Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C. law firm providing chemical and chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in matters relating to TSCA, and other global chemical management programs.

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On March 2, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it reached a settlement agreement with Brenntag Pacific, Inc. for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  According to EPA, Brenntag Pacific, Inc. has corrected the violations and will pay a $128,265 fine.  EPA states that it discovered the violations following inspections at Brenntag Pacific, Inc. facilities in Fairbanks, Alaska, and in Santa Fe Springs, California.  EPA inspectors “found the company failed to submit accurate and timely reports and notification associated with the import and export of nine chemicals.”  According to EPA, between 2012 and 2015, Brenntag Pacific, Inc. failed to report properly the import production volumes and uses of five chemicals as required by the 2016 Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) Rule.  In addition, the company failed to produce first-time export notices for four chemicals between 2016 and 2017.  EPA notes that under TSCA, chemical importers and manufacturers are required to submit CDR information to EPA every four years.  EPA uses these data to track the chemicals being imported into the United States and to assess the potential human health and environmental effects of these chemicals.  In addition, EPA makes the non-confidential business information it receives available to the public.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On March 1, 2021, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) publicly released a report entitled Man-Made Chemicals and Potential Health Risks:  EPA Has Completed Some Regulatory-Related Actions for PFAS.  GAO was asked to examine the status of regulatory-related actions in EPA’s 2019 Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan.  GAO found that EPA completed three of six selected regulatory-related actions for addressing PFAS outlined in the PFAS Action Plan.  For two of the three completed actions, the steps EPA took were also in response to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 (FY20 NDAA):

  • After proposing a supplemental significant new use rule (SNUR) in February 2020, EPA met a June 2020 deadline set in the FY20 NDAA when the EPA Administrator signed the final rule.  Among other things, under the final rule, articles containing certain PFAS as a surface coating, and carpet containing certain PFAS, can no longer be imported into the United States without EPA review; and
     
  • EPA incorporated 172 PFAS into the Toxics Release Inventory in June 2020.  The FY20 NDAA directed EPA to take this action, extending EPA’s original planned action to explore data for listing PFAS chemicals to the inventory.

Finally, in March 2020, EPA completed a third regulatory-related action, not required under the FY20 NDAA, when it proposed a preliminary drinking water regulatory determination for two PFAS, “an initial step toward regulating these chemicals in drinking water.”
According to GAO, three of the six selected regulatory-related actions are ongoing, and EPA’s progress on these actions varies:

  • As of August 2020, EPA was developing a proposed rulemaking for a nationwide drinking water monitoring rule that includes PFAS, which EPA officials stated that EPA intends to issue in final by December 2021;
     
  • EPA is currently examining available information about PFAS discharges to surface water to identify industrial sources that may warrant further study for potential regulation through EPA’s National Effluent Limitations Guidelines.  EPA expects to publish a final Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 14 in early 2021 that will include an update on the current status of EPA’s multi-industry study; and
     
  • EPA plans to continue the regulatory process for designating two PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which would allow EPA to require responsible parties to conduct or pay for cleanup.  On January 14, 2021, EPA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for the hazardous substances designation to obtain public comment and data to inform EPA’s ongoing evaluation of the two PFAS.
Tags: GAO, PFAS, Water, CERCLA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 11, 2021, that it is inviting small businesses, governments, and not-for-profits to participate as Small Entity Representatives (SER) to provide advice and recommendations to a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel for asbestos, part 1:  chrysotile asbestos.  The Panel will focus on EPA’s development of a proposed rule to address unreasonable risks identified in EPA’s recently completed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluation for asbestos, part 1:  chrysotile asbestos.  As reported in our January 4, 2021, memorandum, of the six use categories evaluated (chlor-alkali diaphragms, sheet gaskets, other gaskets, oilfield brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, and other vehicle friction products), EPA states that it found that there is unreasonable risk to workers, occupational non-users (ONU), consumers, and/or bystanders within each of the six chrysotile asbestos use categories.  EPA found no unreasonable risk to the environment.  EPA is now moving to the risk management step in the TSCA process by working to draft regulations to protect public health from the unreasonable risks identified in the final risk evaluation.
 
According to EPA, the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires agencies to establish an SBAR Panel for rules that may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.  The SBAR Panel will include federal representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and EPA.  The SBAR Panel will select SERs to provide comments on behalf of their company, community, or organization and advise the Panel on the potential impacts of the proposed rule on small entities.  EPA states that it is seeking self-nominations directly from the small entities that may be subject to the rule’s requirements.  EPA notes that other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, may also serve as SERs.  Self-nominations may be submitted online and must be received by February 25, 2021.
 
EPA states that in addition to engaging with small businesses, it “is executing a robust outreach effort on risk management that includes formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, and environmental justice communities.”  EPA notes that there will also be an open public comment period on any draft risk management regulation.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 9, 2021, that it will host two webinars intended to educate stakeholders on the risk management process under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the findings in the final risk evaluations for pigment violet 29 (PV29) and n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP).  The webinars will also allow the public to provide input on considerations EPA should take into account for managing any unreasonable risks found with these chemicals.  The PV29 webinar will be held on February 23, 2021, and the NMP webinar will be held on February 24, 2021.  To provide oral comments during the PV29 webinar, registration is due by February 18, 2021.  To provide oral comments during the NMP webinar, registration is due by February 19, 2021.
 
EPA states that it will also hold formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, environmental justice communities, and small businesses.  EPA notes that there will also be an open public comment period on any draft risk management regulation.  According to EPA, while outreach and stakeholder engagement on risk management activities for these chemicals will continue to move forward, EPA “is actively reviewing the final risk evaluations to ensure that they use the best available science and protect of human health and the environment, in accordance with the Executive Orders and other direction provided by the Biden-Harris Administration.”  EPA “will keep stakeholders updated as decisions are made, and next steps are determined.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On February 4, 2021, the ad hoc committee appointed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) to consider current evidence regarding human health effects of the most widely studied per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) will hold its first meeting.  The National Academies will provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) “an objective and authoritative review of current evidence regarding human health effects of those PFAS being monitored in the CDC’s National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.”  The National Academies will also provide recommendations regarding potential changes to CDC and ATSDR PFAS clinical guidance, including:

  • Options and considerations to guide decision-making for PFAS testing in a patient’s blood or urine;
  • PFAS concentrations that could inform clinical care of exposed patients; and
  • Appropriate patient follow-up and care specific to PFAS-associated health endpoints for those patients known or suspected to be exposed to PFAS.

The committee will host multiple town hall events in the spring and summer 2021 to hear from PFAS-impacted communities.  The National Academies intends to release the final report in 2022.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a webinar on February 3, 2021, “to educate stakeholders on the risk management process under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the findings in the final risk evaluation for Asbestos Part 1:  Chrysotile Asbestos.”  EPA states that the webinar will also give the public an opportunity to provide input on considerations the agency should take into account for managing these unreasonable risks.  Stakeholders who wish to provide oral comments must register by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on January 29, 2021, and those who will only listen may register up to the end of the meeting.  EPA will provide a transcript and recording on EPA’s Asbestos Part 1:  Chrysotile Asbestos web page following the webinar.  According to EPA’s January 19, 2021, announcement, EPA will begin formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, environmental justice communities, and small businesses.  There will also be an open public comment period on any draft risk management regulation.  More information on EPA’s final risk evaluation is available in our January 4, 2021, memorandum, “EPA Publishes Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1:  Chrysotile Asbestos.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of a final compliance guide that outlines which imported articles are covered by EPA’s July 2020 final significant new use rule (SNUR) that prohibits companies from manufacturing, importing, processing, or using certain long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) without prior EPA review and approval.  The final guide is “the official compliance guide for imported articles that may contain long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemical substances as part of a surface coating.”  Specifically, the guide provides additional clarity on what is meant by a “surface coating,” identifies which entities are regulated, describes the activities that are required or prohibited, and summarizes the notification requirements of the final SNUR.  EPA states that there “are no significant changes between the final guidance document and the draft document, which was released for public comment in December.”  More information on the draft compliance guide is available in our December 14, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Publishes Draft Compliance Guide Addressing Surface Coatings under PFAS SNUR.”  Comments on the draft guide were due January 15, 2021.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold webinars on February 2, 2021, and February 18, 2021, to consult with environmental justice communities on risk management for the cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster (HBCD) and carbon tetrachloride.  The webinars will focus on the environmental justice impacts of EPA’s development of proposed rules to address the unreasonable risks identified in the final TSCA risk evaluations for these chemicals.  EPA states that both sessions will address HBCD and carbon tetrachloride.  EPA is offering repeated sessions to increase opportunities for participation.  According to EPA, both sessions will provide an overview of the TSCA risk management requirements, the findings from the final risk evaluations, the tools available to manage the unreasonable risks from HBCD and carbon tetrachloride, and discussion of environmental justice concerns.  EPA notes that in addition to being open to the public, it is inviting national, local, and non-governmental organizations, communities, and other interested stakeholders to participate.
 
EPA states that in addition to environmental justice consultations, it is executing a “robust outreach effort” on risk management that includes formal consultations with small businesses, state and local governments, and tribes.  There will also be an open public comment period on the proposed risk management regulations.  More information on EPA’s final risk evaluations is available in our September 28, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Publishes Final Risk Evaluation for HBCD,” and in our November 4, 2020, memorandum, “Final Risk Evaluation for Carbon Tetrachloride Finds Unreasonable Risks to Workers and Occupational Non-Users.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final rules under Section 6(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for five persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals -- 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl)phenol (2,4,6-TTBP) (86 Fed. Reg. 866); decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) (86 Fed. Reg. 880); hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) (86 Fed. Reg. 922); pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP) (86 Fed. Reg. 911); and phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)) (86 Fed. Reg. 894).  TSCA required EPA to take expedited action on specific PBT chemicals to address risk and reduce exposures to the extent practicable.  EPA identified these five PBT chemicals for expedited action, following criteria outlined in TSCA.  The final rules limit or prohibit the manufacture (including import), processing, and/or distribution in commerce for the following:

  • DecaBDEA flame retardant in plastic enclosures for televisions, computers, audio and video equipment, textiles and upholstered articles, wire and cables for communication and electronic equipment, and other applications;
     
  • PIP (3:1)A plasticizer, a flame retardant, an anti-wear additive, or an anti-compressibility additive in hydraulic fluid, lubricating oils, lubricants and greases, various industrial coatings, adhesives, sealants, and plastic articles;
     
  • 2,4,6-TTBPAn intermediate/reactant in processing, and it is incorporated into formulations destined for fuel and fuel-related additives;
     
  • HCBDA chemical used as a halogenated aliphatic hydrocarbon that is produced as a byproduct during the manufacture of chlorinated hydrocarbons; and
     
  • PCTP:  A chemical used to make rubber more pliable in industrial uses.

The final rules will be effective February 5, 2021.  More information on the final rules is available in our December 23, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Releases Final TSCA Section 6(h) Rules for Five PBT Chemicals.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on January 5, 2021, that it is reopening the reporting period under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory notification active-inactive rule where companies identified chemicals that were manufactured, imported, or processed in the United States during the ten-year time period ending on June 21, 2016.  As reported in our June 26, 2017, memorandum, “EPA Issues Final TSCA Framework Rules,” the final TSCA Inventory notification (active-inactive) rule established a retrospective electronic notification of chemical substances on the TSCA Inventory that were manufactured (including imported) for nonexempt commercial purposes during the ten-year time period ending on June 21, 2016, with provision to also allow notification by processors.  From August 11, 2017, through October 5, 2018, chemical manufacturers and processors provided information on which chemicals were manufactured, imported, or processed in the United States over the past ten years.  The reporting period included an opportunity for submitters to assert claims to retain specific chemical identities as confidential business information (CBI).  In May 2020, EPA posted an interim list of chemicals expected to lose their CBI status and move to the public portion of the TSCA Inventory.  In its January 5, 2021, announcement, EPA states that it since become aware of “submitter confusion and issues regarding CBI claims” during the initial reporting period.  EPA is allowing companies to submit, amend, or withdraw filings under the TSCA Inventory notification (active-inactive) rule to maintain existing CBI claims for specific chemical identity.  The reporting period will reopen 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and run for 60 days after that date.


 
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