By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on December 27, 2021, that it is expanding the scope of Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements to include certain contract sterilization facilities that are not currently reporting on ethylene oxide releases. EPA states that under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), “the EPA Administrator has the discretionary authority to extend TRI reporting requirements to specific facilities based on a chemical’s toxicity, the facility’s proximity to other facilities that release the chemical or to population centers, any history of releases of the chemical at the facility, or other factors the Administrator deems appropriate.” According to EPA, exposure to ethylene oxide can cause cancer in humans and damage DNA. Other effects include eye, skin, nose, throat, and lung irritation, as well as harm to the brain and nervous system. Workers in facilities that use ethylene oxide and people in communities located adjacent to these facilities, including historically underserved communities, have the highest chance of being exposed to ethylene oxide. EPA notes that because their bodies are still growing, children are expected to be more susceptible to the toxic effects caused by ethylene oxide.
In October 2021, EPA sent letters to 31 facilities providing notice that EPA was considering exercising its discretionary authority. After corresponding with many of the facilities, EPA has issued a determination extending TRI reporting requirements to 29 of the 31 facilities for ethylene oxide and to 16 of the 31 facilities for ethylene glycol. According to EPA, because ethylene glycol is produced using ethylene oxide, these chemicals may co-occur at facilities. EPA states that it believes these 29 contract sterilization facilities, which do not currently report to TRI, use the highest amounts of ethylene oxide in the contract sterilization sector. The facilities are likely to exceed the 10,000 pounds per year “otherwise used” TRI reporting threshold for ethylene oxide. EPA notes that it considered additional factors, such as the facilities’ proximity to a population center (e.g., the number of people, including children under the age of five living near the facilities), their history of releases of ethylene oxide and ethylene glycol (e.g., past receipt of TRI reporting forms on ethylene oxide and ethylene glycol from these facilities), and other factors the Administrator deemed appropriate (e.g., proximity of the facilities to nearby schools and communities, especially those with potential environmental justice concerns and concerns for facility workers).
EPA did not to extend TRI reporting requirements to two of the 31 facilities initially contacted. According to EPA, one of the facilities conveyed to EPA that they had sold the establishment they previously used for sterilization and no longer perform sterilization work at that facility. Another facility informed EPA that their facility uses ethylene oxide in quantities far below the amount that would trigger TRI reporting in a year due to their sterilization technology and scale of operations.
Beginning in January 2022, these 29 facilities should start tracking their activities involving ethylene oxide (and ethylene glycol, if applicable) releases and other waste management quantities as required by EPCRA, similar to any other facility subject to TRI reporting requirements. If reporting thresholds are met, the facilities must submit TRI data beginning in 2023.
Thursday, September 9, 2021
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (EDT)
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is pleased to present a complimentary webinar focused on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) regulations on September 9, 2021, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (EDT). B&C Managing Partner Lynn L. Bergeson and Director of Chemistry Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., will discuss three actions recently taken by EPA:
- Proposing a rule designed to obtain comprehensive data on more than 1,000 PFAS manufactured in the United States;
- Withdrawing guidance that EPA believes weakened its July 2020 significant new use rule (SNUR) restricting certain long-chain PFAS; and
- Publishing a final rule that incorporates three additional PFAS into the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) maintained under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
The proposed rule intended to obtain comprehensive data on PFAS would require all manufacturers (including importers) of PFAS in any year since 2011 to report information related to chemical identity, categories of use, volumes manufactured and processed, byproducts, environmental and health effects, worker exposure, and disposal.
As a result of these EPA regulatory actions, companies that never expected to need to know the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) are now finding themselves in EPA’s crosshairs. This webinar will explore the full scope of these potential rules, how entities can determine if they will be subject to reporting, and the specific recordkeeping requirements that have been proposed.
Register for the webinar now
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has prepared a strategic plan for the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) for fiscal years (FY) 2021-2023. The strategic plan outlines how OPPT intends to fulfill its obligations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), and related EPA policies and procedures “in ways that value science, protect people and the environment, and increase transparency for stakeholders and the general public.” The strategic plan includes new vision, mission, and values statements for OPPT. Priority areas include:
- New Chemicals: The New Chemicals Program manages potential risks to human health and the environment from chemicals new to the marketplace. The program identifies conditions to be placed on the use of new chemicals before they enter into commerce;
- Existing Chemicals: TSCA requires EPA to evaluate the safety of existing chemicals through prioritization, risk evaluation, and risk management. Ensuring the safety of existing chemicals requires collecting and analyzing information about the chemicals, developing additional information, conducting analyses to evaluate risk, and taking regulatory action on proper conditions of use for each chemical;
- Pollution Prevention/Safer Choice/Toxics Release Inventory (TRI): OPPT supports a suite of programs that are intended to reduce, eliminate, or prevent pollution at its source as an alternative to pollution control and waste disposal. Safer Choice helps consumers, businesses, and purchasers find products that contain ingredients that are safer for human health and the environment. The TRI Program collects information to track industry progress in reducing waste generation and moving toward safer waste management alternatives;
- Transparency and Stakeholder Engagement: OPPT is committed to providing the public with the information needed to understand EPA’s chemical evaluations. It continually seeks more productive means of engaging with interested stakeholders through public comment during rulemaking, Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) workgroups, and other means;
- Human Capital: OPPT strives to provide a healthy and supportive working environment, support for career development, and communication on issues that are important to its colleagues. It closely collaborates with its partners in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention’s (OCSPP) Office of Program Support to ensure that the basics of being an OPPT employee, such as timekeeping, personnel actions, and equipment, are easy to manage; and
- Efficiency and Enabling Tools: OPPT’s priority areas depend on a wide range of data from manufacturers, researchers, and the public. Its employees need to know how to work with these data and to have access to tools that facilitate access to and analysis of these data. OPPT is committed to increasing its ability to manage projects effectively through a unified approach that ensures timely deliverables, increases its ability to track its work, and simplifies its processes.