and supplemental resources on the first ten chemicals under amended TSCA, as it stipulated in its annual report on risk evaluations.  Links to the scoping documents for these ten chemicals, as well as strategies for conducting literature searches, are below:

  1. 1, 4-Dioxane;
  2. Methylene Chloride;
  3. 1-Bromopropane;
  4. N-Methylpyrolidone (NMP);
  5. Asbestos;
  6. Pigment Violet 29;
  7. Carbon Tetrachloride;
  8. Trichloroethylene;
  9. Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD); and
  10. Tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene).

Administrator Scott Pruitt signed them and they were released to the general public shortly thereafter.  They are expected to be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.  Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) will provide feedback on the final rules in upcoming memoranda on each final rule, as well as a memorandum on the draft guidance on developing risk evaluations.  Please look for these memoranda on our website under “Regulatory Developments.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On June 19, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency posted a memo authorizing the opening of comment periods for the public to comment on the risk evaluation process for the first ten chemicals it is evaluating under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to determine whether they “present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.”  Specifically, EPA states it is interested in “information from the public that could be useful to the Agency in conducting problem formulation,” which is the “next step in the process of conducting the required risk evaluations for these chemicals.”  Comments are due September 19, 2017.

EPA’s 2017 Annual Report on Risk Evaluations issued in February stated that it expected to issue a scoping document on each of the individual chemicals by June 19, 2017, which must include “the hazard(s), exposure(s), condition(s) of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation(s) the Administrator expects to consider in the evaluation.”  EPA has not yet issued the scoping documents, but is expected to do so soon. After the scoping documents have been published, EPA stated that it would “continue with the risk evaluation process as described in the statute and the associated Risk Evaluation Rule [to be issued in final on June 22, 2017], with the expectation to complete the risk evaluation in the 3-3.5 year timeframe required by law.”

The list of ten chemicals and their corresponding docket ID numbers are:

  1. 1, 4 Dioxane, EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0723;
  2. Methylene Chloride, EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0742;
  3. 1-Bromopropane, EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0741;
  4. N-Methylpyrolidone (NMP), EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0743;
  5. Asbestos, EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0736;
  6. Pigment Violet 29, EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0725;
  7. Carbon Tetrachloride, EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0733;
  8. Trichloroethylene, EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0737;
  9. Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD), EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0735; and
  10. Tetrachloroethylene, EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0732.

Revised TSCA requires that the three framework rules, which include the procedures for evaluating existing chemical risks rule (Risk Evaluation Rule), the procedures to prioritize chemicals for risk evaluation rule, and the requirements for TSCA Inventory notification (active-inactive) rule, be issued in final by June 22, 2017.   

More information on these framework rules will be available on our blog after they are issued in final.


 

By Charles M. Auer, James V. Aidala, and Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 27, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a Federal Register notice that it was denying a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 21 petition that requested regulatory action under Section 6 to “prohibit the purposeful addition of fluoridation chemicals to U.S. water supplies,” and that it was making available its response to the petition.  82 Fed. Reg. 11878.  The petition was received by EPA on November 23, 2016, and EPA had 90 days in which to respond by either granting or denying the requested action. 

  • EPA’s response was relatively comprehensive as it went through and provided its views on numerous aspects and issues at play including: 
  • EPA’s interpretation of the Section 6 provisions regarding conditions of use which asserts that TSCA requires EPA to comprehensively consider and address all conditions of use for a chemical or category of chemicals when considering and taking action under Section 6(a).  This point was first made in EPA’s proposed procedural rule for risk evaluations (82 Fed. Reg. 7562, Jan. 19, 2017) that is currently open for comment.
  • EPA’s belief that Congress, under the new law, did not intend to empower Section 21 petitioners for regulation under Section 6 to promote chemicals of particular concern and force expeditious action based on risks arising from individual uses of those chemicals (helpfully, in its response, EPA suggests use of a petition under the Administrative Procedure Act to the petitioners for such cases).
  • The scientific adequacy of the petitioners’ risks claims for the general public from exposure to fluoridation chemicals in drinking water.  EPA identified and discussed in some depth the numerous weaknesses it saw in health, exposure, and risk aspects.
  • The petitioners’ inadequate consideration of the public health benefits of fluoridation of drinking water.
  • Inadequate support by the petitioners for their belief that action was needed under TSCA rather than under the Safe Drinking Water Act, because of the latter’s purported limitations.

While comment could be offered on many of the points discussed in the decision, we limit our reactions to a few key points.  The first is that, given all of the work that is at play under new TSCA, we are frankly surprised that EPA saw the need for such a detailed and comprehensive response to the petitioners.  From our perspective, a much shorter and more focused response would have provided an adequate basis for the denial decision. 

The second is the way that EPA used its response as a platform to advocate for its interpretation that Section 6 requires that EPA consider all conditions of use in proceeding under that Section.  While this point was made in its proposed procedural rule for conducting risk evaluations, that rule was, as indicated, only a proposal and, moreover, it was issued under the prior Administration.  This decision, however, because it can be legally challenged by the petitioners, equates to a judicially reviewable act as the petitioners may commence a civil action in federal district court to compel EPA to initiate a rulemaking as requested in the petition.  Interesting, too, is the fact that the decision was issued under the new Trump Administration.  Given that the response was signed less than a month after the Inauguration, we do not want to over-interpret its significance (perhaps EPA was merely “reiterating” rather than “advocating” its position of record).  We also note in passing that it was signed on the same day that the new Administrator was sworn in (February 17).

Commentary

EPA’s response in this case is expansive and detailed, not only with respect to what EPA concluded the claimed risks of fluoride to be, but also regarding the considerable detail on what the agency apparently has concluded are required elements to qualify as sufficient to grant a Section 21 petition for TSCA Section 6(a) action in the future.  The granularity of the discussion is extraordinary.

That EPA disagreed over the possible risks of fluoride is not the most interesting part of the notice.  EPA’s response includes what in essence is the following argument about what is required to make a Section 21 argument that EPA can grant:  the petition must include a complete risk evaluation, including an analysis of all conditions of use, showing how the TSCA risk standard is exceeded, before EPA would grant the petition. 

EPA explicitly states, for example, that if a petition showed that a chemical use clearly exceeds the TSCA risk standard, and did not include all the conditions of use, EPA would still deny the petition to initiate action to control the risk.  The notice states (at 11880):

  • EPA recognizes that information on a single condition of use, could, in certain instances, suffice to demonstrate that a chemical substance, as a whole, presents an unreasonable risk.  Nonetheless, EPA concludes that such information does not fulfill a petitioner’s burden to justify “a rule under [TSCA Section 6],” under TSCA Section 21, since the information would merely justify a subset of an adequate rule.”

So even if a chemical use is shown to cause great harm, it would not merit EPA granting the petition since it is not a complete risk evaluation as EPA wishes to define it.  The notice explains EPA’s rationale for this position, essentially arguing that since EPA must assess “all conditions of use” in any control rule they might promulgate, then any outside petition must include all of the same homework before it can be granted.

This seems to obviate the very purpose of Section 21 petitions for Section 6 action, which in the past has been viewed as one way for the public to identify risks of concern to EPA which, for whatever reason, may not be on EPA’s radar.  This asserted view, that only a comprehensive risk evaluation considering all conditions of use will suffice, presents a very high threshold for action -- and seemingly an impossibly high threshold to move EPA to act.

The petitioners in this case may decide to challenge the EPA decision.  Activists concerned about the possible risks of fluoride have in the past been persistent and dogged about their cause.  In this decision, however, there is potentially more than a disagreement over possible risks of fluoride; there might also be arguments over what is or is not sufficient for Section 21 petitions to be granted, or possibly about EPA’s general interpretation, as elaborated in the denial notice and in the risk evaluation procedural rule, that new TSCA does not provide discretion for EPA to evaluate less than all conditions of use in new actions under Section 6.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On February 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its 2017 Annual Report on Risk Evaluations.  Per Section 26(n)(2) of the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA is directed to publish an annual plan at the beginning of each calendar year identifying the chemical substances that will undergo risk evaluations during that year – both risk evaluations that will be initiated and that will be completed -- the resources necessary for completion, and the status and schedule for ongoing evaluations.

Per amended TSCA Section 6(b)(4), on December 19, 2016, EPA designated ten chemical substances for evaluation to determine whether they presented an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.  Those chemicals are:

  • 1, 4 Dioxane;
  • Methylene Chloride;
  • 1-Bromopropane;
  • N-Methylpyrolidone;
  • Asbestos;
  • Pigment Violet 29;
  • Carbon Tetrachloride;
  • Trichloroethylene;
  • Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD); and
  • Tetrachloroethylene.

The report provides an update pertaining to the risk evaluations of these ten chemicals.  Risk evaluations on these chemicals have already begun, and EPA anticipates issuing a scoping document for each of them by June 19, 2017.  The scoping document will include “the hazard(s), exposure(s), condition(s) of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation(s) the Administrator expects to consider in the evaluation.”  EPA has established a docket for each of the ten chemicals and is holding a public meeting on February 14, 2017, to present information on the specific uses and conditions of use for the chemicals.  EPA is currently accepting written comments and materials in the individual dockets until March 15, 2017.

Under Section 6(4)(G) of TSCA, EPA is required to complete these risk evaluations within three to three and a half years.  EPA’s initial report to Congress issued on January 18, 2017, detailed the resources it needed for completion of the risk evaluations.

More information on EPA’s proposed processes for prioritizing and evaluating chemicals beyond these first ten is available in our memoranda EPA Proposes Procedures to Prioritize Chemicals for Risk Evaluation under TSCA and EPA Releases Proposed Chemical Risk Evaluation Process under New TSCA.


 
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