Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) is a resource for understanding industrial and federal facilities’ chemical releases and pollution prevention activities. TRI data is important for several reasons, as it supports informed decision-making by communities, government agencies, and planning authorities to promote public safety. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) governs mandated TRI reporting for all applicable industries. We’ve summarized the basics of TRI reporting below.
The Basics of TRI Reporting
What Is the TRI Program?
First, what exactly is the purpose of the TRI program? According to the EPA, the Toxics Release Inventory, or TRI, “tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment.” The release of these chemicals are capable of compromising land, air, or water. TRI requires covered industry sectors to report the quantity of each TRI-covered chemical that is released into the environment, as well as how much is managed through means including recycling, energy recovery, and treatment or remediation. This information is then compiled in the EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory.
When Did the TRI Program Originate?
TRI was created as part of a response to several events involving hazardous substances. According to the EPA, the first incident took place on December 4, 1984, in Bhopal, India. At that time, a cloud of extremely toxic methyl isocyanate gas escaped from a Union Carbide Chemical plant, killing and disabling thousands in an unprecedented industrial disaster. Shortly after, in 1985, a harmful chemical release occurred at a similar plant in West Virginia. In response to both disasters, Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). This initiative now supports and promotes emergency planning while creating an index of public information regarding toxic releases. TRI is a major component of this index.
Does My Industry Report to TRI?
Now that we’ve explored the origins of TRI, let’s review the basics of TRI reporting. First, facilities that report to TRI can be large or small; some chemicals have very small reporting thresholds, which means that even small facilities can meet TRI reporting criteria relatively quickly. While not all industry sectors are covered by TRI, affected facilities often fall under the manufacturing, metal mining, electric power generation, chemical manufacturing, and hazardous waste treatment industries. However, TRI does not affect all facilities in those industries. To fall under TRI, facilities must utilize must utilize one or more EPCRA Section 313 chemicals. If a facility manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses these chemicals in amounts above established thresholds, they must submit TRI reporting forms on an annual basis. Affected chemicals typically cause the following criteria:
- Cancer or other chronic illness
- Significant adverse acute human health effects, as defined by the EPA
- Significant adverse environmental effects, as defined by the EPA
If your facility is a covered industry sector, meets TRI chemical usage thresholds, and employs greater than 10 employees, annual TRI mandatory reporting is due July 1. Reporting practices are outlined in the EPA’s TRI Reporting Forms and Instructions. Industrial facilities must report data about chemical waste management through a number of means. Those means include recycling, energy recovery, treatment, disposal, and concentrated environmental releases. Additionally, facilities are encouraged to report their individual efforts to reduce chemical waste in the environment, as well as chemical release prevention tactics.
While the EPA’s guidelines for TRI reporting are listed clearly on the agency’s website, reporting can be a bit complicated. Given the gravity of TRI reporting, your organization can’t afford to misreport even the smallest detail. When in doubt, reach out to an environmental compliance expert like Environmental Works.
Do you need assistance with TRI reporting? Give Environmental Works a call. We have in-house experts ready to help. We will walk you through the specifics of your organization’s planning and compliance needs; additionally, we can explore the ways you can be prepared as you advance through the stages of TRI reporting. When you’re ready, you can contact EWI online or call 877-827-9500 for more information.