EPCRA requires all U.S. establishments that meet TRI reporting criteria to submit TRI data to EPA and the states in which they are placed by July 1, annually. Increased public concern about local preparedness for chemical emergencies and the availability of information on hazardous substances was the cause of creating the TRI Program.
A terrible industrial accident in a Union Carbide Chemical plant on December 4, 1984 in Bhopal, India resulted in the death of thousands of people that night and thousands more lately. Only a year later, a severe chemical release occurred at a similar plant in West Virginia. These two incidents occasioned a public outpouring of protest, so in 1986, Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) in order to reinforce and promote emergency planning. As an addition, Congress wanted to inform the public about releases of toxic chemicals in their community.
In general, manufacturing, metal mining, electric power generation, chemical manufacturing and hazardous waste treatment facilities are covered by the TRI program. However, there are industry sectors and facilities in covered sectors that are not required to report to TRI. You can find more information in Basics of TRI Reporting .
The information submitted by facilities is compiled in the Toxics Release Inventory. TRI helps support informed decision-making by industry, government, non-governmental organizations and the public.
There are civil penalties including monetary fines and possible correction of the violation, for those who don’t comply with EPCRA requirements.
What are TRI toxic chemicals?
The TRI Program includes over 650 chemicals that can cause:
- Cancer or other chronic human health effects
- Significant adverse acute human health effects
- Important harmful environmental effects
Manufacturers, processors or employers who use these chemicals in amounts above standard levels must submit TRI reports on each chemical every year. The TRI chemical list doesn’t contain all toxic chemicals used in the U.S.
TRI is an information disclosure program, which differs from other federal environmental programs that are created to accomplish better environmental performance. This program sets standards and specifies how facilities must operate. The required information must be updated every year and reported to EPA directly from facilities.