CEH Takes Legal Action Against Three Chemical Importers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2021
Media Contact: Aimee Dewing, firstname.lastname@example.org
Investigation Reveals Numerous Reporting Violations by Four Importers of Unsafe Chemicals and Spurs Legal Action to Force Compliance
Failure to report involves several carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals and prevents EPA and communities from identifying threats to public health
Oakland, CA – Pollution watchdog Center for Environmental Health (CEH) announced today that, following an investigation, it is taking legal action against three chemical importers who failed to meet reporting obligations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The three importers are:
- 3N International in Akron Ohio (see complaint notice)
- Harwick Standard Distribution Corp. in Akron (see complaint notice)
- Braskem Inc, the US affiliate of a large Brazilian chemical manufacturer (see complaint notice)
Today, CEH filed suits against these importers in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia under section 20(a) of TSCA to compel them to file the reports required under the law. CEH notified the importers of their apparent violations in February in accordance with TSCA section 20(b) but the companies did not commit to remedy the violations.
After being alerted to TSCA violations by CEH, a fourth importer – Tribute Energy – approached CEH and entered into an agreement to audit its operations and come into compliance. CEH is not taking legal action against Tribute in recognition of its good faith and commitment to following the law.
CEH’s investigation showed that the four companies together imported 65 chemicals that were subject to reporting under EPA’s Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule under TSCA but were not reported. These chemicals include several recognized carcinogens, including benzene, butadiene, trichloroethylene, isoprene, di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, di-isononyl phthalate, carbon black and arsenic. In some cases, the import quantities were extremely large. For example, according to CEH’s research, Braskem failed to report benzene imports totaling 43.4 million pounds, naphtha imports totaling nearly 106 million pounds and paraxylene imports totaling nearly 12 million pounds.
EPA has designated some of these chemicals as high-priority substances under TSCA and is conducting risk evaluations on them to determine health threats to exposed populations. CDR reporting is critical in determining these risks because, according to EPA, the “exposure information [reported] is an essential part of developing risk evaluations and . . collecting this exposure information is critical to [EPA’s] mission of characterizing exposure [and] identifying potential risks.” 76 Federal Register 50823.
“CDR reporting is a critical tool in informing communities of the chemicals imported into, transported through, and stored nearby them, and enabling EPA to protect public health,” said Michael Green, CEH’s CEO. “The reporting violations that we uncovered in our investigation are more evidence of a gaping hole in the safety net that safeguards vulnerable populations, namely communities of color and low-wealth communities, and helps state and federal regulators do their jobs.”
The legal actions against the three companies follow CEH’s announcement on May 11, 2021 of CDR violations committed by Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (CPC), a major US chemical producer and petrochemical company. The CPC violations involved 8 chemicals, including two carcinogens, benzene and dichlorobenzene (DCB). According to CEH’s analysis of import records, CPC failed to report over 359 million pounds of benzene and over 60 million pounds of DCB.
“Together with the serious CPC violations, these new cases demonstrate that CDR non-compliance is widespread and significant,” said Robert Sussman, CEH counsel and a former EPA senior official. “We believe there are many more violations that have not yet been brought to light. Non-profit groups like CEH can do only so much to deter violations if EPA does not effectively use the enforcement tools at its disposal to find and penalize violators.”
In February, CEH notified EPA that its review of import data revealed CDR violations by CPC, Harwick Standard, 3N, Braskem, and Tribute Energy, but EPA took no action. EPA now has the opportunity to intervene in the three cases filed by CEH.
EPA promulgated the CDR rule in 2011 under section 8(a) of TSCA. Under the rule, reporting is required for all chemicals manufactured or imported in volumes of 25,000 pounds or more per facility in a given reporting year. For chemicals already regulated under certain TSCA provisions, the reporting threshold is set at 2,500 pounds per reporting year. Manufacturers and importers subject to the CDR must report every four years. A reporting cycle was completed in the fall of 2016, with reports due on October 31, 2016. For this CDR update, activities conducted in calendar years 2012- 2015 determined the application of reporting requirements and the information to be reported. The latest reporting cycle covered calendar years 2016-2019, with reports due on January 29, 2021. EPA has not yet posted reports for this update on its Website.
Under the CDR rule, reports must be submitted using a “Form U.” Separate forms must be filed for each manufacture or import site. The Form U must include import/manufacture volume for each of the last four years, the number of workers exposed and basic information about site operations. It must also include information about industrial, commercial and consumer uses of the substance at other sites and the potential for exposure associated with these downstream activities.
The Center for Environmental Health is committed to protecting people from toxic chemicals through research, legal action and by working with communities, consumers, workers, government, and the private sector to demand and support business practices that are safe for public health and the environment.