EPA Suspends Chemical Reporting Until Strict Changes Finalized

By Jonathan Bardelline of GreenBiz.com

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will let companies hold off on reporting some information about chemicals while it makes changes that will require companies to report additional information and more frequently.

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, companies that manufacture or import any of about 83,000 chemicals are required to report data on how they use, process or manufacture those chemicals.

Current rules say updates need to be made every five years and say chemicals needed to be reported only if certain amounts are produced. Proposed changes, which would affect a large number of chemical manufacturers, would:

  • Make reporting more frequent, at every four years;
  • Lower the threshold for when chemicals need to be reported on;
  • Require additional information to be turned over;
  • Require electronic reporting.

The EPA put out the proposed changes in August 2010, and is suspending the next reporting submission period — June 1 to Sept. 30, 2011 — until those changes are finalized so that the changes don’t occur in the middle of a reporting period, the EPA announced.

The current rules, which were put in place by changes made in 2003, require reporting every five years by companies that manufacture or import 25,000 pounds or more of a chemical at one site. Companies that manufacture more than 300,000 pounds of a chemical in a reporting year must also submit information.

Companies have to submit information such as how many workers are potentially exposed to chemicals, how the chemicals will be used, maximum concentrations and if chemicals will be in products intended for children.

The proposed changes would shorten the reporting frequency to every four years (which was the frequency before the 2003 changes) and also eliminate the thresholds for reporting. Companies would also be required to file reports electronically and submit additional information, such as if chemical substances or byproducts are being recycled, reprocessed or reused.

The EPA has not announced a timeframe for when it expects the changes to be finalized and reporting to resume.

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