New US environmental chemical reporting rule 'unrealistic' - NPRA

03 August 2011 02:21  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--Petrochemical industry officials on Tuesday charged that new federal environmental tracking and reporting rules are unrealistic, comparable to asking Girl Scout cookie manufacturers to identify everyone who buys a box.

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) said that the new chemical data reporting (CDR) rule issued earlier on Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “is imprudent and imposes unrealistic requirements on petrochemical manufacturers”.

James Cooper, NPRA’s vice president for petrochemicals, said that the new reporting requirement “will dramatically increase the reporting burden on manufacturers and requires more information that the EPA can feasibly use”.

In its new CDR rule - previously known as the inventory update reporting requirement - the agency imposes more strict capture and control standards and sharply reduces the amount of product data that chemical manufacturers may withhold from disclosure as critical business information.

The new CDR rule, which falls under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), also “requires more frequent reporting of critical information on chemicals and requires the submission of new and updated information relating to potential chemical exposures, current production volume, manufacturing site-related data, and processing and use-related data for a larger number of chemicals”, as detailed by EPA.

The US chemicals sector has been harshly critical of the new requirements, warning that the reduced protection for proprietary information will undermine US manufacturing competitiveness and chill future investment and innovation.

Members of Congress also have challenged EPA on the issue, alleging that the new reporting rule is not appropriate and that the agency violated rulemaking procedures by failing to estimate environmental benefits and justify the costs to the industry.

Proposed in August last year and originally scheduled to take effect on 1 June this year, the EPA’s expanded IUR/CDR rule would have reduced or eliminated the 25,000lb/year threshold reporting criteria on many chemicals or compounds.

However, in issuing the final rule on Tuesday, EPA retained the 25,000lb/year threshold and postponed implementation of the regulation to 1 February next year.

Cooper welcomed the retained 25,000lb/year threshold and the half-year delay for implementing the rule, but he was critical of the still broad reach of the expanded reporting requirement.

He said that requiring petrochemical producers and commodity chemical sellers to provide end use and exposure information is unrealistic when many of their customers are traders and distributors.

It is “analogous to requiring the manufacturers of Girl Scout cookies to track who eats every box”, Cooper said, referring to the annual US youth fundraising campaign in which millions of boxes of cookies are sold door-to-door and in shopping malls.

By: Joe Kamalick
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