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Environmental Reporting – Preparing for Tier II, TRI, and Hazardous Waste

In our previous blog in this series, we discussed how to leverage the requirements of environmental reporting into better outcomes for your business. In this post, we will discuss in three sections how to prepare for environmental reporting for Tier II (SARA Section 311/312), TRI (SARA Section 313), and hazardous waste. We will be talking in general terms – as each state or local government may have specific reporting requirements – and will briefly cover the regulatory background, reporting applicability, steps for determining what to report, reporting tips, and content of these three reports.

Tier II Reporting (SARA Section 311/312)
Regulatory Background

Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), also known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), is intended to provide emergency planning agencies and local governments information about chemical hazards present in their communities. Under EPCRA, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a list of extremely hazardous substances (EHS). In addition, EPCRA provides authority for state and local governments, and even citizens, to bring civil actions against companies that violate the requirements of EPCRA.

Who Needs to Report?

Tier II Reporting is discussed in sections 311 and 312 of SARA. Under these sections, if a facility has EHS or hazardous or toxic chemicals present at their facility above the threshold reporting quantities, then they must submit a report providing a list of those chemicals as well as copies of the Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). Reports are due annually to the State by March 1.

Under EPCRA, hazardous or toxic chemicals are those which have a SDSs and pose a physical or chemical hazard. The threshold reporting quantities for EHS varies by chemical and can be as low as one pound. The threshold reporting quantities for all other hazardous or toxic chemicals is 10,000 pounds.

Steps for Determining What to Report

Step 1: Compile a list of materials/chemicals you have at your facility to determine which of these materials/chemicals are considered hazardous or toxic and are EHS. The SDSs and EPA’s list of EHS can help you determine this.

Step 2: Determine the maximum amount of each material/chemical that you would have on site at one time. Compare this amount to the threshold reporting quantities to determine if you need to do the Tier II report. Purchasing and use records are very helpful for this step.

Reporting Tips

Determining what you need to report may sound straight forward, but there are a few things to consider as you compile your list of reportable materials/chemicals.  For example, when you order additional materials, you may have more than 10,000 pounds for a short period of time or if your facility orders a material for several locations or satellite offices, you might have more than 10,000 pounds of that material until it is shipped off to those other locations. If you have more than 10,000 pounds for a single day, you meet the reporting requirements.

Another thing to consider as you compare your list of materials is the portion of the material that is hazardous, toxic, or an EHS. For example, if the material contains chemical A and other non-toxic materials, but the concentration of chemical A is 50%, then if you have 10,000 pounds of the material, you only have 5,000 pounds of chemical A. A close look at the SDSs is important to determine the ingredients of each material/chemical and the percent concentration of each ingredient.

Report Content

At the end of this exercise, you should end up with a list of materials/chemicals that have been present at your facility for at least one day and exceed the threshold reporting quantities. This is the information that needs to be reported to your state agency. For many states, in addition to the general Tier II reporting, you need to provide a list of all your SDSs to the local emergency response committee (LERC), usually your local fire department.  For some states, when you file your Tier II report, the State provides the information to the LERC.

In addition to the list of materials/chemicals, you will need information on how and where these materials are stored. For example, are the materials in tanks, drums, or boxes? Are the materials stored inside or outside the building? In a special area? All this information will need to be reported.

To help you understand the specifics of what your state requires, the EPA website has links to each state’s Tier II reporting procedures and requirements.

TRI Reporting (SARA Section 313)

Toxic Release Inventory, or TRI, is section 313 of SARA. TRI reporting is required each year by July 1, and tracks the management and use of certain toxic chemicals. TRI is a public tool, meaning that individuals can look to see what TRI reports have been filed in their area. The data is usually available to the public around October of each year.

Who needs to Report?

Unlike Tier II reporting, where anything that poses any type of hazard is covered, TRI only covers a specific list of chemicals, but that list includes over 750 individually listed chemicals and 33 chemical categories. Another difference between Tier II and TRI is that TRI only applies to facilities involved in manufacturing, metal mining, electric power generation, chemical manufacturing, and hazardous waste treatment. In addition, to meet the criteria of TRI, the facility must employ 10 or more full-time equivalent employees.

Steps for Determining What to Report

Step 1: Compile a list of materials/chemicals you have at your facility like what you need for Tier II reporting.

Step 2: Determine the amount of each material/chemical that you manufacture (either as a primary product or byproduct), process, or otherwise use at your facility. Compare this amount to the threshold reporting quantities to determine if you need to do the TRI report. Purchasing, use, production, and disposal records are very helpful for this step.

Reporting Tips

TRI might seem a bit simpler than Tier II in that the list of chemicals is more specific.  However, TRI reporting thresholds are not based on the quantity of a chemical that is present at any one time, but rather on the total amount of the chemical that is manufactured, processed, or otherwise used. So in addition to the purchase and use records that you may have collected for Tier II, you also need to collect production and disposal records.

Keep in mind that threshold reporting quantities for chemicals in TRI may vary based on how the chemical is used. For example, the threshold for chemicals that are manufactured may be different than if that same chemical is processed or otherwise used. So, in addition to knowing what chemicals you have at your facility, you also need to note how you use or produce those materials.  Meaning, do you manufacture it, is it part of your processing, or is it used in other ways?

For example, we assisted a facility that was evaluating whether they needed to report under TRI. They met the type of facility and number of employees threshold, so the last step was to identify all the materials at their facility. We determined that one of the two chemicals they used in a two-part foam packaging process was on the TRI list. They didn’t manufacture the material and it wasn’t used as part of their manufacturing process, it was only used for shipping their final product. Based on their usage, they needed to report because they met the “otherwise used” threshold for that chemical.

Report Content

Remember that for TRI you will also need to report how much of the materials was released (whether through the sanitary sewer or air emissions, recycled, or otherwise disposed). You can use records you keep for other regulatory programs to fulfill this requirement.  For example, you can use the records and calculations used in your air emission inventory report to determine your air emissions for your TRI report.  We will talk more about air emissions inventory reporting in our next blog.

Hazardous Waste (RCRA)
Regulatory Background

Hazardous waste is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the regulations govern hazardous waste identification, classification, generation, management, and disposal.

Who Needs to Report?

You typically need to obtain a Hazardous Waste Identification Number and report your activities if you generate hazardous waste. However, the specific hazardous waste reporting requirements vary by state.  Some states require annual reporting for every waste generating entity, while others only require large quantity generators to report every other year (biennial reporting). Hazardous wastes, regardless of state, have specific requirements for handling and disposal that we are not going to discuss here.

Steps for Determining What to Report
Step 1: Identify your wastes

For hazardous waste reporting, you need to know all the wastes that your facility generates.  This includes not only solid waste but also liquid or gaseous wastes. To evaluate whether your facility generates hazardous waste, you need to understand all wastes produced by all areas and processes, and how much of these wastes are generated monthly and annually. Records that would be useful for this step would be waste disposal records or manifests.

Step 2: Determine if your waste is hazardous.

Once you have your list of wastes, you need to evaluate each waste to determine whether it meets the definition of hazardous. Wastes can be determined to be hazardous because they are a listed waste, which means they are on a list of specific chemicals or wastes that are determined to be hazardous, or because they have a characteristic which makes them hazardous (like being flammable or toxic). Other wastes might be not hazardous but have special requirements for handling and disposal.  These wastes are universal wastes or special wastes. There are different reporting requirements for those types of wastes.

Reporting Tips

For some wastes, you may want to collect your purchasing records. Perhaps as part of your manufacturing process your facility takes an x-ray of the product for quality purposes. This step would then likely generate waste developer or fixer, which is likely disposed of down a drain, rather than in a drum or other container. For these materials, the purchasing records would indicate how much developer and fixer you use each month.

Make sure to keep records of all your waste determinations, even if you determine that one of your wastes is not hazardous. If you are ever audited, this is one of the things the regulator will ask for.

Report Content

In addition to reporting how much waste you produced, you will also need to report where the waste went and how it was managed (such as burned for fuel, recycled, etc.). Your waste manifests should provide you with this information. Remember that what you need to report and how often you need to report will vary by state.

In Summary

For all of the situations discussed here, you need to keep records so you can document how you determined your reporting requirements.  The evaluation will need to be reviewed annually for any changes in materials, chemicals, or quantities, as that can change your reporting requirements.  With proper evaluation and preparation, environmental reporting can be straight forward. In our next blog in our three-part series, “Environmental Reporting – Clean Air Act & Clean Water Act”, we will discuss the requirements for reporting under those rules.

Braun Intertec has experienced consultants that can help you determine what reporting requirements apply to you and help you prepare and submit your environmental reports.  Contact us for assistance or questions.

Jennifer Wolff, PG, CHMM, CPG Senior Environmental Scientist

P: 952.995.2454

Kelsey Suddard, P.E. Senior Engineer

P: 6514427322