December 19, 2022
The EPA recently announced a redesign and updates to the statistics webpage for the New Chemicals Review Program.
The update includes additional information and metrics on the Agency’s review of new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), increasing transparency for the public, the regulated community and other stakeholders. The new information and features will help users understand EPA’s new chemicals review process, throughput, and trends, while highlighting the progress the program has made despite ongoing resource challenges.
“EPA is committed to building a culture of transparency and today’s update is a significant step towards improving transparency in our review of new chemicals,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “The newly enhanced webpage gives users an extensive look at the new chemical review process and provides a clear snapshot of the progress made by the program’s dedicated career staff to ensure public health and environmental protections.”
TSCA requires EPA to review the potential risks of new chemicals before they enter the U.S. marketplace and, when necessary, put safeguards in place to protect human health and the environment. Before TSCA was amended in 2016, EPA issued formal risk determinations for approximately 20% of new chemical submissions. In 80% of cases, EPA dropped the chemical from further review, which under the prior law would allow the manufacturer to take the chemical to market.
Under the 2016 amendments, EPA is required to make an affirmative determination on all new chemical notices submitted under TSCA, substantially increasing the Agency’s workload. Despite the dramatic increase in responsibility, the budget for the TSCA program has remained essentially flat over the past six years.
To address resource limitations, EPA has taken several steps over the past year to create a sustainable program that follows the science and the law. The recent action represents another important step in that process. Data displayed on the enhanced webpage will be updated monthly.
More detailed breakdown of new chemical submissions
The webpage now contains month-by-month counts of new chemical submissions, completed risk assessments and completed risk management actions for all notices and exemptions, allowing users to track monthly progress on EPA’s new chemicals workload.
The new monthly statistics table shows recent improvement in EPA’s ability to conduct risk assessments efficiently—in October and November, EPA completed 99 risk assessments, more than double from the prior two-month period. This progress is a result of EPA’s aggressive recruitment and training for scientists with relevant experience and background to conduct risk assessments and efforts to continuously improve the program’s review process and procedures.
Additionally, new tables and graphs on the webpage visualize new chemicals submission trends and changes from FY 2010-2022. Previously, the webpage included a count of the total number of completed actions since the 2016 TSCA amendments, but it did not break this information down by fiscal year.
Status tracker for new chemical exemptions
The revised webpage now also includes a tracker for other applications submitted to the New Chemicals Program, including Low-Volume Exemptions (LVEs), Low Release and Low Exposure Exemptions (LoREXs), Test Market Exemptions (TMEs), TSCA Environmental Release Applications (TERAs) and Tier II Exemptions for Microorganisms (Tier IIs). Previously the webpage only included this kind of tracking for Premanufacture Notices (PMNs), Significant New Use Notices (SNUNs) and Microbial Commercial Activity Notices (MCANs).
Exemptions represent over 50% of the new chemical notices submitted to EPA. The new tracker makes it easy for users to monitor the number of active exemption cases currently under review by EPA and their review status, giving stakeholders greater insight into the status of a significant portion of the program’s workload.
Information on the new chemicals review process
The new webpage provides greater detail about the new chemicals review process, including explanations of each step of the review process for notices and exemptions. Also new to the webpage is an explanation of factors that EPA considers when triaging new chemical submissions for review. These factors include the date of receipt of submission, statutory and regulatory deadlines, the level of effort needed to potentially rework some or all of the risk assessment, and the applicability of new approaches EPA has developed to standardize reviews for certain new chemicals.
Other new chemicals improvements
The New Chemicals Program has taken several steps this year to enhance the review process for new chemicals, resulting in 480 risk assessments completed and 447 risk management actions issued in FY 2022. These efforts include:
- Launching innovative approaches to reviewing new biofuels and mixed metal oxides (MMOs) used in new and modified cathode active materials (CAMs), which have helped increase the program’s capacity by standardizing the review process for these chemicals.
- Conducting an outreach initiative consisting of several webinars with stakeholders to explain how EPA evaluates engineering data for new chemical submissions, with the goal of preventing common issues that contribute to delays in new chemical reviews and stretch limited resources.
- Developing a multi-year collaborative research program with ORD and other federal entities to bring innovate science to new chemical reviews before they can enter the marketplace.
- Aggressively recruiting, onboarding and training new staff to conduct risk assessments and developing new policies, guidance and standard operating procedures.
Study Describes COPD Mortality by Industry and Occupation
NIOSH researchers have published a report that describes mortality rates in 2020 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, by industry and occupation. The mining and food service industries had the highest proportionate mortality ratios (PMR) for COPD, a lung disease that causes long-term respiratory symptoms and airflow limitation and which ranks as the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States in 2020. The study was published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
NIOSH researchers analyzed fatality data for more than 3 million people 15 years of age and older from 46 states and New York City. Ten percent of the decedents had COPD listed on their death certificate. To determine the PMR, researchers divided the actual number of deaths from COPD in specific industries and occupations by the expected number of deaths from COPD. In 10 of 23 industries and 11 of 26 occupations, the PMR was “significantly elevated,” the report explains. The mining and food services industries had PMRs of 1.33 and 1.28, respectively. The construction industry had the third highest PMR at 1.23.
Among occupations, the highest PMRs were for food preparation and serving-related workers (1.30), healthcare support workers (1.29), and construction and extraction workers (1.29).
While smoking is a risk factor for COPD, one in four workers with COPD have never smoked, according to published studies. Workplace exposures that increase the risk of COPD include dust, fumes, gases, vapors, and secondhand smoke.
Read the report on the CDC website
EPA Announces Settlement with TForce to Correct Hazardous Waste Violations in 39 States
The EPA recently announced a RCRA Section 3008 Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) with TForce Freight, Inc. (TForce) to resolve allegations of noncompliance with multiple hazardous waste regulations
at 174 facilities across 39 states. TForce, which operates a freight distribution and transportation operation, generates hazardous waste regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
(RCRA) when a package containing certain hazardous materials is damaged, as well as during day-to-day operations such as maintenance.
“EPA is committed to protecting communities from exposure to hazardous wastes,” said Larry Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s action requires TForce to implement significant operational changes at its facilities across the country to prevent future noncompliance.”
EPA’s consent agreement and final order with TForce resolves alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations
, including failure to make hazardous waste determinations, and conduct proper on-site management of hazardous waste
, among other requirements. The company has 36 months to come into compliance across 174 locations and will pay a civil penalty of $860,400.
As a result of TForce’s cooperation and their willingness to apply the enhanced programs to address non-compliance at all of their facilities nationwide, this settlement will benefit all impacted communities, including those communities overburdened by pollution, by reducing the potential for releases of hazardous wastes.
Under the settlement, TForce has agreed to comply with all relevant state and federal RCRA laws and regulations, to perform accurate hazardous waste determinations, provide timely notifications and reports, complete manifests, and conduct proper on-site management of hazardous waste.
Phasedown of Hydrofluorocarbons Proposed
EPA is proposing to issue regulations to implement certain provisions of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, as enacted on 27 December 2020. This rulemaking proposes to: restrict the use of hydrofluorocarbons in specific sectors or subsectors in which they are used; establish a process for submitting technology transitions petitions; establish recordkeeping and reporting requirements; and address certain other elements related to the effective implementation of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act. The proposed restrictions on the use of hydrofluorocarbons would, in part, address petitions granted on 7 October 2021, and 19 September 2022. The EPA is also seeking advance information on certain topics that may be helpful to developing a future proposed rule including on restrictions on the use of hydrofluorocarbons for certain other sectors and subsectors and on a third-party auditing program to verify substances used in products. Comments on this notice of proposed rulemaking must be received on or before 30 January 2023. POC is Allison Cain, Stratospheric Protection Division, Office of Atmospheric Programs (Mail Code 6205A), EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460; tele: 202-564-1566; email: email@example.com
Hazardous Chemical Violations Lead to $61,500 Penalty
The EPA recently announced a settlement with Sunnyside Zero Storage, LLC of Sunnyside, Washington, for violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
due to the company’s failure to report storage of ammonia at its facility. The company agreed to pay a $61,500 penalty.
EPA’s Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
requires companies storing Extremely Hazardous Substances above the Threshold Planning Quantity at a facility to submit an Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Form to the Local Emergency Planning Committee, the State Emergency Response Commission, and the local fire department. Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Forms support emergency planning efforts at the state and local levels, provide local governments and first responders with current information concerning potential chemical hazards present in their communities, and help them to prepare for accidental releases.
The facility stores more than 500 pounds of ammonia which is above the threshold quantity that triggers the reporting requirement. The company did not timely submit Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Forms for calendar years 2019-2021.
The Sunnyside Storage facility is located within a half-mile of several retail businesses, an elementary school, and a health center. The company's storage of hazardous chemicals at the facility had the potential to present a substantial risk to human health and the environment, as ammonia can cause serious irreversible respiratory effects from accidental releases.
“Enforcement actions like this one send a strong message to these companies that deal with dangerous chemicals – they have an obligation to keep the public, and local emergency responders, informed about the chemicals they deal with in order to protect the communities where they are located,” said Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA Region 10’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “So many communities near industrial facilities are vulnerable to and bear a disproportionate impact from releases and day-to-day operations. This is certainly the case with the communities near this facility."
Enforcement Actions Issued for Hazardous Waste Violations in Alabama
Pursuant to the provisions of the Alabama Environmental Management Act, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management is proposing to issue a Consent Order to American Transportation Solutions, LLC
(EPA Identification Number ALR000064964), which operates a commercial hazardous waste transporter/transfer facility located at 320 Webster Chapel Road in Glencoe, Etowah County, Alabama.
The violations consisted of the following: storage of hazardous waste
at a transfer facility for greater than ten days without obtaining a permit.
The Department is proposing a civil penalty in the amount of $8,800. The Order, if issued, would require American Transportation Solutions, LLC to comply with all applicable requirements of Division 14 of the ADEM Administrative Code.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Alabama Environmental Management Act, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management is proposing to issue a Consent Order to Titan Coatings, Inc.
(EPA Identification Number AL0000266569), which operates a paint manufacturing and distribution facility located at 2025 Exchange Place in Bessemer, Jefferson County, Alabama.
The violations consisted of the following: failure to keep satellite accumulation containers of hazardous waste closed; failure to mark satellite accumulation containers of hazardous waste with the words “Hazardous Waste
”; failure to mark satellite accumulation containers of hazardous waste with an indication of the hazards; failure to prevent unknowing entry into the hazardous waste storage areas; failure to post “No Smoking” signs at the hazardous waste storage areas; failure to post warning signs at each entrance to the hazardous waste storage areas; failure to mark containers of hazardous waste with the words “Hazardous Waste”; failure to mark containers of hazardous waste with accumulation start dates; failure to conduct or document weekly inspections of hazardous waste accumulation areas; failure to mark satellite accumulation containers of hazardous waste
with accumulation start dates; failure to have adequate secondary containment in the hazardous waste accumulation areas; failure to provide for review the job description for each position that handles hazardous waste
; failure to submit a copy of the contingency plan to local emergency responders; failure to list the names and telephone numbers of the current emergency coordinators in the contingency plan; failure to submit a correct and complete ADEM Form 8700-12 to the Department; failure to provide a hazardous waste determination on waste generated at the facility; failure to mark containers of solvent-contaminated wipes with the words “Excluded Solvent-Contaminated Wipes”; failure to keep closed containers of solvent-contaminated wipes; failure to document the name and address of the facility receiving solvent-contaminated wipes; failure to document that the 180-day accumulation limit for solvent-contaminated wipes is being met; failure to document that solvent-contaminated wipes do not contain free liquids; failure to maintain adequate aisle space; and failure to operate in a way that minimizes the possibility of a release to the environment.
The Department is proposing a civil penalty in the amount of $26,600. The Order, if issued, would require Titan Coatings, Inc. to comply with all applicable requirements of Division 14 of the ADEM Administrative Code.
CARB Approves Climate Action Plan to Shift from Fossil Fuels to Clean and Renewable Energy
The California Air Resources Board recently approved the final proposed 2022 Scoping Plan, a world-leading roadmap to address climate change that cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 85% and achieves carbon neutrality in 2045. The 2022 Scoping Plan provides a detailed sector-by-sector roadmap to guide the world’s fourth-largest economy away from its current dependance on petroleum and fossil gas to clean and renewable energy resources and zero-emission vehicles.
The finalizes a process to develop the final plan that has been in the works for two years. This included dozens of public meetings, workshops and presentations and two Board meetings with comments from hundreds of members of the public, stakeholders and community members.
The plan draws on and continues several successful climate programs currently in effect but also stresses the need to radically accelerate and increase their pace and scale. This includes the need for an accelerated target of a 48% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by the end of this decade. By 2045, this economy-wide shift away from fossil fuels seeks to:
- Reduce fossil fuel consumption (liquid petroleum) to less than one-tenth of what we use today – a 94% reduction in demand
- Cut greenhouse gas emissions by 85% below 1990 levels
- Reduce smog-forming air pollution by 71%
- Create 4 million new jobs.
- Save Californians $200 billion in health costs due to pollution in 2045
The plan’s transition away from fossil fuel combustion will benefit residents of the state’s most impacted communities who are disproportionately burdened by pollution from the transportation sector. It also responds to concerns raised by leaders from those communities, including members of the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (EJAC). The 2022 Scoping Plan includes a commitment to build no new fossil gas-fired power plants and increases support for mass transit. It also calls for a multi-agency process to ensure that the transition away from oil extraction and refining is equitable.
“Implementing this plan will achieve deep decarbonization of our entire economy, protect public health, provide a solid foundation for continued economic growth, and drastically reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuel combustion. It will clear the air in our hardest hit communities,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph.
“Now begins the hard work of putting the plan into action. The impacts of climate change in California are personal: we have all been affected by wildfires, years of drought, or record-breaking heat waves. Making this plan work is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the California our children inherit for the better. To reach carbon neutrality in less than a quarter of a century will require all levels of government, all stakeholders – indeed, everyone in the Golden State to be part of the solution. There is no time to waste.”
The plan also includes actions to capture and store carbon through the state’s natural and working lands (including its forests) and calls upon a variety of mechanical approaches to remove and safely store carbon dioxide to address the remaining 15% of greenhouse gas emissions that will remain in 2045 after the stringent direct reductions from every regulated source.
Ecology and Portland-Based Contractor Settle Penalty for Water Quality Violations
The Washington Department of Ecology has reached a settlement agreement with Portland-based 1108 South Hillhurst Subdivision, LLC for a $135,000 penalty issued for multiple water quality violations that took place at Vista Ridge PUD subdivision in Ridgefield.
In the settlement agreement, the company will make 10 monthly payments of $13,500, rather than a lump sum payment of $135,000. The payments are due at the first of the month starting in February and will conclude in November of 2023.
The contractor was fined
in June of 2022 for repeatedly discharging polluted construction stormwater
into a tributary of Gee Creek. The company also failed to follow numerous best management practices required under its Construction Stormwater General Permit, despite being offered technical assistance on at least five separate occasions by Ecology staff.
From September of 2021 through February of 2022, Ecology inspectors documented seven instances of polluted construction stormwater that found its way to a tributary of Gee Creek. Other ongoing permit violations included the company failing to submit discharge monitoring reports, insufficient sediment controls, and unstabilized soils.
Gee Creek is a tributary to the Columbia River and a potential home to cutthroat, steelhead, coho, chum, and fall chinook. Ecology, along with its public and private partners, have been working to improve water quality in the Gee Creek watershed through the Gee Creek Watershed Restoration Plan.
Stormwater runoff from construction sites can carry muddy water and debris into local waterways. Sediments, chemicals, and debris can harm aquatic life and reduce water quality. Ecology requires regulated construction sites like the Vista Ridge PUD subdivision to get coverage under the Construction Stormwater General Permit and comply with the permit’s requirements.
Water quality penalty payments to Ecology are placed into the state’s Coastal Protection Fund,
which provides grants to public agencies and Tribes for water quality restoration projects.
North Carolina’s Workplace Injury and Illness Rate Remains at a Historic Low
New figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor, show the nonfatal workplace injury and illness rate for North Carolina’s private industry remains at a historic low for 2021 with a rate of 2.2 cases per 100 full-time workers. This is significantly lower than the national rate of 2.7.
These data are estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) compiled by the BLS. The rate accounts for growth and contraction in total hours worked in industry, which is an important factor in a state like North Carolina that has experienced significant growth.
“I am proud to see the state of North Carolina’s injury and illness rate is significantly lower than the national rate,” Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson said. “As we have made our way through this pandemic, I want to commend the employers and employees for their hard work and dedication to workplace safety and health. I will continue to do everything I can as Labor Commissioner to push the importance of safety and health at the workplace and get these injury and illness rates lowered.”
The 2021 rate for North Carolina’s local government sector increased from 3.5 cases per 100 full-time employees to 3.9. In North Carolina, the rate for private industry construction did not significantly change between 2020 and 2021. The rate for private industry manufacturing was increased from 2.5 cases per 100 full-time employees to 2.8. The rate for private sector skilled nursing facilities significantly declined in 2021 to 8.0 cases per 100 full-time employees. This represents a significant decline from the 2020 rate of 14.7 cases per 100 full-time employees.
As a State-Plan state, North Carolina’s Occupational Safety and Health Division will continue its focus on hazardous industries, such as construction and manufacturing, through its special emphasis programs, by providing free safety training and education, conducting free safety and health consultative visits, and establishing partnerships and alliances with industries.
Wisconsin Manufacturer Exposed Workers to Machine, Other Hazards
Federal safety inspectors have determined that a falling load from a below-the-hook magnet crushed the leg of an employee at a Kewaunee heavy fabrication manufacturing company on June 7, 2022.
In response to a hospitalization reported by the worker's employer, Kewaunee Fabrications, LLC, investigators with OSHA found workers were exposed to an unguarded machine point of operation that did not prevent workers from having their hand in the danger zone while straightening parts.
"Kewaunee Fabrications is taking this incident seriously. During OSHA's inspection, the company's safety representatives documented issues to improve their procedures and ensure compliance," said OSHA's Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton, Wisconsin. "Manufacturers must constantly review their safety procedures and equipment to ensure all points of operations are guarded, equipment is in safe working condition and workers are trained to recognize hazards."
Molson Coors Beverage Company USA, LLC Recognized as Exemplary for Workplace Safety, Health Excellence
OSHA has recognized Molson Coors Beverage Company USA's Power Montana Barley Elevator as a Star site for workplace safety and health excellence as part of the agency's Voluntary Protection Program. The Power, Montana site was recognized for maintaining an exemplary safety and health culture supported by excellent levels of management commitment and employee engagement, including a focus on dust control and housekeeping practices. Additionally, employees can use an app on their smart devices to conduct site inspections, review programs and report hazards, among other safety-related activities. The site also has a comprehensive and effective lockout-tagout procedure. Non-entry bin sweeps, process logic controls and belt sensors are also some of the many engineering controls in use at the site to safely manage the operation.
OSHA announced the Star designation for workplace safety and health excellence following an evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts. A Star site designation is the highest level of recognition the agency's Voluntary Protection Program offers. The site was initially approved for the VPP in 2019 for a three-year period. Molson Coors now has seven grain elevators participating in the OSHA program, including at sites in Burley, Idaho; Huntley, Montana; Worland, Wyoming; and in Longmont, Monte Vista and Golden, Colorado.
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