WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has shown a ``new level of awareness'' in the last month of industry concerns about its proposal to expand the toxic release inventory rules, a plastics industry lobbyist said April 15.
Action on its proposal is still unlikely before the end of the year, and the agency may wind up approving it because it is a high priority for EPA Administrator Carol Browner, said Maureen Healey, director of federal environment and transportation issues for the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. in Washington.
EPA informally has proposed requiring companies to track their chemical use: listing things such as the amount and type of a chemical brought into a factory, and how it leaves, whether in finished product or in waste. EPA has made the proposals as part of an effort to let communities know how companies are using chemicals.
But Healey said the plastics industry fears the information in the reports could be used to deduce how companies make a particular product, a point on which plastic companies are particularly vulnerable, she said.
SPI also said it is concerned that EPA acknowledged it could not find hundreds of documents submitted by chemical companies. EPA may be too burdened to track the volume of information that the expanded TRI rules would require.
A survey of processors in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania indicated that the record-keeping requirements would cost $1,000- $5,000 and take two to eight hours of work for one person, per chemical, Healey said.
The proposal also would require firms to report data that already has been submitted to other government agencies, SPI said. The agency's unofficial proposal is in the early stages, and must first become an official proposal before it can be adopted, Healey said.