Reporting Toxics Emissions: TRI Overview and Important Updates



The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) tracks the use, creation, and management of over 650 toxic chemicals that pose a threat to human health and the environment (see the list in 40 CFR 372). U.S. facilities in certain industry sectors that manufacture, process, or otherwise use these chemicals in amounts above established thresholds must report annually how much of each chemical is released to the environment via any route, and/or managed through recycling, energy recovery, and treatment. A “release” of a chemical means that it is emitted to the air or water, or placed in some type of land disposal.

Who Must Report?

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know ACT (EPCRA) dictates that facilities in certain six-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)-designated industries must report under TRI. These include:

  • 212 Mining
  • 221 Utilities
  • 31 - 33 Manufacturing
  • All Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing (includes 1119, 1131, 2111, 4883, 5417, 8114)
  • 424 Merchant Wholesalers, Non-durable Goods
  • 425 Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents Brokers
  • 511, 512, 519 Publishing
  • 562 Hazardous Waste
  • Federal Facilities
TRI Reporting Steps
  1. Determine applicability of the TRI report to your facility
    • Confirm facility NAICS code is a TRI-covered industry
    • Confirm facility employs 10 or more full-time equivalent employees
    • Confirm facility manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses TRI chemicals
  2. Perform and document threshold determinations for each TRI chemical that can be present at the facility
  3. Characterize all releases and management activities for any TRI chemicals exceeding the reporting thresholds
  4. Register for a Central Data Exchange (CDX) user account if you have not previously done so
  5. Find out if your state or the tribe in whose Indian country your facility is located participates in the TRI Data Exchange (TDX)
  6. Complete the TRI forms using TRI-MEweb
  7. Submit your facility’s TRI reporting form(s) by July 1 of each year for the previous calendar year’s activities.

Verify the information submitted for your facility using the electronic facility data profile (eFDP) functionality within TRI-MEweb. (Once EPA makes the data public, you can also view them in Envirofacts.)

Toxic Air Releases by State 2012

New and Recent TRI Reporting Requirements Reporting Year (RY) 2013
(Reporting Deadline - July 1, 2014)

Mandatory Electronic Reporting of TRI data
On August 27, 2013, EPA finalized the Electronic Reporting of Toxics Release Inventory Data rule, which requires facilities to submit non-trade secret TRI reporting forms electronically to EPA (78 FR 52860). Effective January 21, 2014, reports for Reporting Year (RY) 2013 (due July 1, 2014) and beyond must be submitted to EPA electronically using TRI-MEweb. Reports that are not submitted electronically using TRI-MEweb will not be processed as acceptable submissions. However, facilities submitting TRI forms containing trade secrets must still submit their reports to EPA on paper, not via TRI-MEweb. This electronic reporting requirement includes late submissions for prior reporting years, revisions, and withdrawals. Facilities may now submit, revise, and/or withdraw TRI reporting forms for RYs 1991 – 2004.

New NAICS codes in Reporting Year 2013
A direct final rule was published in the Federal Register on July 18, 2013, (78 FR 42875) to adopt 2012 NAICS codes for Reporting Year 2013, with forms due July 1, 2014.

New TRI Chemical (o-nitrotoluene)
A direct final rule was published on November 7, 2013, (78 FR 66848) to add o-nitrotoluene to the list of chemicals required for TRI reporting. Facilities that manufacture, process, or otherwise use o-nitrotoluene should begin collecting release information on the chemical for Reporting Year 2014, with forms due July 1, 2015, if TRI chemical thresholds are met.

Reminder of Indian Country Reporting
Starting with Reporting Year 2012, any facility located within Indian country boundaries must submit a copy of their TRI forms to the designated point of contact for the appropriate Indian tribe, and not to the state. TRI-MEweb will assist you in preparing your forms to be mailed to tribal officials. Please note that the reporting facility is responsible for knowing if it must report to a particular tribe in Indian country.

For more information about TRI reporting requirements, please read the Reporting Forms and Instructions manual for Reporting Year 2013 that is available for download at: www2.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program/tri-reporting-forms-and-instructions.

TRI Reporting Common Problems

Common problems with TRI reports include the following:

  • Failure to estimate releases entering each environmental media or off-site transfers. An example is checking fugitive air emissions as “NA” (not applicable) when the TRI chemical is a VOC. Use “NA” only when there is no possibility of the Section 313 chemical being released to or otherwise managed as waste in that media (e.g., facility has no on-site landfill). Do not use “NA” if analytical data does not show the presence of the chemical but you know molecules are present. Use “0” when < 0.5 pound of a non-PBT chemical is directed towards that medium.
  • Failure to identify all categories of chemical use. An example might be a TRI chemical used for cleaning or at a wastewater pretreatment system.
  • Failure to identify the waste treatment or disposal methods employed. For instance, are there any molecules of the TRI chemical in your wastewater pretreatment plant sludge or on any other solid waste stream? Have you considered all container residues? RCRA empty is not EPCRA empty. Use “NA” when only when there is no possibility of the Section 313 chemical being released to or otherwise managed as waste in that media.
  • Failure to use all readily available information necessary to calculate as accurately as possible releases or off-site transfers.
  • Using one production ratio for all TRI chemicals. The correct value is a ratio of production or activity involving the TRI chemical in the reporting year to production or activity involving the TRI chemical in the previous year.

Finally, if you must revise a previously submitted TRI report, be sure to maintain records documenting that the information used to calculate the revised estimate is new and was not available at the time of the original submission. Any revisions not due to new or improved information and/or procedures that were not available for the original submission are subject to enforcement. All records used to complete the Form R must be kept for three years.