New EPA Reporting Mandates Coming for Dispersant Chemicals

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By David Schultz

Nov. 17 — The Environmental Protection Agency is planning on enacting new reporting requirements for companies that work with a type of industrial surfactant called NPEs.

These companies will now have to report data on their use of these chemicals to the agency’s Toxics Release Inventory program which quantifies emissions and discharges of chemicals from facilities across the country.

The EPA formally proposed adding NPEs, an acronym for the chemicals nonylphenol ethoxylates, to its toxics database with a Nov. 16 notice in the Federal Register. In the notice, the EPA said it’s taking this action because NPEs can be “highly toxic to aquatic organisms” after they break down in the environment. Surfactants are often used to break down oils and other petroleum products.

The TRI is a publicly available database created through emergency planning and public right-to-know laws. It contains geographical data on the releases of thousands of chemicals from industrial facilities across the country.

Action Had Been Expected

Barbara Losey, a consultant with the company RegNet Environmental Services, which represents companies that work with NPEs, said the EPA’s move to add the surfactants to the list of substances covered by the TRI’s reporting requirements “has been expected for some time now.” The compounds are considered high-production volume chemicals, meaning they are produced in volumes over 1 million pounds per year.

Prior to 2011, no reporting on the compounds under the Chemical Data Reporting Rule was required for polymers. That rule requires manufacturers to report quantities of the chemicals they make.

The impact of these new reporting requirements might be blunted from a consumer perspective because NPEs are now almost exclusively used in industrial settings only, as companies have largely phased out their use in consumer products, Losey said.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Schultz in Washington at dSchultz@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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