U.S. EPA Requires Electronic Non-Trade-Secret Toxic Release Inventory Reporting
Posted: September 5th, 2013Author: All4 Staff
On August 27, 2013, U.S. EPA finalized a rule requiring affected facilities to report non-trade-secret Toxic Release Inventories (TRIs) using its electronic “TRI-MEweb” software. The electronic submittals will be used by U.S. EPA and will also be distributed to appropriate states, territories, and tribes. Use of the TRI-MEweb software has historically been highly encouraged to facilities but voluntary. The new electronic reporting requirement will enable facilities to validate and report information more accurately and decrease the amount of time it takes to complete the TRI forms thanks to the pre-population of certain information. Mandatory electronic reporting will cut costs for U.S. EPA by reducing the time it takes to process forms and will allow for faster dissemination of TRI information to the public.
The final rule, which was codified at 40 CFR §372.85(c), is effective January 14, 2014 and will affect all non-trade-secret TRI reports. Facilities that submit trade secret TRI information will continue to submit their trade secret reporting forms and substantiation forms in hard copy. U.S. EPA strongly suggests that facilities submitting TRIs containing trade secret information use a computer or typewriter to prepare their hard-copy submissions of TRI information.
The TRI-MEweb software pre-populates forms based on the prior year’s reporting data and performs data validation on the information that has been submitted for the current reporting year, allowing for facilities to better identify potential errors in the data. In order to prepare, transmit, certify and submit a TRI using TRI-MEweb, one or more representatives from each facility must establish an account with U.S. EPA’s Central Data Exchange (CDX). Representatives must identify themselves as either a form Preparer or Certifying Official, both of which can enter and validate information on the TRI-MEweb software. Only a Certifying Official may approve, certify, and submit the final TRI forms to U.S. EPA, which must be accompanied with an Electronic Signature Agreement (ESA). As established with RY 2012, Certifying Officials may use a third-party identity verification vendor to establish an ESA by providing personal identifying information to authenticate his/her identity. An ESA can also be established through the submittal of a paper ESA form two (2) weeks prior to the submittal of the TRI.
An updated version of the TRI-MEweb software will be released in January 2014, and will allow for a facility to electronically revise or withdraw TRI reports for prior reporting years, back to RY 1991. Previous TRI reports did not have to be submitted using TRI-MEweb in order to be revised or withdrawn via TRI-MEweb. The TRI-MEweb software will be populated with historically reported TRI data for RY 2005 through the current reporting year. The TRI-MEweb software will display blank forms for any revisions that need to be made for RYs 1991 through 2004. Any revisions and withdrawals made to previous TRI reporting forms will need to be submitted to the state, tribe, or territory that received the initial TRI report.
Instructions, tutorials, and additional information on how to use the TRI-MEweb software is located on U.S. EPA’s TRI website.