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Legislative Issues: EPA Lead Reporting

June 1, 2001
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Many businesses in the ceramic industry are now subject to a new and extensive government reporting requirement if they use lead, or products containing lead, in their operations. The new requirement is contained in recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and is being challenged in court with a lawsuit filed on behalf of a number of impacted industries (see Executive Overview: Regulatory Review - “EPA Allows TRI Pb Rule to Take Effect,” CI June 2001). It could be a considerable time, however, before the suit is concluded. In the meantime, all affected entities must now comply.

Review of the Regulations

Basically, the new regulations pertain to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) lead reporting requirements. The TRI is an extensive collection of information maintained by the EPA. It maintains information concerning the release of toxic chemicals by facility description if a toxic chemical is manufactured, processed or otherwise used at a facility.

Lead is one of the toxic chemicals subject to TRI reporting. Until the recent change, the reporting threshold was 25,000 pounds of lead per calendar year for manufacturing and processing entities and 10,000 pounds for all others with lead and lead compounds. The new regulation lowers the reporting requirement to 100 pounds. So, if a facility uses materials containing lead and, over the course of a year, will use more than 100 pounds of lead, then TRI reports to the EPA are required.

There is an exemption if there are 10 or fewer employees at a facility; in that case, no reporting is required. This 10-employee standard is based on full-time-equivalent hours and includes all workers—even those who do not work with lead materials at the facility.

Reporting Requirements

The first reports to the EPA are due by July 1, 2002, and then by July 1 for each subsequent year after that. However, the first report must cover all of 2001, so reporting entities must backtrack to January1, 2001, to determine what lead was received, used and shipped.

The information must be reported on the EPA’s Form R, “Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Reporting Form.” The form requires a great deal of information in various formats. The EPA has issued regulations regarding Form R compliance in the Code of Federal Regulations describing how Form R should be completed. Anyone subject to the TRI reporting requirements should carefully review Form R and the applicable regulations.

Some confusion may exist regarding the reporting form, because the EPA also has a Form A, which is much easier to complete. However, lead has now been classified by the EPA as a persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemical. Form R must be used for PBT-listed chemicals rather than Form A.

To give an understanding as to how detailed the information mandated by Form R is, Section 4 of Form R requires not only the name and address of the facility, but also the latitude and longitude of the facility by degrees, minutes and seconds. For those who think I must be joking, I invite you to look at subsection 4.6 of the form.

Form R reporting requires the identified facility to report the total of on-site release of any lead or other covered chemical. This would include any release into the air, ground, surface, water, etc. Such a release must be reported in pounds. Any release greater than 0.1 pounds is reportable.

Transfer and shipments to off-site locations must also be reported. The transfer of finished products upon which a covered chemical, such as a lead compound, has been applied does not have to be reported. This is the “sale or distribution in commerce” exemption from transfer reporting. Off-site shipments for purposes of disposal, treatment, energy recovery or recycling are to be reported.

Enforcement actions for noncompliance can be harsh. If a facility has not complied, the EPA can institute proceedings that may result in penalties of up to $25,000 a day. A second violation can result in a civil penalty of up to $75,000 per day. Criminal action can result from persistent noncompliance.

To Learn More

It is difficult to summarize all of the aspects of TRI reporting. The Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorators is hosting an EPA Lead Reporting Compliance Seminar on June 22 to explain the details of the new regulations and how to make reports. (For more information, see http://www.sgcd.org.

In addition to the pending litigation, certain members of Congress have begun to examine this new reporting requirement. In the meantime, the regulations are now in place and compliance is expected. For more information on the new regulations and reporting requirements, visit http://www.epa.gov.

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