Memeorandom linked to a story on proposed changes to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting program. It's titled EPA Wants to Radically Gut Pollution Rules on the front page of the website, and EPA Quietly Attempts to Radically Change Pollution Rules on the article itself. Hmm, only a wee bit slanted....As is the norm these days in environmental programs, there are LOTS of inaccuracies.
The EPA has been collecting and reporting TRI data since 1996. It's trying to make TRI reporting less burdensome for the 23,000 companies that have to submit annual reports on toxic releases. ("Release" means many things, including emission, disposal, treatment and recycling.) From the article:
"During the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina, local officials and the Environmental Protection Agency depended on one source to find hotspots of toxic chemicals: a database known as the Toxic Release Inventory....Until a few weeks ago, the inventory was to be slashed to comply with the Federal Paperwork Reduction Act. The EPA said they were gutting the 20-year-old database to save paper."
Patently false, the proposed changes are for reporting thresholds and frequency of reporting. The EPA is not going to "slash the inventory" or "gut the database." It's widely recognized as a pretty useful database. EPA is trying to make it less burdensome to comply with.
"Under the plan, companies would report biannually instead of annually and would only have to report toxic releases of more than 5,000 pounds. Currently, the EPA requires reporting of any releases greater than 500 pounds."
Yes, reporting is proposed every two years instead of every year. Probably not a big deal (or a big savings) one way or the other. However, the article is incorrect in stating that the threshold of reporting toxic compounds is going down from 5,000 lbs to 500 lbs. The proposed change is for which form to use in reporting use and releases of chemicals (simple Form A versus complicated Form R), not in whether they are reported at all.
"The EPA...decided to change the database "out of the blue" in 2005."
The EPA held public meetings on these proposed changes between November 2002 and February 2004. The proposed changes were published in the Federal Register and there were public comment periods. There's nothing secretive or "out of the blue" about it.
"The cut would also change, for the first time ever, the way the most toxic chemicals, known as Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxins, are reported. These toxins -- including lead, mercury and dioxin -- can't naturally be disposed of by the body."
Again, an incorrect statement. According to EPA, dioxin and dioxin compounds are specifically excluded from this proposal. The reporting of dioxins as PBTs is not going to change. And under the proposal, facilities may use the simpler Form A for PBTs providing there is no release to the environment (zero release) and they don't manage more than 500 lbs. of the chemical. These people fear change, don't they?
The article manages to get a lot of things wrong. Maybe there are reasons to be concerned with these proposed changes, but I can't trust anything this article says. One wonders why Memeorandom linked to something so inaccurate and slanted.