Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

It’s Time To Submit Annual Toxic Release Inventory Reports

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Jun 27, 2019

Chemical spillSection 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA, also referred to as SARA Title III) requires selected facilities to file toxic chemical release inventory reports with EPA and their state, on one of two forms (Form R or Form A). This program is often referred to as the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. Filings are due every July 1, so facilities that know or suspect they’re covered should be preparing their annual submissions. The remainder of this blog summarizes TRI requirements.

Which Criteria Determine Whether TRI Requirements Apply?

A facility is subject to section 313 if it meets all three of the criteria described below.

  • Facility Type (line(s) of business activities)

The first criterion is the type of facility. They include the following:

  • Facilities classified in SIC codes 20-39 (beginning in reporting year 1987; EPA now uses the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code corresponding to these SIC codes).

  • Federal facilities regardless of SIC code designation, that also meet the other two criteria.

  • Seven additional sets of facilities, which may be required to report:

    • Metal mining (SIC code 10), except for 1011 (iron ores), 1081 (metal mining services), and 1094 (uranium-radium-vanadium ores);

    • Coal mining (SIC code 12), except 1241 (coal mining services);

    • Electric utilities (SIC code 4911 (electric services), 4931 (electric and other services combined), 4939 (combination utilities, not elsewhere classified))for coal- and oil-fired generating plants only;

    • Commercial hazardous waste treatment (SIC code 4953) facilities subject to permits under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA);

    • Chemical and allied products, wholesale (SIC code 5169);

    • Petroleum bulk terminals and plants (SIC code 5171); and

    • Solvent recovery systems (SIC code 7389), limited to those engaged in solvent recovery on a contract or fee basis.

  • Numbers of employees

Section 313 applies to facilities that meet the other two criteria and also have 10 or more full-time employees. EPA interprets this based on a 2,000-hour work year, and in applying this section includes hours worked by all full-time, part-time, and contract employees.

  • Types and quantities of chemicals

TRI reporting covers hundreds of chemicals, grouped on two lists and with reporting thresholds designed to reflect the chemicals’ relative hazards. First, since its adoption Section 313 has applied to a changing list of “toxic chemicals,” which presently consists of over 600 chemicals, “chemical categories,” and “chemical families” (i.e., including a variety of compounds containing targeted chemicals). Second, beginning with reports due in 2000, EPA also provides a separate list of “persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals.”

A facility must file either a Form R or Form A (see below) for each listed chemical that is manufactured, processed, or otherwise used in total quantities during the reporting year above the following thresholds:

  • 25,000 pounds of a toxic chemical manufactured or processed at the facility during the calendar year;

  • 10,000 pounds of a toxic chemical “otherwise used” at the facility during the calendar year; or

  • More than specified quantities of PBT chemical manufactured, processed or otherwise used (100 pounds for lead compounds, 21 listed polycyclic aromatic compounds or 6 other chemicals; 10 pounds for mercury compounds or 10 other chemicals; or 0.1 grams for 10 specified dioxins and dioxin-like chemicals).

Each facility compares total amounts of each chemical against the applicable threshold. Exemptions apply, so that facilities are not required to include quantities of listed chemicals that:

  • Exist in concentrations of less than 1% of a mixture or less than 0.1% of a mixture when the chemical is a carcinogen listed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Toxicology Program, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

  • Are structural components of your facility.

  • Are in food, drugs, cosmetics, or other items for personal use.

  • Are used in motor vehicle maintenance.

  • Exist as solids in manufactured items and do not release toxic chemicals under normal conditions of use.

  • Are used in process water and noncontact cooling water drawn from the environment or municipal sources.

  • Are in intake air used either as compressed air or as part of combustion.

  • Are used in a research lab, hospital, or other medical facility under direct supervision of a technically qualified individual.

What Information Is Reported?

EPA promulgates Form R and Form A, along with extensive information on how to calculate and report. Both reports are now submitted electronically, through EPA’s TRI-ME software. Each chemical that meets a reporting threshold is reported separately on its own Form.

  • What does Form R require?

Form R requires the following information:

  • Name, location, and principal business of the reporting facility. EPA assigns TRI facility information numbers.

  • Whether trade secret information claims are being made.

  • Certification by the owner, operator, or a “senior management official” of the truth and completeness of information, and the reasonableness of assumptions.

  • Additional facility identification information

  • For each listed toxic or PBT chemical:

    • Chemical information (name, CAS number, mixture, etc.).

    • Whether the chemical is manufactured, processed, or otherwise used, and each chemical’s general category.

    • An estimate of the maximum amount (in ranges) of the chemical present onsite at any time during the preceding calendar year.

    • For each waste stream, the method of recycling, treatment, or disposal, and estimate of the “treatment efficiency”.

    • Estimated annual total of each toxic chemical entering each environmental medium (onsite, and via transportation and offsite management).

    • Source reduction and waste management (including recycling) activities.

  • What does Form A require?

EPA allows qualifying facilities to use an “alternate reporting” method, based on an alternative reporting threshold. A facility can file a Form A (“certification statement”) instead of a Form R for any listed toxic chemical manufactured, processed, or otherwise used in quantities up to 1 million pounds in a reporting year, if the quantity of that chemical actually released (as defined above) does not exceed limits set by EPA.

Facilities may also use Form A to report releases of PBT chemicals (except for dioxins and dioxin-like chemicals), as long as the total amount of that chemical manufactured, processed, or otherwise used does not exceed 1 million pounds; amounts “released” under Section 313’s definition do not exceed 500 pounds, and actual releases to the environment (including through onsite or offsite waste disposal) are zero pounds

As is true throughout section 313, each listed chemical is to be considered separately for reporting.

What’s Next?

Facilities subject to TRI reporting must submit Reporting Year 2018 information by July 1, 2019

Self-Evaluation checklist

Do any of the organization’s facilities manufacture or otherwise use any listed TRI chemical, including separately listed PBT chemicals, in an annual total quantity that exceeds threshold quantities?

If so, has each such facility prepare and submitted information to EP:

  •   Using Form R

  •    Using Form A

Where Can I Go For More Information?

Specialty Technical Publishers (STP) provides a variety of single-law and multi-law services, intended to facilitate clients’ understanding of and compliance with requirements. 

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About the Author

Jon Elliott is President of Touchstone Environmental and has been a major contributor to STP’s product range for over 25 years. 

Mr. Elliott has a diverse educational background. In addition to his Juris Doctor (University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1981), he holds a Master of Public Policy (Goldman School of Public Policy [GSPP], UC Berkeley, 1980), and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Princeton University, 1977).

Mr. Elliott is active in professional and community organizations. In addition, he is a past chairman of the Board of Directors of the GSPP Alumni Association, and past member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California's Environmental Law Section (including past chair of its Legislative Committee).

You may contact Mr. Elliott directly at:

photo credit: GPT-environmental Chemical Spill via photopin (license)

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