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Move Forward, But Look Back

Well, 2018 is history. Happy 2019!

In our personal lives, many of us have taken stock of 2018 and have planned to do things differently (and better) in 2019. Perhaps you have even made New Year’s resolutions.

As it turns out, environmental management shares many of these New Year’s features, especially if you have an integrated or environmental management system, such as the Recycling Industry Operating StandardTM (RIOSTM) or ISO 14001, respectively. These standards require annual review of a facility’s environmental policy, compliance, and footprint, among other things, and planning for the year ahead based on these reviews, although not necessarily on a calendar-year basis. 

Environmental compliance also involves some amount of taking stock of the previous year by way of year-end reporting. The most-common examples of year-end reporting are related to the Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and stormwater permits.

The EPCRA regulations include “Hazardous Chemical Reporting: Community Right-To-Know” in 40 CFR Part 370. Half of this is “Inventory Reporting”, popularly known as “Tier II Reporting”, which requires year-end reporting. (The other half is SDS Reporting, which is one-time plus when change requires.) If your facility is required to submit Tier II information, this information must be submitted by March 1 for the previous calendar year (e.g., by March 1, 2019 for 2018) to your State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and your fire department (FD). (Also, SDS reports go to your SERC, LEPC, and FD.) Tier II Reporting applies if at any time during the calendar year your facility had to prepare or have available a safety data sheet (SDS) per OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) for an extremely hazardous substance (EHS) or a non-EHS hazardous chemical above its applicable threshold.

EPA provides a list of EHSs (e.g., sulfuric acid) in 40 CFR Part 355, Appendix A. The threshold for an EHS is its threshold planning quantity (TPQ) or 500 lb., whichever is smaller. This can be tricky. For instance, sulfuric acid, a likely EHS at a recycling facility (e.g., lead-acid batteries), has a TPQ of 1,000 lb. However, for Tier II, its threshold is 500 lb. (However, its TPQ of 1,000 lb. applies for EPCRA’s “Emergency Planning” in 40 CFR Part 355, which includes one-time plus change notifications to your LEPC and sometimes SERC.)

Unlike for EHSs, “EPA has not issued a list of hazardous chemicals” for Tier II (in the regulations!). A substance is a non-EHS hazardous chemical is “if it is required to have an MSDS (or SDS) and meets the definition of hazardous chemical under the OSHA regulations found at 29 CFR 1910.1200(c)”. The threshold for a non-EHS hazardous chemical is 10,000 lb. For instance, diesel fuel is a hazardous chemical, and 1,430 gallons (7 lb. /gal) reaches the 10,000-lb threshold.

Almost all (if not all) states require electronic submission of Tier II information through their own state portal (see EPA’s state Tier II list). Check to see whether the Tier II information submitted electronically via your state portal goes to your SERC, LEPC, and FD; if not, you may have to submit this information separately. Using a state portal typically requires setting up an online account for your facility. For help with collecting the required Tier II information for each reportable substance, please see the Tier II forms and instructions.

Besides Tier II Reporting, most (if not all) state general permits and the Federal Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for industrial stormwater discharges have annual reporting. However, for some state general permits, annual reporting is not based on a calendar year (e.g., Arizona’s annual report is due July 15 for a June 1 – May 31 reporting year). Because many state permits are similar to the Federal MSGP, it is worth reviewing the MSGP’s annual reporting. The MSGP requires electronic filing of the Annual Report by January 30 for the previous calendar year. The Annual Report must include the following documentation summaries for the previous calendar year: routine facility inspections; quarterly visual assessments; any rationale for no further feasible reductions in discharge concentrations following a benchmark exceedance; completed and on-going corrective actions; and past and active noncompliance or a statement of permit compliance. An authorized person must sign the annual report, certifying its accuracy to the best of the person’s knowledge and belief. Check your stormwater permit for annual reporting requirements and dates.

Before you zoom ahead into 2019, please check to see if you have any required year-end reporting and be sure to submit any required reports on-time. If you need any assistance with environmental reporting or anything else, please contact David Wagger, ISRI’s Chief Scientist/Director of Environmental Management, at (202) 662-8533.

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