4 Common Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Reporting Mistakes

If you are required to submit a Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) as required under EPCRA Section 313, July 1 is a familiar deadline for you. But if this is new for your facility, TRI reporting can be challenging, requiring complex information about chemical use.

To determine if you are required to submit a TRI, you will first need to determine if your facility is part of a covered industry based on your primary North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) category and your employee count and worked hours. You will then need to determine if you exceed the Manufacture, Process or Otherwise Use reporting thresholds for specific chemicals in the federal list of Section 313 Chemicals. Then, if you are required to report, you will need to submit Form R for each chemical.

TRI reporting is a complicated and multi-step process that can often lead to common mistakes — from overlooking chemicals that should be reported to submitting incorrect forms. Below are four common mistakes you should be aware of so you and your facility can remain compliant.

Overlooking On-Site Vehicles

EPCRA Section 313 chemicals that are used to maintain on-site vehicles are exempt. This includes chemical constituents found in gasoline, diesel fuel, antifreeze, coolant and brake fluid.

However, chemicals that are manufactured from on-site vehicle usage are not exempt. For example, the combustion of gasoline from on-site vehicles manufactures emissions of particular EPCRA Section 313 chemicals and would therefore be subject to the Manufacture threshold to determine reportability.

Overlooking Reportable Cleaning Products

When it comes to cleaning products, how and when they are used will determine whether the EPCRA Section 313 chemicals in the products will need to be included in your threshold determination. Chemicals that are used to clean restrooms and office spaces are exempt.

However, if the product is used to clean process equipment, or comes in contact with process equipment in any way, then the EPCRA Section 313 chemicals in the product are subject to threshold determination for reporting.

Incorrectly Applying the De minimis Exemption

The EPCRA Section 313 De minimis exemption is for TRI chemicals in a material under an established amount that are Processed or Otherwise Used. Manufactured chemicals cannot take this exemption nor can any TRI chemical that is classified as a Persistent-Bioaccumulative Toxic (PBT) by the EPA. The EPA list of lists will detail what the De minimis level is for each TRI chemical. 

Incorrectly calculating the chemical usage is where the mistakes tend to happen, most notably with TRI chemicals listed as a range in the safety data sheet. You cannot take the midpoint of the range and evaluate against the De minimis level unless the entirety of the range is below the De minimis. You need to be aware of these two situations:

  1. If the range spans De minimis with a value other than 0 as the minimum, there is a formula provided by the EPA to calculate out the chemical usage. This formula removes the exempt amount of TRI chemical and only considers the non-exempt part. This formula is known as the High-Low Rule.
  2. If the range spans De minimis but has a 0 as the minimum, you must use the maximum of the range for calculations in accordance with the EPA. The TRI chemical is exempt only if the maximum is below the de minimis. You cannot use the High-Low Rule to remove the exempt amount of TRI chemical.

Incorrectly Reporting Parent Metals vs. Metal Compounds

Understanding Form R for EPCRA Section 313 metals can be tricky. Parent metals and their compounds are treated separately for reporting purposes. Three situations for reporting can be present:

  • If the parent metal exceeds a threshold but the metal compound does not, only submit a Form R for the parent metal.
  • If the metal compound exceeds a threshold but the parent metal does not, only submit a Form R for the compound.
  • If both exceed a threshold, you can submit a combined Form R for both under the metal compound’s chemical name. For example, if lead and lead compounds were both reportable, you can submit a combined Form R under lead compounds. If you elect to do so, you will also need to account for releases from both. Using the previous example, if both lead and lead compounds were reportable and are being reported on a single Form R, all releases from air, water and waste for both would have to be included in the Form R.

Submitting an incorrect Form R, withdrawing it and submitting a new Form R is not considered a revision. Instead, it will be considered a late submission per the EPA and will be subject to any applicable penalties.

TRI reporting can be complex, but failure to accurately report can carry EPA Administrative penalties ranging from $10,000 to $75,000 per violation, or even per day for each violation. These penalties are enforced at the EPA’s discretion. When determining your reporting requirements, you will want to make sure you don’t overlook chemicals that should be reported.

Tetra Tech can help your facility navigate the various TRI reporting stages — from determining reporting requirements to submitting Form R — so that your facility can maintain its compliant status. Contact our experts at [email protected] to get started.

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