January 15, 2024
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the automatic addition of seven per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the list of chemicals covered by the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).
TRI data is reported to EPA annually by facilities in designated industry sectors and federal facilities that manufacture, process, or otherwise use TRI-listed chemicals above set quantities. The data include quantities of such chemicals that were released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste. Information collected through TRI allows communities to learn how facilities in their area are managing listed chemicals. The data collected is available online and helps to support informed decision-making by companies, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the public, and advances the Biden-Harris commitments to ensuring environmental justice through improved accountability and transparency for families, workers, and communities across the country.
The addition of these seven PFAS helps to further the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to address the impacts of these forever chemicals, and advances EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap to confront the human health and environmental risks of PFAS.
“With these additions to the Toxics Release Inventory, we’ll be collecting data on the release and management of almost 200 PFAS in communities across the country, furthering our efforts to better understand and protect people from these chemicals,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “We’ll also share this information with the public, empowering communities to engage with the facilities using these chemicals to prevent or reduce pollution.”
These seven PFAS were added to the TRI list pursuant to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which provides the framework for the automatic addition of PFAS to TRI each year in response to specified EPA activities involving such PFAS. For TRI Reporting Year 2024 (reporting forms due by July 1, 2025), reporting is required for these seven additional PFAS, bringing the total PFAS subject to TRI reporting to 196.
Addition of PFAS with final toxicity values
The 2020 NDAA includes a provision that automatically adds PFAS to the TRI list upon the Agency’s finalization of a toxicity value. Six PFAS were automatically added for Reporting Year 2024 due to EPA having finalized a toxicity value during 2023. Only these particular salt forms of the acids are added to the list.
- Ammonium perfluorohexanoate; Chemical Abstract Service Registration Number (CASRN) 21615-47-4
- Lithium bis[(trifluoromethyl)sulfonyl] azanide; CASRN 90076-65-6
- Perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA); CASRN 307-24-4
- Perfluoropropanoic acid (PFPrA); CASRN 422-64-0
- Sodium perfluorohexanoate; CASRN 2923-26-4
- 1,1,1-Trifluoro-N-[(trifluoromethyl)sulfonyl] methanesulfonamide; CASRN 82113-65-3
Addition of PFAS no longer claimed as confidential business information
Under NDAA section 7321(e), EPA must review confidential business information (CBI) claims before adding a PFAS to the TRI list if the chemical identity is subject to a claim of protection from disclosure under 5 U.S.C. 552(a). EPA previously identified one PFAS for addition to the TRI list based on the NDAA’s provision to include specific PFAS upon the NDAA’s enactment. However, due to CBI claims related to its identity, this PFAS was not added to the TRI list at that time. The identity of this chemical was subsequently declassified in an update to the Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory in February 2023. Because its identity is no longer confidential, the following chemical was added to the TRI list:
Betaines, dimethyl(.gamma.-.omega.-perfluoro-.gamma.-hydro-C8-18-alkyl); CASRN 2816091-53-7
As of January 1, 2024, facilities that are subject to reporting requirements for these chemicals should begin tracking their activities involving these PFAS as required by Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Reporting forms will be due by July 1, 2025.
These seven newly added PFAS, along with the previous 189 TRI-listed PFAS, are also subject to EPA’s action in October 2023 to classify all PFAS subject to TRI reporting as chemicals of special concern. Among other impacts, this removes the use of a reporting exemption that allowed facilities to avoid reporting information on PFAS when those chemicals were used in small concentrations.
EPA Fines COIM USA for Inaccurate TRI Reporting
The EPA has reached a settlement with COIM USA, Inc. (COIM) for allegedly violating the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) at their chemical manufacturing facility in West Deptford, New Jersey. Failure of facilities to accurately disclose chemical information deprives local community members and officials of their right to know about releases and the presence of chemicals in their neighborhoods. Under the settlement, COIM will pay a $101,400 penalty. Additionally, the company will undertake a supplemental environmental project (SEP) estimated to cost approximately $25,000 to purchase emergency planning and preparedness equipment for the West Deptford Fire Department.
"COIM failed to meet their obligation to public safety by inaccurately reporting their activities involving 1,4-Dioxane, a hazardous chemical,” said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. "This settlement not only holds the company accountable for their violations, but also supports the local fire department in enhancing their emergency preparedness and response capabilities.”
The settlement resolves EPA’s allegations that COIM failed to accurately report the off-site transfers and disposal methods of 1,4-Dioxane, in their Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reports for the years 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. The TRI program requires facilities that manufacture, process, or otherwise use certain toxic chemicals above threshold levels to report annually on their releases and other waste management activities. In response to EPA’s request for the raw data and information that supported their 1,4-Dioxane TRI reports, COIM identified chemical records they had previously not considered and reevaluated their calculations and waste transfer descriptions. Accordingly, COIM updated its calculations and waste transfer descriptions, fixed its TRI reports, and set up internal controls to prevent future violations.
In addition to the penalty, COIM agreed to perform a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP), which involves purchasing and providing fire turnout gear (safety clothing) for the West Deptford Fire Department. The SEP will help the fire department improve their ability to respond to emergencies involving hazardous chemicals such as 1,4-Dioxane in West Deptford and the surrounding communities.
Visit EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory Program webpage for additional information about the program.
Biden-Harris Administration Finalizes Rule to Prevent Inactive PFAS from Reentering Commerce
The EPA finalized a rule that prevents companies from starting or resuming the manufacture or processing of 329 per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that have not been made or used for many years without a complete EPA review and risk determination. In the past, these chemicals, known as “inactive PFAS,” may have been used without review in many industries, including as binding agents, surfactants, in the production of sealants and gaskets, and may also have been released into the environment.
Without this rule, companies could have resumed uses of these PFAS absent notification to and review by EPA. The rule builds on three years of progress on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advancing environmental justice, protecting public health, and addressing the impacts of these “forever chemicals,” and is a key action under EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap.
“Under President Biden’s leadership, EPA has shut the door on the possibility of anyone restarting use of over 300 PFAS without first ensuring a robust safety review to stop uses that could be harmful to our communities and our planet,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “For far too long, communities – particularly those with environmental justice concerns – have suffered the impacts of exposure to ‘forever chemicals.’ We’re continuing to use every tool at our disposal to better protect communities across the nation from these persistent and dangerous chemicals.”
When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was first enacted in 1976, thousands of chemicals were grandfathered in under the statute and allowed to remain in commerce without additional EPA review. During the first 40 years of the law’s existence, EPA completed formal reviews on only about 20% of new chemicals and had no authority to address new chemicals about which the Agency lacked sufficient information, which is part of the reason why many chemicals, including PFAS, were allowed into commerce without a complete review.
Under the 2016 TSCA amendments through the bipartisan Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the Agency must formally review the safety of all new chemicals before they are allowed into commerce. Under this new significant new use rule (SNUR), EPA must now conduct modern, robust reviews before any of these inactive PFAS could be used again.
TSCA requires EPA to compile, keep current, and publish a list of each chemical that is manufactured (including imported) or processed in the United States for uses under TSCA, known as the TSCA Inventory. TSCA also requires EPA to designate each chemical on the TSCA Inventory as either “active” or “inactive” in commerce. An “inactive” designation means that a chemical substance has not been manufactured (including imported) or processed in the United States since June 21, 2006.
The final rule applies to all PFAS that are designated as “inactive” on the TSCA Inventory and which are not already subject to a SNUR. EPA has aligned the rule with reporting requirements for the Active-Inactive rule, which designated these “inactive” chemicals.
If a company wants to use any of these 329 chemicals, they are required to notify EPA first. The Agency would then be required to conduct a robust review of health and safety information under the modernized 2016 law to determine if the new use may present unreasonable risk to human health or the environment and put any necessary restrictions in place before the use could restart. Any new uses of PFAS would be considered under EPA’s framework for evaluating new PFAS and new uses of PFAS, announced in June 2023.
Since EPA proposed this rule in January 2023, one company that held Confidential Business Information claims relating to some of these inactive PFAS relinquished its claims on the chemical identities of twelve of these substances, which were previously listed in the confidential portion of the TSCA Inventory. EPA will be moving them to the public portion of the TSCA Inventory.
Construction Company’s License Revoked for Repeated Defiance of Safety Regulations
The Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards has revoked William Trahant's construction supervisor's license for at least two years as the result of a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Labor citing seven separate citations issued to his company since 2014 for violating federal fall safety regulations, as well as his continued failure to pay more than $300,000 in related penalties.
The department’s Regional Solicitor’s Office and Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Boston presented evidence against Trahant — owner of William Trahant Jr. Construction Inc. — before the board's hearing officer and obtained a favorable decision on Nov. 17, 2023, which revoked his license. In the decision, the hearing officer ordered Trahant to return his license and cease any work on active building permits he holds until a successor license holder is substituted or Trahant regains his license.
OSHA estimates that Trahant currently holds a number of active building permits in Massachusetts. For example, looking at just five communities, it appears that he held hundreds of such permits between 2020 and 2022. Trahant Jr. Construction Inc. is based in Lynn, Massachusetts.
"Employers must never overlook the importance of worker safety, especially when it comes to protecting construction industry workers from falls from elevation," said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston. "William Trahant's continued failure to protect his employees from the industry's leading cause of death led the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards to take decisive action."
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires construction supervisor's licenses for projects that meet certain thresholds and can revoke them when holders fail to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
"This decision reinforces that construction industry employers must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act and make worker safety a priority," explained Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston. "Employers who fail to comply with the federal workplace safety standards risk serious consequences, both federal and state."
OSHA's Andover area office conducted the inspections. The department's Office of the Solicitor in Boston litigated the case.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 1,056 construction workers died on the job in 2022, with 423 of those fatalities related to falls from elevation, making it the leading cause of industry deaths.
Best Petroleum Corp. Will Resolve Violations of the Clean Air Act at Facility in Puerto Rico
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement between the agency and Best Petroleum Corp. to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at its gasoline storage and loading facility in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Best Petroleum agreed to pay a $316,721 civil penalty to resolve its past violations.
"This settlement exemplifies EPA’s commitment to hold companies accountable when they violate the Clean Air Act, and potentially put a community’s health at risk," said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia “EPA’s enforcement led to the company installing and upgrading equipment and proper emission controls to lower exposure to hazardous air pollutants which protects the public’s health, workers, and the environment.”
The facility, equipped with several above-ground gasoline storage tanks and a gasoline truck loading rack, is classified as a smaller “area source” under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), with respect to its potential to emit hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).
Best Petroleum Corp. was found to have multiple violations at its bulk petroleum storage and distribution terminal. EPA Region 2’s investigation revealed that pollution control equipment at the facility was not operated and maintained in accordance with CAA requirements, leading to excess emissions of HAPs and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These emissions may contribute to public health and environmental problems, including cancer and ground-level ozone formation.
In response to the EPA’s findings, Best Petroleum undertook extensive upgrades to its gasoline vapor recovery unit (VRU), installed new emission monitoring equipment for the VRU, repaired damaged pollution control equipment at its internal floating roof (IFR) and external floating roof (EFR) gasoline storage tanks. These upgrades will reduce air pollution through better controls and increased monitoring methods.
In addition, to settle the CAA violations, the Consent Agreement/Final Order requires Best Petroleum to complete a Storage Tank Inspection and Maintenance Plan for its gasoline tanks. This will ensure compliance with CAA requirements and the effectiveness of the recent repair work. The company is required to complete two additional monitoring events at each gasoline storage tank and take necessary corrective action if leaks or damaged equipment are observed.
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