Best Practices for RY2020 TRI Reporting + A Lookahead at RY2021 and Beyond
Posted: May 26th, 2021Authors: Kyle W.
The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting deadline on July 1st is approaching for facilities that meet the reporting criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). Here are some best practices to follow to make this reporting season most efficient.
- Use the best readily available information for your calculations and pollutant identification. This information can come in the form of site-specific testing, monitoring data, safety data sheets (SDSs), or published emissions factors from sources such as U.S. EPA AP-42 and from trade groups. Note that “best readily available information” means that if you are not currently required to test or monitor for a pollutant, you do not have to start testing for TRI purposes.
- Carefully document your assumptions and reasoning. Cite your sources for the emissions factors you use in your calculations, as well as assumptions or other important information you may have. When completing your facility’s TRI Form R reports, make use of the comment boxes to document pertinent information about your calculations in case U.S. EPA has questions concerning your submission. Thorough documentation allows U.S. EPA to better understand your conclusions and may prevent further correspondence or a resubmission. Be sure to also document your sources and assumptions in your calculations used as the basis for preparing your TRI Form R reports. It is equally important and a requirement to document reportable substances manufactured, processed, or otherwise used at your facility were evaluated, even if the substance does not exceed the reportable threshold [40 CFR 372.10(a)].
- Double-check your reporting thresholds and range codes. Confirm that you are using the correct reporting thresholds for each chemical to prevent over-reporting and under-reporting. This check is especially important for compounds such as persistent bioaccumulative toxics (PBTs) that have significantly lower thresholds than most compounds. Most compounds have reporting thresholds of 25,000 lbs/yr for manufactured and processed and 10,000 lbs/yr for otherwise used, whereas some chemical categories can have thresholds as low as 0.1 grams per year.
- Double-check the list order of your dioxin and dioxin-like compounds. Each of the dioxin and dioxin-like compounds subject to TRI reporting are labeled with a number from 1-17, which is used to assign the percentage distribution of each member of the category. Be sure to check your sequencing against the U.S. EPA guidance to make sure you’re assigning your distribution of emissions to the correct compounds.
- Refine any conservative estimates. If your facility exceeds the reporting threshold for a compound, but the release quantity is close to the threshold, reconsider any conservative estimates and assumptions you may have made. See if you can refine estimates and assumptions to lower the release quantity below the reporting threshold. An example would be replacing a permit limit used in your calculations with a published emissions factor from a database such as U.S. EPA AP-42.
- Compare your release quantities to historical reports and investigate significant differences. As a rule of thumb, review each reported quantity that is ± 10% different than the previous year to check and correct errors. For documentation purposes, use the comment box on the Form R report to explain the difference.
- Make sure your TRI calculations are consistent with your other reporting obligations. Your facility’s emissions calculations should be consistent with what your facility has reported in other annual reporting obligations, such as Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) Tier II reporting. If your facility’s TRI release quantities aren’t consistent with your other reports, it is important to use the comment boxes on your Form R reports to provide U.S. EPA with an explanation of any differences. Where possible, import validated information from other reporting. If your facility uses the Combined Air Emissions Reporting System (CAERS) and you would like more information about importing Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) emissions from CAERS to TRI-MEweb, check out our article about the new features in CAERS.
New to TRI for the report covering calendar year 2020 is the inclusion of 172 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the list of chemicals subject to TRI, as announced in section 7321 of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). PFAS are commonly found in food packaging materials, commercial household products, industries such as chrome plating and electronic manufacturing, and cookware, among others. U.S. EPA is concerned about PFAS because exposures have potential to lead to adverse health effects in humans, and the reporting threshold for each of these PFAS compounds is 100 pounds. If your facility is not currently conducting analytical testing for PFAS, you do not need to start for TRI purposes. However, your facility should check the SDSs and supplier notifications for chemicals purchased that may contain PFAS. Note that if your supplier notifies you that a chemical you purchase contains PFAS, that notification becomes the best readily available information. Use the SDS for threshold and release calculations associated with that PFAS.
U.S. EPA has also announced the following TRI updates for 2022 and beyond:
- Ethylene oxide (EtO) reporting requirements will be expanded to cover contract sterilization facilities.
- Natural gas processing facilities will be added to the list of industry sectors subject to TRI.
- At least three additional PFAS compounds will be added to the TRI chemical list.
- The chemicals included in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) workplan, as well as other high-priority TSCA substances, will be proposed as additions to the TRI chemical list.
ALL4 will continue monitoring the changes to TRI reporting requirements and provide updates as proposed changes become final. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (678) 599-9011.