Toxic Release Inventory
What is the Toxic Release Inventory?
In 1986, the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) was enacted. Through EPCRA, Congress mandated that a Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) be made public. Section 313 of EPCRA specifically requires manufacturers and other industry groups (see Who Must Report) to report the chemicals manufactured or used in the identified facilities and the annual amount of these chemicals released and otherwise managed in on- and off-site waste management facilities. Facilities are required to submit reports for more than 650 designated toxic chemicals. The reports are submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and state governments.
Facilities are required to report releases of toxic chemicals to air, water, and land. In addition, they need to report off-site transfers for treatment or disposal at a separate facility. Facilities are also required to report on pollution prevention activities and chemical recycling. Reports must be submitted on or before July 1st each year and must cover activities that occurred at the facility during the previous calendar year.
Facilities that are required to report may submit their information online through the USEPA TRI Data Exchange (see "Links Leaving DEC's Website" at right). New York State participates in the data exchange so facilities can fulfill their obligation to submit their information to New York by completing their submission to the USEPA via the TRI Data Exchange. If a facility submits their reports to the USEPA on paper, that will also fulfill the requirement for submittal to New York because New York can access the information through the Data Exchange once USEPA enters the data into the system.
Who Must Report?
Section 313 of EPCRA required that reports be filed by owners and operators of facilities that meet all of the following criteria (see also USEPA's summary of reporting requirements - see "Links Leaving DEC's Website" at right):
- Specific Industry Sector
The first of three criteria to be met to require reporting is being in a specific industry sector (e.g., manufacturing, mining, electric power generation). The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is a framework by which economic units that have similar production processes are classified into the same industry by a numerical designation, the most detailed of which is six-digits.
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act originally required TRI reporting using four-digit Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes. However, the Office of Management and Budget replaced the SIC code system with the NAICS code system developed by the U.S. Census Bureau, and TRI adopted this system in 2006 (71 FR 32464). NAICS codes are updated every five years, and TRI facilities currently use OMB-revised 2007 six-digit NAICS codes on their TRI reporting forms.
- Number of Employees
The number of full time employees must be 10 (or the equivalent of 20,000 hours of work per year) or more.
- Threshold Quantity
The third criterion is any facility that manufactured or processed more than 25,000 pounds or otherwise used more than 10,000 pounds of a listed toxic chemical during the course of the calendar year is required to submit a report. Starting with the reporting year of 1995, the USEPA introduced an "alternate threshold" for facilities with low total annual reportable amounts. Facilities that have total annual reportable amounts of 500 pounds or less of listed chemicals and do not use annually more than one million pounds are eligible for the alternate threshold option. Eligible facilities have the option of reporting on a simplified two-page short form referred to as Form A and not using the longer Form R. This threshold does not apply to the PBT (persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic) chemicals.
When and Where to Report
Toxic Release Inventory reports are filed every year with USEPA. The reports submitted by the facilities are due by July 1 for the preceding calendar year. The data from the reports are entered into the USEPA database. After data quality checks, USEPA makes the information available to the public. TRI data and information are made available in a number of ways to assist the widest range of users. TRI Explorer is a searchable online database which lets users quickly get information about releases and transfers and other waste management activities - no database knowledge is required. The annual Public Data Release (PDR) contains fact sheets, trend information, and the State Data Files. The State Data Files are designed to minimize the amount of coding necessary to get release, transfer, waste management and other information on submissions for a specific reporting year. In addition, raw data is available by request on CD. The TRI Data Quality Program describes the activities undertaken by EPA to insure that the data are of the highest possible quality.
As mentioned above, New York State participates in the USEPA TRI data exchange so facilities can fulfill their obligation to submit their information to New York by completing their submission to the USEPA via the TRI Data Exchange.
Information Collected Under TRI
Facilities report the amounts of toxic chemicals released on-site, the amount of chemicals transferred off-site, production-related waste management information, and facility and chemical identification. The following specific information is required:
- Facility identification information - name, address, TRI facility identification (ID) and location data
- Name and telephone number of contact person
- Environmental permits held
- Amount of each listed chemical (see TRI Chemicals) released to the environment at the facility
- Amount of each chemical sent from the facility to other locations for recycling, energy recovery, treatment, or disposal
- Amount of each chemical recycled, burned for energy or treated at the facility
- Maximum amount of each chemical present on-site at the facility during the year
- Types of activities conducted at the facility involving the toxic chemical
- Source reduction activities
On-site releases are considered to be the amount of TRI chemicals released at the facility (within the facility property limit). Amounts transferred to other sites are not included in this category.
The amount of TRI chemicals released off-site is the amount transferred for disposal off-site. Transfer to Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) of metal and metal compounds are considered off-site releases. The amount transferred to another TRI facility is excluded from the off-site release category if the receiving facility reports this amount as an on-site release under its TRI report.
There are currently over 650 individually listed TRI chemicals and chemical categories. For an alphabetical list of current TRI chemicals and chemical categories please refer to the USEPA TRI Chemicals webpage. Reporting facilities are required to use data from monitoring and emission measurements in calculating releases being reported in their TRI reports. When such data are not available, reasonable estimates may be used from published emission factors, material balance calculations, or engineering judgments
TRI Data Use
TRI information can help to identify the presence of toxic chemicals within communities and can provide ways for the public to work with industries to reduce the hazards associated with these chemicals. TRI data also serve as a tool for measuring toxic chemical uses and releases. TRI data can be used by industry to identify problem areas, establish reduction targets, anticipate costs associated with procurement and disposal of toxic chemicals, and monitor progress of pollution prevention programs. Federal, state, and local governments can use TRI data to evaluate existing environmental programs or to target new environmental initiatives.
For additional information, see USEPA Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program website (see "Links Leaving DEC's Website" at right).