Mercury is one of the most toxic substances on Earth. Minute amounts of Mercury present a significant human health risk since it can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause significant neurological damage. More than 60 years ago, the world learned about Minamata, Japan and the devastation that severe mercury poisoning can have on an entire population thanks to the work of Dr. Hajime Hosokawa, which revealed that mercury from a local factory was the cause of a mysterious neurological condition that left patients in a near vegetative state. In 2013, the Minamata Convention on Mercury was signed by 128 countries agreeing to find new ways to reduce mercury pollution to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic releases of mercury.
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was signed into law June 22, 2016, by then President Barack Obama, and it represents an enormous rewrite of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Under Section 8(b)(10)(D) of the new law, EPA is required to develop an inventory for mercury use in the US, including supply and trade. EPA is also required to identify revisions that need to be made to federal laws or existing regulations based on the inventory results to reduce mercury use. On June 27, 2018, EPA issued its final rule that requires companies that manufacture or import mercury to report information about the amount of mercury they produce or import.
Who Must Report
Any company that manufactures and/or imports mercury or mercury-added products or uses mercury in a manufacturing process must report to EPA, regardless of the amounts, i.e. There are no exclusions for companies that manufacture or import small quantities. Additionally, the reporting requirement covers elemental mercury and mercury compounds. Companies are required to submit electronic reports every three years with the first reports due by July 1, 2019 for 2018 usage and inventories.
EPA is currently working on identifying exemptions for companies that already report on mercury and mercury-added products to the TSCA Section 8(a) Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule and the Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC), and the Mercury-added Products Database. It is important to note that to avoid duplication of information EPA is only requiring companies to provide information that is not reported under those other programs.
Under the final rule, reporting requirements do not apply to companies under the following circumstances:
- Do not initially manufacture, import, or otherwise intentionally use mercury in a manufacturing process
- Only generate, handle, or manage mercury-containing waste
- Manufacture mercury as an impurity
- Activities involving mercury that do not provide an immediate or eventual commercial advantage
What to Report
Companies must report amounts of mercury in pounds used in the activities covered in the regulation for the selected reporting year. Companies are also required to identify the specific mercury compounds, mercury-added products, manufacturing processes, and how mercury is used in the manufacturing processes. For additional reporting requirements see tables 3, 4, and 5, pages 30064, 30066, and 30067 respectively, in the Federal Register.
Coming Full Circle: Minamata Convention
As part of the final rulemaking, EPA noted that this rule will help the U.S. government meet its obligations under Article 3 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which requires parties to the Convention to identify stocks of mercury and mercury compounds that exceed 50 metric tons and sources of generating stocks that exceed 10 metric tons per year within their territory.
We’re Here to Help
We know first-hand that complying with regulations can be a challenge because we’ve done it. Our solutions are built by former EHS professionals with real-world experience. We have developed robust solutions to help clients manage their chemical inventories, track and comply with regulatory requirements, and centralize and standardize the data that is needed for state/provincial or federal reporting. Check out the 90-second video below to learn more about our environmental management solution:
About the AuthorMore Content by Ian Cohen