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Introduction

Source: EPA 1994 Toxics Release Inventory
Public Data Release


What is the Toxics Release Inventory?

The Toxics Release Inventory, or TRI, is a publicly available database that contains specific toxic chemical release and transfer information from manufacturing facilities throughout the United States. This inventory was established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), which Congress passed to promote planning for chemical emergencies and to provide information to the public about the presence and release of toxic and hazardous chemicals in their communities.

Following passage of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, the TRI was expanded to include mandatory reporting of additional waste management and pollution prevention activities. The information collected under these laws can be used by the public to identify facilities and chemical release patterns that warrant further study and analysis. Combined with hazard and exposure information, TRI has proven to be an invaluable tool for risk identification.

Each year, manufacturing facilities meeting certain thresholds must report their estimated releases and transfers of listed toxic chemicals to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to the state or tribal entity in whose jurisdiction the facility is located. The TRI list for 1994 included 343 chemicals and 22 chemical categories. A separate report, called a Form R, is required for each chemical the facility has manufactured, processed, or otherwise used in amounts exceeding the thresholds.

Reports for each calendar year are due by July 1 of the following year. After completion of data entry and data quality assurance activities, EPA makes the data available to the public in printed reports, in a computer database, and through a variety of other information products. States also make available to the public copies of the forms filed by facilities in their jurisdiction.

This document summarizes data collected for calendar year 1994. Industry reporting forms for 1994 were due to EPA and the states by July 1, 1995. This document also provides basic data for the two preceding years (1992 and 1993) and for the baseline year (1988) for comparison purposes. Although the first data were collected for calendar year 1987, 1988 has been selected as the baseline year because of concerns about the data quality of industry's first-year submissions. The on-line computer database and the CD-ROM version of the database contain the data collected for all years, including years not summarized in this report.

Who Must Report?

Manufacturing facilities that have the equivalent of 10 or more full- time employees and meet the established thresholds for manufacturing, processing, or otherwise using listed chemicals must report their releases and transfers. Manufacturing facilities are defined as facilities in Standard Industrial Classification primary codes 20-39, which include, among others: chemicals, petroleum refining, primary metals, fabricated metals, paper, plastics, and transportation equipment. Thresholds for manufacturing and processing are currently 25,000 pounds for each listed chemical, while the threshold for otherwise using is 10,000 pounds per chemical. Beginning with the 1995 reporting year, certain facilities will be able to take advantage of an alternate reporting threshold.

What Must be Reported?

Each year, facilities report to TRI the amounts of toxic chemicals released to the air, water and land and the amounts of chemicals transferred off-site for treatment and disposal. Facilities provide extensive identifying information, such as name, location, type of business, contact names, name of parent company, and environmental permit numbers. They also provide information about the manufacture, process, and use of the listed chemical at the facility and the maximum amount of the chemical on-site during the year. Facilities also provide information about methods used to treat waste at the site and the efficiencies of those treatment methods. In addition to information about the amount of toxic chemicals sent off-site, facilities also must specify the destinations of those transfers.

Beginning with the 1991 reports, facilities were required to provide additional information about source reduction activities and about waste management activities such as recycling. Companies must also provide a production index that can help relate changes in reported quantities of toxic chemicals in waste to changes in production. These additional data elements facilitate tracking of industry progress in reducing waste generation and moving towards safer management alternatives. While not an absolute measure of pollution prevention, the additional data provide new insight into the complete toxics cycle.

What are the Benefits and Uses of the Data?

The TRI program gives the public unprecedented direct access to toxic chemical release and transfer data at the local, state, regional, and national level. Responsible use of this information can allow the public to identify potential concerns, gain a better understanding of potential risks, and work with industry and government to reduce toxic chemical releases and the risks associated with them. When combined with hazard and exposure data, this information can allow informed environmental priority setting at the local level.

Federal, state, and local governments can use the data to compare facilities or geographic areas, to identify hotspots, to evaluate existing environmental programs, to more effectively set regulatory priorities, and to track pollution control and waste reduction progress. TRI data, in conjunction with demographic data, can help governments and the public identify potential environmental justice concerns.

Industry can use the data to obtain an overview of use and release of toxic chemicals, to identify and reduce costs associated with toxic waste, to identify promising areas of pollution prevention, to establish reduction targets, and to measure and document progress toward reduction goals. The public availability of the data has prompted many facilities to work with their communities to develop effective strategies for reducing environmental and human health risks posed by toxic chemical releases.

What are the Limitations of the Data?

While the TRI includes more than 75,000 reports from about 23,000 facilities each year, it captures only a portion of all toxic chemical releases nationwide. Facilities with fewer than 10 employees and facilities that do not meet chemical thresholds are not required to file TRI reports. Non-manufacturing facilities currently are not required to report, although EPA is examining industry groups for possible addition to the reporting requirements. TRI does not account for toxic emissions from automobiles and many other non-industrial sources. Not all toxic chemicals are listed under TRI, although chemical coverage was greatly expanded for the 1995 reporting year.

TRI requires the reporting of estimated data and does not mandate that facilities monitor their releases. Various estimation techniques are used where monitoring data are not available, and EPA has published estimation guidance for the regulated community. Variations between facilities can result from the use of different estimation methodologies. Some facilities may not be fully complying with the reporting requirements. These factors should be taken into account when considering data accuracy and completeness.

As discussed above, the TRI data summarized in this report reflect chemical releases, transfers, and waste management activities that occurred in the 1994 calendar year. Release and transfer patterns can change dramatically from one year to the next, so it is important to recognize that current facility activities may be different than those reported for 1994.

TRI reports reflect releases of chemicals, not exposures of the public to those chemicals. Release estimates alone are not sufficient to determine exposure or to calculate potential adverse effects on human health and the environment. Although additional information is necessary to assess exposure and risk, TRI data can be used to identify areas of potential concern.

Program Accomplishments and Future Directions

EPA faced considerable challenges to the TRI program in 1995. Budget uncertainties and two separate Federal government shutdowns resulted in significant delays for many program efforts. The TRI program faced more specific challenges in 1995 in the form of proposed legislation and multiple lawsuits which, if successful, would have resulted in the deletion of a significant number of EPCRA section 313 chemicals. Four separate industry lawsuits were filed in 1995 challenging various portions of the 1994 rule which added 286 chemicals and chemical categories to the EPCRA section 313 toxic chemical list. On April 30, 1996, the four lawsuits were defeated on all counts.

On August 8, 1995, President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and Administrator Browner traveled to Baltimore to announce the signing of Executive Order 12969 on Federal Acquisition and Community Right-to-Know. This Executive Order requires Federal contractors whose facilities are currently covered under EPCRA section 313 to continue to file TRI reporting forms for the life of their contracts. The President also signed a directive to the Administrator to expedite two major initiatives: consideration of the rulemaking for adding to the list of currently covered facilities, and development and implementation of an expedited, open, and transparent process for considering reporting of chemical use information.

Both of these efforts have been high priorities for EPA, and the President's emphasis heightened efforts to move these two projects forward. Throughout 1995, EPA continued its industry expansion effort by refining its analysis of new industries under consideration for addition to the reporting requirements. EPA also continued to conduct a dialogue with interested parties, including a public meeting in May, and numerous meetings with industry representatives and environmental, community, and labor organizations. EPA is focused on operations within mining, oil and gas exploration and production, electric utilities, waste management, bulk terminals, solvent recovery, and other industries which manufacture, process, or otherwise use TRI chemicals. EPA remains committed to this dialogue, and is moving forward with a proposed rulemaking in 1996.

Phase III Expansion, the effort where EPA is considering adding chemical use information to TRI, does not yet have a schedule for developing a proposed rulemaking. A report to the President was submitted in early October laying out issues involved in this effort, and two public meetings have been held (one in 1994) to solicit views from industry and other members of the public. EPA is currently examining the comments received on a second issues paper, and will be looking further at the experience of state programs which collect chemical use information. Continued dialogue with industry and other interested parties is anticipated in 1996, as EPA weighs the value and benefits of this type of data for TRI.

EPA also continued to look for ways to further reduce TRI's burden on industry. An evaluation of each of the original chemicals on the TRI list against the statutory listing criteria will be completed in 1996. This analysis will potentially result in the removal of chemicals from the section 313 list which do not meet the listing criteria. EPA also deleted or modified three chemicals and chemical categories on the section 313 list in 1995, and more petition actions are likely in 1996.

EPA anticipates developing regulatory definitions and guidance to implement the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990. The regulated community has reported on waste quantities managed since 1991. EPA will now provide definitions and a standard method for performing the waste calculations necessary for completing the Form R. This effort will greatly improve the utility of the currently collected data.

How Can I Obtain Additional TRI Information?

This report contains 1994 TRI data and limited comparison data for 1988, 1992 and 1993. The TRI data are available in an on-line computer database and in a variety of common computer and hard copy formats, to ensure that everyone can easily use the information. Information about accessing the TRI database is provided on the inside front cover of this book, as well as in Appendix B. The TRI User Support Service (202-260-1531) can provide assistance in accessing and using the TRI data.

To request copies of TRI and EPCRA documents or to obtain further information about the program, contact the toll-free Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Information Hotline at 1-800-535-0202.

Other potential sources of TRI information include the state EPCRA section 313 contact, the EPA Regional Office, or the facility itself. Information about EPA Regional and state EPCRA section 313 contacts is found in Appendix G.

Source: USEPA 1994 Toxics Release Inventory Public Data Release (EPA 745-R-96-002, June 1996).

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