EPCRA Section 313 Brings Toxic Release Inventory Reports, What We Do with Them Is Up to Us
It’s not that industrial accidents and pollution are a thing of the past. Unfortunately, these are still in our reality. What the Emergency Preparedness and Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) brought us was unprecedented data about what is happening in our neighborhoods and cities. Consumers, industries, governmental bodies and rights activists are all a few clicks away from a map showing where hazardous materials are used and disposed.
If there were toxic chemicals being released in your neighborhood, would you want to know? By released, we’re talking about chemicals going into the air, waterways or land disposal site. Do you think you may avoid the area, or perhaps consider moving if it was near your home? The only way to even consider these decisions is with the power of information.
The toxic release inventory and pollution prevention data are waiting, itching to be used. EPCRA Section 313 mandates that information about toxic releases and pollution prevention activities be made public right up front on the EPA’s TRI website. It’s there, and what we do with it is up to us.
Fortunately, and not surprisingly, a number of special interest groups export this data and explore it using glorious math!
It turns out that community and citizen groups have seized this opportunity to conduct risk analyses and make their research public in order to advocate their interests. Grassroots citizen-activism groups can investigate public health concerns, lobby to improve industrial environmental performance and launch education initiatives.
Academics are also quick to wrap their spreadsheets around the TRI data. With so many data points made public, researchers can look for national trends, chemical-specific analyses and corporate environmental performance.
Financial firms are running their own reports. Potential investors can look for environmentally responsible investment choices or run a risk analyses on a particular company. Firms may be collecting data to support investment strategies that screen investments for socially and environmentally sound practices. There is a rise in “green” portfolios that invest in emission-reducing companies or avoid a certain chemical. The TRI data can be a source of information to make these financial decisions.
The EPA and other governmental organizations want to know if facilities are in compliance and also keep track of the success of their programs that encourage facilities to recycle, reduce, and reuse. Offering a place to tell a company’s pollution prevention story on the TRI reports is a strategy to encourage companies to improve workflows and then share their achievements.
We also see a fair number of journalists picking through the TRI data to find a compelling story, and the media is also full of press releases that are often put out by companies using the P2 reports for reputation protections.
The data is out there for anyone with a need for toxic release information about their towns and cities. Communities can be thankful to have such powerful modern information and tools for emergency planning and public health.
At ChemSW, we know it isn’t easy for industry partners to comply with all of the reports and regulations that are due year after year. ChemSW can help with best-in-breed chemical inventory software that enables turnkey regulatory reporting for EPA-mandated reports and more. Please check out our software solutions to see how we can help your facility today!