EPA Announces Plan to Update Toxics Release Inventory to Advance Environmental Justice
Plan includes expanding reporting requirements for certain chemicals and facilities, including ethylene oxide and PFAS, and providing new tools for communities
Today, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pursues its mission to protect human health and the environment, the agency announced that it will be taking important steps under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to advance Environmental Justice, improve transparency, and increase access to environmental information. The comprehensive plan includes expanding the scope of TRI reporting requirements to include additional chemicals and facilities, including facilities that are not currently reporting on ethylene oxide (EtO) releases, and providing new tools to make TRI data more accessible to the public. TRI is a resource for learning about annual chemical releases, waste management, and pollution prevention activities reported by nearly 22,000 industrial and federal facilities.
“Every person in the United States has a right to know about what chemicals are released into their communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “By requiring new and more data on chemical releases from facilities, EPA and its partners will be better equipped to protect the health of every individual, including people of color and low-income communities that are often located near these facilities but have been left out of the conversation for too long.”
Today’s announcement includes several components:
TRI Facility Expansion to Include Certain Contract Sterilizers using EtO
EPA recognizes and shares the public’s concerns about the harmful effects of EtO on human health, including cancer and the environment. The agency is committing to broadening TRI reporting on this chemical to include certain contract sterilization facilities that use EtO that are not currently required to report this information. EtO is used to make other industrial chemicals and is also used to sterilize medical devices.
Many of these contract sterilization facilities are located near areas with Environmental Justice concerns. Workers in facilities that use EtO and communities – including historically underserved communities – living adjacent to these facilities are at the highest risks from exposure to EtO. Making more information available about releases of EtO will assist the agency in identifying and responding to any human health and environmental threats they cause. The agency will provide more details in upcoming months on its effort to require these contract sterilization facilities to report to TRI and will keep the public informed as next steps are determined.
Additional TRI Reporting Requirements for Other Chemicals and Sectors
The agency will continue to expand the TRI program to protect the health and safety of underserved communities, including:
- TRI Reporting for Natural Gas Processing Facilities: EPA plans to finalize a rule to add natural gas processing facilities to the list of industry sectors covered under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) section 313. This rule was proposed by EPA on January 6, 2017, following a petition submitted to EPA by the Environmental Integrity Project and other organizations. Adding natural gas processing facilities to TRI would increase the publicly available information on chemical releases and other waste management activities of TRI-listed chemicals from this sector. Millions of people live within 30 miles of at least one natural gas processing facility.
- TRI Reporting for Additional Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): EPA will continue to add new PFAS to TRI, in addition to the three PFAS added in Reporting Year 2021. The provisions included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) automatically add certain PFAS to the TRI chemical list when certain conditions are met (see NDAA Section 7321(c)). EPA also anticipates the automatic addition of more PFAS, including perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), following EPA’s recent publication of a toxicity assessment on the chemical.
- TRI Reporting for TSCA Workplan and High-Priority Chemicals: EPA plans to propose adding to TRI the chemicals included in the TSCA workplan and other substances designated as high-priority substances under TSCA. In addition, EPA plans to propose to list chemicals included in a 2014 petition received from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute. Many of these substances could be present in fence line communities, those communities within close proximity to industrial uses of these chemicals where releases to water, air, or land could be of a greater impact.
Additional TRI Tools for Communities
The ability to access and use TRI data empowers communities to make informed health and safety decisions. EPA has taken several steps to make TRI data more useful and accessible to communities with Environmental Justice concerns by:
- Enhancing TRI search tools to include a “Demographic Profile” section which displays a map showing information like the income profile and the racial makeup surrounding TRI facilities derived from EJSCREEN. Users can also access demographic data for individual TRI facilities, as well as view a “Community Report” by selecting a facility from the “Facility Comparison Table” in the “Facility Summary” section.
- Launching a Spanish version of the TRI website, making the most popular resources from the English version of the website available in Spanish for the first time and continuing to provide the annual TRI National Analysis in Spanish.
- Promoting the use of Pollution Prevention (P2) information as a tool for communities to engage with reporting facilities on workable solutions for building community health by encouraging facilities to reduce their use and releases of toxic chemicals, thereby helping to prevent possible exposure to such chemicals. Reporting on P2 activities is required by TRI and reveals how facilities can – and have – adopted source reduction practices that can lead to meaningful reductions in releases, across a range of industrial sectors.
To learn more about TRI, generally, visit https://www.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program. For TRI information specifically focused for communities, visit TRI for Communities | Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program | US EPA