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
 
Section 5(g) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to publish a statement of its findings after its review of TSCA Section 5(a) notices when EPA makes a finding that a new chemical substance or significant new use is not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.  On August 12, 2019, EPA published a statement of its findings for June 2019.  84 Fed. Reg. 39828.  EPA notes that such statements apply to premanufacture notices (PMN), microbial commercial activity notices (MCAN), and significant new use notices (SNUN) submitted to EPA under TSCA Section 5.  In the Federal Register notice, EPA provides the following information (to the extent that such information is not claimed as confidential business information (CBI)) on the PMNs, MCANs, and SNUNs for which, during this period, EPA has made findings under TSCA Section 5(a)(3)(C) that the new chemical substances or significant new uses are not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment:  EPA case number assigned to the TSCA Section 5(a) notice; chemical identity (generic name, if the specific name is claimed as CBI); and website link to EPA’s decision document describing the basis of the “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” finding made by EPA under TSCA Section 5(a)(3)(C). 


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 1, 2019, that it is making additional information about new chemical notices available on its website.  The new web page, “Statistics for the New Chemicals Review Program under TSCA,” allows users to view and search monthly updates for any active Premanufacture Notice (PMN), Significant New Use Notice (SNUN) and Microbial Commercial Activity Notice (MCAN) of interest by case number.  Users can also download a spreadsheet with a list of all active cases and each case’s status.  More information and commentary is available in our August 5, 2019, memorandum, "EPA Improves Transparency for New Chemicals Review Program under TSCA."


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.

On May 20, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that on May 30, 2019, it will begin publishing Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5 notices including premanufacture notices (PMN), microbial commercial activity notices (MCAN), and significant new use notices (SNUN), their attachments, including any health and safety studies, any modifications thereto, and all other associated information in ChemView -- in the form they are received by EPA, without review by EPA.  EPA states that it will not be reviewing confidential business information (CBI)-sanitized filings before publishing.  EPA states that this announcement will be the first of several reminders that EPA sends and, in addition, EPA has incorporated a reminder to check accompanying sanitized submissions as part of the Central Data Exchange (CDX) reporting module for TSCA Section 5 notices.

EPA’s announcement states the following as guidance for submitters to take heed of before submitting their TSCA Section 5 notices:

  1. Verify the asserted CBI claims are correct and consistent; and
  2. Verify the sanitized versions of the form, attachments, and file names are checked for proper and consistent CBI redactions and that watermarks or stamps indicating CBI are removed.  

Commentary

EPA does not specify how long after submission the documents may be posted, but submitters should expect a very short turn-around.  Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) has addressed the topic of CBI before, most recently on our podcast, All Things Chemical™.  When completing a PMN, a submitter must take care to ensure that all information that must be protected as CBI is marked as such.  A submitter cannot expect EPA to extrapolate a claim for CBI in one part of a form to the rest of the document and its attachments.  B&C strongly suggests that a submitter review the sanitized form of an entire document (e.g., a PMN and its attachments) to ensure that all sensitive information is redacted before submitting the document to EPA.

Do not wait until May 30.  Begin developing and practicing good CBI practices today.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On February 8, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register its notice extending the review periods for all Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5 Premanufacture Notices (PMN), Significant New Use Notices (SNUN), Microbial Commercial Activity Notices (MCAN), and exemption notices that were submitted to the Agency under TSCA Section 5 before December 29, 2018, and for which the review period had not expired as of December 29, 2018.  84 Fed. Reg. 2851.  The notice states that EPA requires an extension of the review periods to complete its risk assessments, to examine its regulatory options, and to prepare the necessary documents associated with the relevant determination under TSCA Section 5(a)(3).  The duration of the extension period is a total of 33 days, but the notice states that because the extension is less than 90 days, EPA reserves the right under TSCA Section 5(c) to issue, for good cause, future additional extensions for individual cases up to a total of 90 days.

More information on why EPA has chosen to do this is in our blog item regarding the pre-publication version of this notice “EPA Extends Review Periods for TSCA Section 5 PMNs, SNUNs, MCANs and Exemption Notices Due to Lack of Authorized Funding and Shutdown.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Margaret R. Graham

On February 1, 2019, Lynn Vendinello, Acting Director, Chemical Control Division, of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) signed the pre-publication version of a notice announcing that, due to the recent lapse of appropriations and the Agency shutdown, EPA is extending the review periods for all Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5 Premanufacture Notices (PMN), Significant New Use Notices (SNUN), Microbial Commercial Activity Notices (MCAN), and exemption notices that were submitted to the Agency under TSCA Section 5 before December 29, 2018, and for which the review period had not expired as of December 29, 2018.  

Due to a lack of authorized funding, from December 29, 2018, until EPA operations for the TSCA New Chemicals operations fully resumed on January 31, 2019, certain EPA functions were suspended including the processing of submissions made through the Central Data Exchange (CDX), e-PMN, or other methods.  Further, no review work was performed on the TSCA section 5 notifications received by EPA on or before December 29, 2018, and for which the review period had not yet expired as of December 29, 2018.  Consequently, the review period for any TSCA Section 5 notice submitted during the shutdown did not begin until TSCA New Chemical operations fully resumed on January 31, 2019.

EPA states that the duration of the extension period will be a total of 33 days, which is equivalent to the duration of the time period from December 29, 2018 (the date on which certain EPA operations shutdown) and the date on which EPA operations for the TSCA New Chemicals Program fully resumed (January 31, 2019).  The notice states that EPA requires an extension of the review periods to complete its risk assessments, to examine its regulatory options, and to prepare the necessary documents associated with the relevant determination under TSCA Section 5(a)(3).  


 

On July 28, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to update the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) procedures. 81 Fed. Reg. 49598. As discussed in our previous memorandum on this proposed rule, Proposed Revisions to Significant New Use Rules Reflect Current Occupational Safety and Health Standards, while some of the proposed changes are not consequential, other changes, such as those related to workplace protections, are more clearly consequential. An issue that was noted but not discussed in detail in our previous memorandum is EPA's proposal to modify the procedures for determining if a specific substance or chemical use is subject to a SNUR when the substance, production volume, or use is claimed as confidential business information (CBI). Specifically, EPA has proposed changes to 40 C.F.R. § 721.11 to address these procedures. Below, we review the current procedures and then address how the proposed language would change those procedures -- changes of which stakeholders should be aware.

To put the changes into context, we first consider the current regulations relating to establishing a bona fide intent to manufacture (bona fide intent) a substance that has confidential identity or confidential conditions in a SNUR. Under the current procedure, determining if a specific substance is listed on the confidential portion of the TSCA Inventory (Inventory) and if the substance is subject to a SNUR requires the submission of a bona fide intent notice (BFN), according to the procedures codified at 40 C.F.R. § 721.11(b). If EPA determines that the submitter has established a bona fide intent, EPA will inform the submitter that the substance is listed on the Inventory and provide "which section in subpart E of this part [40 C.F.R. § 721] applies." This provision would not necessarily reveal any CBI information regarding use or production volume restrictions that are conditions of the SNUR, only the specific 40 C.F.R. § 721 citation.

Whether the identity of a substance is confidential or not, the substance may have SNUR restrictions applied to it that are considered CBI. In particular, production volume and/or specific use(s) may be considered CBI and be part of a SNUR imposed on the substance. The procedures for determining the confidential SNUR restrictions are similar to the procedures to determine if a substance is listed on the confidential portion of the Inventory. It requires submitting a BFN to EPA. In the past, when EPA needed to refer to the procedures for submitting a BFN to determine the confidential SNUR conditions, it referred to the procedures codified at 40 C.F.R. § 721.1725(b)(1). This is in contrast to the BFN procedures for determining if a specific substance is subject to a SNUR listed in 40 C.F.R. § 721.11(b).

To put these changes in context, let us first examine the current procedures for EPA's response to a BFN submitted to determine the CBI provisions of a SNUR. 40 C.F.R. § 721.1725(b)(1)(iv) states:

If EPA determines that the person has a bona fide intent to manufacture, import, or process the chemical substance, EPA will tell the person whether the use for which the person intends to manufacture, import, or process the substance is a significant new use [(SNU)] under paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section. If EPA tells the person that the intended use is not a significant new use under paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section, EPA will tell the person what activities would constitute a significant new use under paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section.

This means that upon making its determination that a submitter has demonstrated a bona fide intent, EPA either:

  1. Tells the BFN submitter that the use specified in the BFN is a SNU, in which case the submitter must prepare and submit a Significant New Use Notice (SNUN) at least 90 days prior to manufacturing the substance for the particular use of the substance; or
     
  2. Tells the BFN submitter that the use specified in the BFN is not a SNU, in which case EPA tells the submitter what activities would constitute a SNU for the substance.

Note that in the first scenario, where a SNUN is required, EPA does not inform the submitter of the existing confidential SNUR conditions. EPA subsequently makes a determination based on the information in the SNUN when submitted, and informs the SNUN submitter of any restrictions imposed to manage risks associated with the use described in the SNUN. The new restrictions could either be unique to the conditions of the SNUN or could result in a modification of the previously established CBI SNUR restrictions. Also, EPA could amend the confidential portion of the SNUR to include any new permissible activities as a result of the SNUN (e.g., add another CBI use) without informing either manufacturer of the other's confidential SNUR conditions.

In the second scenario, where EPA determines that the BFN submitter's use is not a SNU, EPA informs the BFN submitter of any restrictions associated with that use that might further restrict the BFN submitter or its customers (e.g., the BFN submitter's use is permitted, but that the production volume is capped by the SNUR). As a matter of practice, EPA informs the original submitter that another submitter has demonstrated a bona fide intent, but this practice is not codified in the C.F.R. Furthermore, the original submitter is not informed of the BFN submitter's intent, only that the BFN submitter's use was not a SNU, whereas the BFN submitter knows the heretofore confidential specific use and production volume ceiling (if any). These two outcomes are not aligned. The first scenario is more protective of both entities' CBI. The second scenario provides the BFN submitter some visibility of the original submitter's CBI, but not the reverse.

For example: Manufacturer 1 submits a premanufacture notice for a non-confidential chemical substance to be used as an intermediate to manufacture a pesticide and claims the use as confidential (with a generic use of "intermediate"). EPA makes a determination that the use specified in the PMN does not present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment, but other uses may present issues, so EPA imposes a SNUR invoking 40 C.F.R. § 721.80(j) limiting its use to the use listed in the PMN (intermediate to manufacture a pesticide). Manufacturer 1 then commences commercially manufacturing the substance and files a Notice of Commencement (NOC), placing the substance on the public portion of the Inventory. Some time later, Manufacturer 2 seeks to use the same substance as an intermediate to manufacture an anti-oxidant lubrication additive. Manufacturer 2 submits a BFN and EPA informs Manufacturer 2 that its use is a SNU. Manufacturer 2 then submits a SNUN for its use, also claiming the specific use as confidential and listing "intermediate" as the generic use. EPA evaluates the SNUN and determines that this particular use is not likely to present unreasonable risk to health or the environment, but other uses may present issues, so EPA adds the new use to the confidential uses permitted for the substance, but leaves the other SNUR provisions in place and neither manufacturer knows the specific use of the other.

We note that manufacturers must communicate SNUR restrictions to their customers. 40 C.F.R. § 721.5 requires that to avoid submitting a SNUN, each manufacturer must provide the SNUR conditions to its customer(s). 40 C.F.R. § 721.5(a)(2) requires that "[a] person who intends to manufacture, import, or process for commercial purposes a chemical substance [with a SNUR], and intends to distribute the substance in commerce" must submit a SNUN. Most manufacturers avoid this SNUN requirement by taking advantage of the provisions of 40 C.F.R. § 721.5(a)(2)(i) that state that a SNUN is not required if the manufacturer can document:

That the person [manufacturer] has notified the recipient [customer], in writing, of the specific section in subpart E of this part which identifies the substance and its designated significant new uses.

In the example above, each manufacturer notifies its own customers of the appropriate C.F.R. citation and SNUR restrictions (Manufacturer 1 informs its customer that the use is limited to use as an intermediate for a pesticide; Manufacturer 2 informs its customer that the use is limited to use as an intermediate for an antioxidant). The customers of each manufacturer remain in compliance with the SNUR and 40 C.F.R. § 721.5, assuming each customer restricts its use based on the information provided by the separate manufacturers. In this scenario, all four parties (both manufacturers and both customers) can be in compliance without EPA disclosing the confidential use of one manufacturer to the other.

EPA has proposed incorporating the BFN procedures for determining whether an activity is a SNU under the confidential provisions of a SNUR into 40 C.F.R. § 721.11(a) (the proposed key changes are emphasized):

A person who intends to manufacture or process a chemical substance which is subject to a significant new use rule in subpart E of this part may ask EPA whether the substance or a proposed use is subject to the requirements of this part if that substance is described by a generic chemical name or if the significant new use is confidential and therefore not described specifically in the rule. EPA will answer such an inquiry only if EPA determines that the person has a bona fide intent to manufacture or process the chemical substance for commercial purposes.

This change is innocuous. It simply incorporates the two BFN procedures into a single paragraph. EPA's proposal on procedures for its response to such a BFN, proposed to be codified at 40 C.F.R. § 721.11(e) alters procedures for how EPA responds (again, proposed key changes emphasized):

If the manufacturer or processor has shown a bona fide intent to manufacture or process the substance and has provided sufficient unambiguous chemical identity information to enable EPA to make a conclusive determination as to the identity of the substance, EPA will inform the manufacturer or processor [the BFN submitter] whether the chemical substance is subject to this part and, if so, which section in subpart E of this part applies, and identify any confidential significant new use designations.

Under the proposed rule, once a submitter has established a bona fide intent, EPA will disclose to the BFN submitter any confidential significant new use designations, including specific use and production volume restrictions, whether or not those restrictions are relevant to or would limit the BFN submitter's commercial activity as proposed in the BFN. As proposed by EPA, this disclosure would be made to the BFN submitter without regard for the existing CBI claims on the information, and without informing the original entity holding the CBI claim before or after making this disclosure.

Importantly, this change means that EPA is switching from a presumption of protecting CBI in the SNUR to actively informing later submitters of information proprietary to the original submitter. While 40 C.F.R. § 721.11(f) states that informing later submitters of SNUR restrictions "will not be considered public disclosure of [CBI] under Section 14," it is an unavoidable fact that EPA's proposed approach involves disclosure of CBI to an additional party, one that could be a competitor to the original submitter (both are, after all, manufacturing the same substance), a fact pattern that is very likely to be of considerable concern to the original submitter.

We do not read provisions in either old or new TSCA to authorize EPA to disclose CBI in the way that is proposed in this notice. The CBI SNUR requirements do not fall into any of the information types discussed under Section 14(b) of new TSCA that concerns information not protected from disclosure. The BFN submitter cannot be considered to have official duties or needs related to those discussed at Section 14(d) of new TSCA, the provision that allows CBI disclosure under certain circumstances. The BFN submitter only needs to know if the proposed use is a SNU or not. If EPA informs the BFN submitter that the proposed use is not a SNU, the BFN submitter is effectively bound to the use terms laid out in the BFN and would need to submit a new BFN if other uses or changes in the initially proposed use are contemplated.

Based on the foregoing, with the proposed language, the second submitter is unavoidably privy to the CBI claimed by the first submitter, but there is no provision in the C.F.R to inform the first submitter of the conditions sought by the second submitter. This is in contrast to the provisions in 40 C.F.R. § 720.25(b)(6) in which the original submitter is notified if and when a second entity has demonstrated a bona fide intent that is listed on the CBI portion of the Inventory. Both the original submitter and the BFN submitter are informed that another entity is manufacturing the substance for a TSCA purpose.

EPA must provide the statutory basis and rationale for informing a BFN submitter of confidential use or production volume conditions. If EPA can provide the statutory basis for such disclosure, EPA must also explain why it must disclose such information to the BFN submitter. If EPA can somehow justify disclosing the CBI SNUR conditions, it should codify its obligation to notify the original CBI submitter that such disclosure has occurred. The current proposed SNUR provides for neither equal disclosure nor equal confidentiality as a result of BFN submission.

TSCA stakeholders should carefully consider commenting on the changes to 40 C.F.R. § 721.11 to be sure that EPA is acting within its statutory authority, justifying why disclosure is necessary, and providing for notification of the original CBI holder. While the consequences of these proposed provisions may be inadvertent, the proposed rule either needs to be withdrawn and re-proposed to reflect the law, or rationalized in a way that our careful reading of TSCA does not allow.