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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

As reported in our May 29, 2020, blog item, on May 28, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report entitled EPA Toxic Substances Control Act Consent Orders Need Better Coordination.  OIG conducted the evaluation to determine what actions EPA took to verify compliance with the requirements of a 2009 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Premanufacture Notice Consent Order.  OIG’s recommendations included that EPA implement a process for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) to review and approve the terms and conditions of TSCA Section 5(e) Consent Orders that it is responsible for verifying during compliance monitoring and enforcement activities.  On August 5, 2020, OIG announced that EPA has provided an update to its response to the OIG report.  EPA states that the Office of Civil Enforcement/Waste and Chemical Enforcement Division (OECA/WCED) and the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics/Chemical Control Division (OCSPP/CCD) have developed a TSCA Section 5(e) Order Boilerplate that “clarifies and strengthens the provisions of the Order for New Chemical Substances.”  According to EPA, in 2020, OCSPP/CCD and OECA/WCED established and implemented a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to ensure that WCED, the office responsible for compliance monitoring and enforcement activities, reviews and approves the terms and conditions of TSCA Section 5(e) Orders developed by CCD.  EPA notes that the establishment of the SOP is intended to meet OIG’s recommendation.  EPA states that the Review and Approval Protocol “provides sufficient assurance that compliance and enforcement requirements in TSCA 5(e) orders will be reviewed and approved by OCSPP and OECA.”  OIG commented on EPA’s updated response, stating that it now considers this recommendation complete.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On June 3, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a final significant new use rule (SNUR) on long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate (PFAS) chemical substances.  On March 3, 2020, EPA published a proposed supplemental SNUR for LCPFAC chemical substances that would make inapplicable the exemption for persons who import a subset of LCPFAC chemical substances as part of surface coatings on articles.  85 Fed. Reg. 12479.  Under the proposed supplemental SNUR, issued under Section 5(a)(2) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), this subset of LCPFAC chemical substances also includes the salts and precursors of these perfluorinated carboxylates.  The supplemental proposal would require importers to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing the import of these chemical substances in certain articles for the significant new use described in the proposed SNUR.  The required significant new use notification would initiate EPA’s evaluation of the conditions of use associated with the intended significant new use.  Manufacturing (including import) or processing for the significant new use would be prohibited from commencing until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and taken such actions as are required in association with that determination.  As noted in our February 28, 2020, memorandum, “Proposed Supplemental SNUR Would Remove Exemption for LCPFAC Chemical Substances Used as Surface Coatings on Articles,” one of the goals of the proposed supplemental SNUR is to establish the ground rules for EPA’s consideration of the article exemption in future SNUR actions.  The final SNUR that is under OMB review is not publicly available, so it remains to be seen whether EPA has successfully established policies and procedures that both align with statutory requirements and also are workable, effective, predictable, transparent, and justified scientifically.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

On May 28, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report entitled EPA Toxic Substances Control Act Consent Orders Need Better Coordination.  OIG conducted the evaluation to determine what actions EPA took to verify compliance with the requirements of the 2009 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Premanufacture Notice Consent Order with DuPont (responsibilities transferred to The Chemours Company in 2015) to prevent the release of GenX chemicals in the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.  OIG notes that GenX chemicals are a type of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in surface water, groundwater, drinking water, rain water, and air emissions.  OIG found insufficient communication and coordination between the two EPA offices responsible for developing and enforcing the consent order requirements designed to reduce risks in the manufacture of GenX chemicals.  Under the 2009 Consent Order, EPA required DuPont to determine how to recover and capture 99 percent of GenX’s manufacturing discharges and air emissions.  The Consent Order was not reviewed or approved by the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA), which is responsible for conducting inspections to verify compliance, however.  Until June 2017, EPA’s actions to verify compliance with the 2009 Consent Order and new chemicals testing requirements consisted of tracking and reviewing information provided by the manufacturer.  According to OIG, following the local media coverage of the presence of GenX chemicals in the Cape Fear River in 2017, Region 4 and EPA contractors conducted EPA’s first on-site compliance monitoring inspection at the Fayetteville Works facility, which manufactures GenX.  OIG found that the Region 4 inspectors were unaware of the 2009 Consent Order and its requirements until the inspection was requested by EPA headquarters.
 
OIG recommends that EPA establish and implement processes:

  1. For OECA to review and approve the terms and conditions of TSCA Section 5(e) Consent Orders that it is responsible for verifying during compliance monitoring and enforcement activities; and
     
  2. To provide final TSCA Section 5(e) Consent Orders to regions and verify that the regions have the final consent orders.

OIG states that EPA “did not provide an acceptable corrective action for Recommendation 1, and we consider this recommendation unresolved.”  For Recommendation 2, EPA provided an alternative course of action that OIG finds acceptable.  OIG considers Recommendation 2 resolved with corrective action pending.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On March 3, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a proposed supplemental significant new use rule (SNUR) issued under Section 5(a)(2) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) chemical substances to make inapplicable the exemption for persons who import a subset of LCPFAC chemical substances as part of surface coatings on articles.  85 Fed. Reg. 12479.  Under the proposed supplemental SNUR, this subset of LCPFAC chemical substances also includes the salts and precursors of these perfluorinated carboxylates.  The supplemental proposal would require importers to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing the import of these chemical substances in certain articles for the significant new use described in the proposed SNUR.  The required significant new use notification would initiate EPA’s evaluation of the conditions of use associated with the intended significant new use.  Manufacturing (including import) or processing for the significant new use would be prohibited from commencing until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and taken such actions as are required in association with that determination.  Comments on the proposed supplemental SNUR are due April 17, 2020.  More information is available in our February 28, 2020, memorandum, “Proposed Supplemental SNUR Would Remove Exemption for LCPFAC Chemical Substances Used as Surface Coatings on Articles.”

 

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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on February 20, 2020, a proposed supplemental significant new use rule (SNUR) issued under Section 5(a)(2) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) chemical substances to make inapplicable the exemption for persons who import a subset of LCPFAC chemical substances as part of surface coatings on articles.  Under the proposed supplemental SNUR, this subset of LCPFAC chemical substances also includes the salts and precursors of these perfluorinated carboxylates.  The supplemental proposal would require importers to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing the import of these chemical substances in certain articles for the significant new use described in the proposed SNUR.  The required significant new use notification would initiate EPA’s evaluation of the conditions of use associated with the intended significant new use.  Manufacturing (including import) or processing for the significant new use would be prohibited from commencing until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and taken such actions as are required in association with that determination.  EPA posted a pre-publication version of the proposed supplemental SNUR on its website.  Once EPA publishes the proposed supplemental SNUR in the Federal Register, a 45-day comment period will begin.
 
In a January 21, 2015, proposed LCPFAC SNUR, EPA proposed to require notification of significant new uses from persons who import a subset of LCPFAC chemical substances as part of all articles.  The supplemental proposal narrows the category of articles to which the proposed LCPFAC SNUR would apply to those where the subset of LCPFAC chemicals are part of a surface coating.  EPA states that it is proposing this action to be responsive to the article consideration provision at Section 5(a)(5), added with the passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which states that articles can be subject to notification requirements as a significant new use provided that EPA makes an affirmative finding in a rule that the reasonable potential for exposure to a chemical from an article or category of articles justifies notification.
 
More information on the supplemental proposal will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.

 

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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
As reported in our December 20, 2019, blog item, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on December 20, 2019, an updated version of the “Working Approach” document that builds upon EPA’s November 2017 “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework:  Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCA.”  On January 2, 2020, EPA published a Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the updated document and beginning a 45-day comment period.  85 Fed. Reg. 99.  Comments are due February 18, 2020.
 
The updated document explains its approach for making one of the five affirmative determinations on new chemical notices under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):

  • The chemical or significant new use presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment;
  • Available information is insufficient to allow EPA to make a reasoned evaluation of the health and environmental effects associated with the chemical or significant new use;
  • In the absence of sufficient information, the chemical or significant new use may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment;
  • The chemical is or will be produced in substantial quantities and either enters or may enter the environment in substantial quantities or there is or may be significant or substantial exposure to the chemical; or
  • The chemical or significant new use is not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.

EPA notes that the updated document reflects feedback from a 2017 public meeting and comment period and EPA’s additional experience implementing the 2016 amendments to TSCA Section 5, and includes:

  • Additional clarification and detail throughout;
  • General guiding principles and concepts for making determinations;
  • Decision-making logic and key questions that EPA must address; and
  • Example applications of the Working Approach to reach each of the affirmative determinations under TSCA Section 5(a)(3).

EPA has posted a document summarizing public comments received on the 2017 document and its responses.  More information is available in our December 20, 2019, memorandum, “EPA Releases Updated Version of ‘Working Approach’ Document for New Chemicals Review.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on December 20, 2019, an updated version of the “Working Approach” document that builds upon EPA’s November 2017 “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework:  Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCA.”  EPA discussed the updated document, “TSCA New Chemical Determinations:  A Working Approach for Making Determinations under TSCA Section 5,” at a public meeting on December 10, 2019.  EPA states that the updated document explains its approach for making one of the five affirmative determinations on new chemical notices under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):

  • The chemical or significant new use presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment;
  • Available information is insufficient to allow EPA to make a reasoned evaluation of the health and environmental effects associated with the chemical or significant new use;
  • In the absence of sufficient information, the chemical or significant new use may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment;
  • The chemical is or will be produced in substantial quantities and either enters or may enter the environment in substantial quantities or there is or may be significant or substantial exposure to the chemical; or
  • The chemical or significant new use is not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.

EPA notes that the updated document reflects feedback from a 2017 public meeting and comment period and EPA’s additional experience implementing the 2016 amendments to TSCA Section 5, and includes:

  • Additional clarification and detail throughout;
  • General guiding principles and concepts for making determinations;
  • Decision-making logic and key questions that EPA must address; and
  • Example applications of the Working Approach to reach each of the affirmative determinations under TSCA Section 5(a)(3).

EPA has posted a document summarizing public comments received on the 2017 document and its responses.  Upon publication in the Federal Register, EPA will accept comment on the updated document for 45 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0684 at https://www.regulations.gov.  More information will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public meeting on December 10, 2019, to engage with interested stakeholders on the implementation of EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) New Chemicals program.  At the meeting, EPA will:

  • Provide an overview of EPA’s updated “Working Approach” document that builds upon EPA’s November 2017 “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework:  Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCA”;
  • Demonstrate how EPA has used concepts in the “Working Approach” document to reach conclusions and make determinations under TSCA Section 5(a)(3) using specific case examples;
  • Provide an update on confidential business information (CBI) process improvements and clarifications; and
  • Discuss its progress on transparency in the TSCA New Chemicals program.

By the end of 2019, EPA intends to announce the availability of the updated “Working Approach” document and provide an opportunity for written public comment.  EPA states that feedback from the public meeting and comments received will help inform its ongoing efforts to improve the way EPA reviews new chemicals under TSCA.  Details regarding the meeting are available in the prepublication version of the Federal Register notice announcing the meeting.

Background

EPA states in the prepublication version of the Federal Register notice that after considering comments received on the 2017 version of the “Working Approach” document and based on additional implementation experience, EPA is updating the “Working Approach” document.  Later in December 2019, EPA will announce the availability of the updated document after the public meeting and will hold a public comment period.  According to the notice, EPA expects the updated document to provide further clarity and detail on EPA’s approach and practices, including:  (1) EPA’s general guiding principles and concepts for making determinations on new chemical notices submitted to EPA under TSCA Section 5; (2) the decision-making logic and the key questions that EPA must address; and (3) a discussion of how EPA might apply the working approach to reach one of the five new chemical determinations allowable under the statute.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on November 13, 2019, that it published “new, easily-searchable” web pages displaying information on:

EPA notes that it is required to publish information pertaining to new chemical submissions under TSCA Section 5.  EPA states that historically, these data have been, and will continue to be, made available monthly in the Federal Register via www.regulations.gov.  According to EPA, the new web pages “are a much easier way for the public to access information about new chemical submissions.”  The web pages provide information, such as the date the notice was received by EPA, the case number, and the chemical substance identity (to the extent that such information is not subject to a confidential business information (CBI) claim).  EPA states that it will update the web pages monthly.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, and Carla N. Hutton
 
On September 25, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted a proposed significant new use rule (SNUR) on long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate (PFAS) chemical substances to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.  The item on the rulemaking in EPA’s Spring 2019 Regulatory Agenda states that in 2015, EPA proposed amending the SNURs under Section 5(a)(2) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for LCPFAC chemical substances and for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or its salts.  80 Fed. Reg. 2885 (Jan. 21, 2015).  Specifically, EPA proposed to amend the SNUR for LCPFAC chemical substances by designating as a significant new use manufacturing (including importing) or processing of an identified subset of LCPFAC chemical substances for any use that will not be ongoing after December 31, 2015, and all other LCPFAC chemical substances for which there are currently no ongoing uses.  EPA also proposed to make inapplicable the exemption for persons who import LCPFAC chemical substances as part of articles.  In addition, EPA proposed to amend the SNUR for PFAS chemical substances that would make inapplicable the exemption for persons who import PFAS chemical substances as part of carpets.  Persons subject to these SNURs would be required to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing such manufacture or processing.  The required notifications would initiate EPA’s evaluation of the intended use within the applicable review period.  Manufacture and processing for the significant new use would be unable to commence until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and taken such actions as are required in association with that determination.
 
EPA states that it is developing a supplemental proposal for the LCPFAC SNUR amendments to make inapplicable the exemption for persons who import a subset of LCPFAC chemical substances as part of certain articles.  According to EPA, this supplemental proposal is necessary to be responsive to the article consideration provision in TSCA Section 5(a)(5) that was added with the 2016 amendments to TSCA.  Under the provision, articles can be subject to notification requirements as a significant new use provided that EPA makes an affirmative finding in a rule that the reasonable potential for exposure to a chemical from an article or category of articles justifies notification.  Insofar as this new provision has not been used previously for chemical substances with a history of prior import in articles, EPA’s approach to and its arguments in making this required affirmative finding will be important for all stakeholders to consider carefully.


 
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