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Toxic Release Inventory Reporting Process and Considerations

If you manufacture, process or otherwise use EPCRA Section 313 chemicals, then the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report may apply to your facility. In this article, we will cover the reporting criteria and process, exemptions, how to gather information, common pitfalls, EPA and state reporting, and penalties.

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) is a critical piece of legislation aimed at safeguarding public health and the environment from chemical hazards. Enacted in 1986, EPCRA establishes requirements for federal, state, and local governments and facilities to inform communities and administrations about chemical hazards. EPCRA was part of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) and was designed to improve community safety by providing information on chemical risks to the public and emergency responders.

EPCRA Reporting Criteria

EPCRA requires facilities to report on hazardous chemicals through several mechanisms:

  1. Emergency Planning (Sections 302-303): Facilities must notify local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) of any extremely hazardous substances (EHSs) present above threshold planning quantities (TPQs).
  2. Emergency Release Notification (Section 304): Facilities must immediately report accidental releases of EHSs and hazardous substances to LEPCs and the state emergency response commissions (SERCs).
  3. Hazardous Chemical Storage Reporting (Sections 311-312): Facilities must submit safety data sheets (SDSs) or a list of hazardous chemicals to LEPCs, SERCs, and local fire departments, along with annual inventory reports.
  4. Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (Section 313): Facilities must annually report releases of specific toxic chemicals to the EPA and state agencies through the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Facilities can find the list of EPCRA 313 chemicals on the EPA’s TRI website, which provides detailed information on each chemical’s reporting requirements.

The Tier II Report (EPCRA Section 311-312) is generally focused on chemical storage (due annually on March 1), while the TRI report is focused on chemical consumption or usage (due annually on July 1).

What is Toxics Chemical Release Inventory Reporting?

TRI reporting refers to the process by which facilities in the United States disclose information about their releases and management of certain toxic chemicals. This is part of the requirements set forth by the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program, which was established under Section 313 of EPCRA 40 CFR 372 of the EPCRA, as noted above. The TRI program is managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The main goal of TRI reporting is to inform the public and government authorities about the presence and release of toxic chemicals in their communities. This enhances transparency and promotes environmental and public health by providing communities with the information necessary to plan and respond to chemical releases.

TRI reporting helps drive improvements in environmental performance by encouraging facilities to reduce their toxic chemical releases and adopt safer, more sustainable practices. It also enables community members to engage more effectively in local environmental and public health issues.

TRI Reporting Criteria

The TRI reporting standards define which facilities are required to report and what specific information they need to provide. These criteria are based on several factors, including the type of industry, the number of employees, and the quantities of toxic chemicals managed. Outlined below are the primary criteria:

  1. Facility Type

     Facilities must be part of specific industry sectors as defined by their North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. These sectors typically include manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, commercial hazardous waste treatment, and certain other sectors.

  1. Number of Employees

     Facilities must have the equivalent of 10 or more full-time employees (or 20,000 work hours per year).

  1. Chemical Usage Thresholds

     The facility must handle chemicals on the EPA’s TRI list of reportable chemicals, which includes over 700 individual chemicals and 33 chemical categories.

     Facilities must manufacture, process, or otherwise use one of these listed toxic chemicals above certain threshold quantities during the calendar year. These thresholds are:

     Manufacture or process: 25,000 pounds per year of any listed toxic chemical.

     Otherwise use: 10,000 pounds per year of any listed toxic chemical.

     For persistent bioaccumulative toxic (PBT) chemicals, lower thresholds apply. 

These criteria ensure that TRI reporting captures a wide range of significant chemical releases and waste management activities, contributing to the protection of public health and the environment by providing critical information to regulators and the public.


Not all facilities and chemicals are subject to reporting. Several exemptions may apply to certain operations or chemicals. Before preparing a TRI report, facilities should review the list of exemptions to determine applicability. These exemptions can be found in 40 CFR 372.38 and include the following:

  • Research Laboratories
  • Motor Vehicle Maintenance
  • Janitorial or Grounds Maintenance
  • Structural Components
  • Household Products
  • Personal Use
  • De Minimis Exemption
  • Article Exemption

Gather Information

To determine which chemicals are applicable to a TRI Report, a thorough chemical assessment is essential. Such an assessment would include the following:

  1. Identifying Chemicals: Conduct a comprehensive audit of all chemicals on-site. Review chemical usage data, purchase records, inventory logs, supplier notifications, etc.
  2. Review SDSs: Ensure all safety data sheets are up-to-date and accessible. Consult them to identify any TRI reportable constituents.
  3. Quantify and Record: Calculate the quantities of each reportable chemical to determine if they exceed reporting thresholds. Record them meticulously.
  4. Consulting Databases: Verify chemicals against EHS lists and TRI listings.

Reporting Process

  1. Data Collection and Calculation
    • Facilities must collect and calculate data on the quantities of each listed chemical released into the environment (air, water, land), managed through recycling, energy recovery, treatment, and waste management.
  2. Annual Reporting
    • Reports are submitted annually to the EPA and the relevant state authority by July 1, covering the previous calendar year’s activities.
  3. Recordkeeping
    • Facilities are required to maintain records that support the data submitted in their TRI reports for at least three years from the date of submission. A few tips on recordkeeping:
      1. Keep detailed records.
      2. Standardize your approach.
      3. Automate and build in calculations.
      4. Document information sources and assumptions.
      5. Save all finals and supporting documents.

Maintaining accurate and organized records year-to-year reduces redundancy!

Common TRI Reporting Pitfalls

Some frequent TRI reporting issues include:

  • Misidentification of Chemicals: Incorrectly identifying chemicals that meet the criteria for reporting.
    • Ignoring or Failing to Consider Solvent Compounds: Don’t forget to consider solvents used in cleaning chemicals, degreasers, CIP units, onsite recycling units, etc.
    • Overlooking Waste Treatment Byproducts: Coincidentally manufacturing or generating a TRI chemical while neutralizing wastewater discharge.
    • Facilities Involved in Metal Fabrication: Processes and operations using metal alloy. Even though alloys are not considered reportable, many of the alloy constituents, like copper, would be considered applicable to reporting.
  • Inaccurate Data: Providing incorrect data on chemical quantities and releases.
  • Misunderstanding Exemptions: Incorrectly assuming exemptions apply to certain chemicals or uses.
  • Late Submissions: Missing the July 1 deadline for submitting TRI reports.
  • Incomplete Reports: Failing to include all required information, leading to incomplete submissions. Or, failing to maintain accurate chemical inventories and SDSs.
  • Threshold Miscalculations: Errors in calculating whether the quantities of chemicals exceed reporting thresholds.
  • Missed Deadlines: Failing to submit reports on time, leading to potential fines and penalties.

How Do I Submit the TRI Report?

TRI Reports can be prepared, submitted, withdrawn, or revised through the EPA’s Central Data Exchange (CDX). The EPA Central Data Exchange (CDX) is a secure online portal for submitting EPCRA reports. While some exemptions exist, such as for small facilities or specific chemical uses, it’s crucial to verify these exemptions through CDX and ensure all required documentation is submitted accurately. The CDX system streamlines the reporting process and helps maintain compliance records.

Reports are submitted to the EPA and state authorities by July 1st each year, covering the previous calendar year’s activities. The submitted TRI data is made publicly accessible through EPA databases and tools, enabling transparency and public awareness.


Non-compliance with EPCRA can result in significant penalties, including:

  • Fines: Facilities that fail to comply with the reporting requirements under EPCRA can face civil or administrative penalties. Civil penalties are monetary assessments paid by a person or regulated entity due to a violation or noncompliance.
  • Legal Action: In cases of willful and knowing violations, criminal penalties may be imposed. These can include fines and imprisonment for severe or repeated violations.
  • Reputational Damage: The EPA can seek injunctive relief to enforce compliance, often resulting in harm to the facility’s reputation and relationships with the community and regulators.


Compliance with EPCRA is essential for protecting public health and the environment from chemical hazards. By understanding the reporting criteria, exemptions, and processes involved, facilities can ensure they meet their regulatory obligations. Accurate information gathering, careful chemical assessments, and timely reporting through the EPA’s CDX portal are crucial steps in maintaining compliance. Further, the awareness of common pitfalls and proactive measures to avoid them can help facilities navigate the complexities of EPCRA and contribute to a safer, more informed community.

Overall, TRI reporting is a crucial component of the United States’ environmental protection and public health strategy, providing essential data that supports informed decision-making and fosters greater corporate accountability and environmental stewardship. Should you need further assistance or have questions, please contact your U.S. Compliance Representative.

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