EPA Seeks To Boost Enforcement On Chemical Violations Under TSCA


Source: EPA
Related Topics: Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) US Environmental Protection Agency

EPA officials are gearing up to increase enforcement actions for chemical-related violations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), an effort that will include better coordination of inspections across programs, greater use of subpoenas and a greater willingness to refer cases to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to stop violations.

The plans were discussed at a Sept. 19 meeting of the American Bar Association's Pesticides, Chemical Regulations & Right To Know Committee in Washington, DC, according to an agency presentation.

According to EPA, enforcement efforts will focus on "ensuring facility compliance" with pre-manufacture notices (PMNs), significant new use rules and low-volume exemptions under section 5 of TSCA; chemicals of concern, including carbon nanotubes, and chemicals included on EPA's "action plans," like short-chained and other chlorinated paraffins; and companies that fail to submit substantial risk information under section 8 of TSCA.

The agency says it has conducted more than 20 inspections on carbon nanotubes since publishing a 2008 notice in the Federal Register on the substances, noting it is most concerned with potential compliance issues with PMNs and research and development exemptions.

Following the release in late 2009 of an action plan to use TSCA authority to regulate short-chained chlorinated paraffins, "EPA began issuing subpoenas to and inspecting companies that we believed were manufacturing fractions that are not in the inventory," referring to shorter versions of chemicals that do appear on the inventory.

The agency is also looking to improve coordination with other government agencies on chemical importation violations, which are also regulated under TSCA. To this end, EPA is working with Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center, part of the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol that seeks to share information among federal agencies that deal with monitoring imports for compliance with environmental, health and safety laws, to identify and investigate potential violations.

"In addition to the review at the ports for TSCA certifications, EPA routinely review Customs [agency] data to determine whether chemicals not on the inventory have been imported," the agency says, adding it has found "numerous violations" through the use of subpoenas and inspections.

According to EPA, the agency seeks to boost TSCA enforcement via greater coordination of inspections across program offices, increased use of subpoenas for gathering information, the referral of more cases to DOJ for injunctive relief in court and a "greater willingness to go to hearing."

As part of its overall plans to boost TSCA enforcement, EPA is focusing on an "increased emphasis on recapturing economic benefit" and working "to ensure consistency across policies," the agency says.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act, EPA says it will focus national enforcement on two areas: dealing with the illegal importation of illegal pesticide products and addressing the "discrepancies in labeling between the approved registrant product labeling and the labeling that appears on supplemental distributors products."

Regions will be able to choose their area of focus for pesticides enforcement from several areas, including retail marketing, container and containment issues, worker safety and fumigants.

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