WASHINGTON — Producers and users of more than 300 toxic chemicals will be required to submit annual reports on any accidental or routine releases of the chemicals into the environment under new federal rules announced Monday.
The new rules announced by the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to apply to an estimated 30,000 manufacturers, importers, processors and users of 329 chemicals listed as toxic under the Superfund law.
The reports must be submitted to the EPA or to state officials designated by governors by July 1 this year and every future year.
The new rules also require estimates of the maximum amounts of the toxic chemicals present at each facility during the preceding calendar year.
"The law provides for significant penalties for firms that do not file," said Charles Elkins, director of the EPA's Office of Toxic Substances. He urged facilities required to file the reports to begin work on them as soon as possible.
The EPA said the annual reports were mandated by Congress to make information on toxic chemical releases available to the public.
"The reporting requirements will also assist in the development of regulations, guidelines and standards for chemical releases and the enforcement of current rules," a written EPA statement said.
More Than 75,000 Pounds
Facilities required to file the reports this year are those that have 10 or more full-time employees and that manufactured or processed more than 75,000 pounds of the listed chemicals in 1987.
Users of more than 10,000 pounds of the toxic chemicals in 1987 are also required to file the reports.
The reporting threshold for producers and processors drops to 50,000 pounds in 1989 and to 25,000 pounds for later years. The reporting level for users will remain at 10,000 pounds per calendar year.
Nearly All Industries
Emission reports are required from nearly all industries: food, tobacco, textiles, apparel, lumber, furniture, paper, printing and publishing, chemicals, petroleum and coal, rubber and plastics, leather, stone and clay, glass, primary metals, fabricated metals, non-electrical machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, transportation equipment, instruments and miscellaneous manufacturing.
Some large users or handlers of chemicals such as dry cleaners do not have to report since they do no manufacturing.
Called 'First Step'
A spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council said the new EPA rules were "only the first step" in providing information needed to curb toxic chemical releases.
Deborah Sheiman, a resource specialist with the organization, said the EPA should cover additional chemicals and more facilities, including solvent users, storage and warehouse sites, and waste treatment facilities.
"Citizens have a right to know who's polluting the environment, and they have the right to demand effective pollution controls," she said.