Whether you run a ready mix concrete, brick & block, or precast concrete plant, here's the TRI Reporting information you need to know.
Every year around this time, like clockwork, our voicemails & inboxes start getting full from calls from concrete producers all over the country asking about one specific environmental regulation that is pretty darn confusing; TRI Reporting.
The problem is, the regulation is confusing & virtually unknown, was historically poorly enforced, and is only recently being a source of trouble for the concrete industry. Despite being an applicable regulation for a long time, it's becoming more and more frequently enforced by the USEPA & 3rd party regulations. Concrete plants, just like other various types of industrial and commercial facilities, are getting hit with very costly violations.
Fortunately, the concrete plants often times have an easier job reporting that other industries, regardless of the shape and size of the concrete facility. So let's discuss a few keys points producers need to know about TRI Reporting at concrete plants.
Concrete plants do need to worry about TRI Reporting.
Regardless of whether or not you've heard of it before, this is not a new regulation.
The problem is that TRI Reporting has barely been enforced before, so many industries across the United States, not just the concrete industry, haven't had to deal with it in years past.
Meaning, the USEPA & 3rd party environmental groups are cracking down and enforcing TRI regulations at a variety of operations all across the map, and they're handing out hefty fines.
Waiting on TRI Reporting enforcement at concrete plants is an expensive idea.
While many folks like to "wait until this gets enforced", I urge you not to, for one simple reason.
The violations you'll receive from the USEPA for non-compliance can be applied to every facility you have, going back several years.
So for example, if you ran 18 ready mix concrete plants, a block operation, and a precast operation, and you've never conducted reporting, they could give you a violation for each of your facilities for several years. Imagine they gave each facility a violation going back for 5 years. That's 100 violations. Now imagine that each violation is going to run in the thousands of dollar range.
Things can, and routinely do, quickly add up.
Simply put, the fees for not being in compliance are outrageous.
Personally here at RMA we've dealt with concrete producers getting enormous fines, in the 7 figure range.
But, they rarely end up having to write a check to the USEPA for a couple of million. Instead, they'll have to address the problem, and have a reduced penalty. Sounds easy, right?
Wrong. When all is said and done, anyone who's dealing with USEPA enforcement is going to have to likely:
- Hire legal counsel - You don't think you can navigate handling a multi-million dollar fine on your own, do you?
- Hire an environmental professional - Could be either an internal hire or hiring external help, but regardless you're going to need an expert on board.
- Get in compliance with everything - Need an SPCC Plan? You'll have to pay for one of those. Need a stormwater permit? You'll have to pay for one of those as well. When the USEPA shows up to enforce one regulation, they're going to take a peek into the other aspects of your operation as well. Also, we've seen the USEPA call in state & local regulators, and even OSHA, to let them know they're dealing with someone who's out of compliance. Expect a lot of enforcement action coming your way.
- Equipment & Site Modification Costs - This isn't a guarantee, but a lot of operations are going to change in one way, shape, or form. If you need to get into compliance with a new SPCC Plan you might have to install new tanks or construct secondary containment. If you need to get into compliance with a stormwater permit you're going to need to buy some equipment, maybe hire an outside lab to analyze stormwater samples, or even modify your site physically to adhere to the rules of your permit.
- Environmental Training - You're going to need to train your staff. Period, end of story. You're going to have to change the old mindset, for right or wrong, and start including more environmental issue for your staff training. People are going to need to know that your environmental program has to be taken seriously.
- Pro-Bono Work - If a 3rd party environmental group got you for non-compliance, we frequently see things thrown in like donating manpower for community beautification projects, or donating materials for a new park or sidewalk or something. You'll have to give away your time and product for free, and not in a positive community outreach type way, but in a we messed up and are sentenced to public service type way.
- Payments to 3rd Party Groups - Again, if a 3rd party environmental group went after you, you'll also be writing them a hefty check as well. You don't think these environmental lawyers these groups hire work for free, do you?
So as you can see, at the end of the day you're going to be faced with a lot of bills because you wanted to "wait until someone enforced it"
Folks this isn't like a stormwater permit or an expired air permit or trying to get approval to operate a crusher on-site.
This is the big leagues. This is the type of enforcement action that can cripple a company.
Are you willing to take that risk?
Concrete plants need to conduct TRI Reporting because they do use toxic chemicals.
It's plain and simple folks. Industry groups, major companies, 3rd party groups, and the USEPA all know that the material used on-site at a concrete plant contain toxic chemicals.
When we think about concrete, people like you and me think of it as one of the most versatile, durable building materials known to man. It's made from natural, basic materials like sand, stone, limestone cement, and water. Hardly toxic materials, right? Well sort of.
Concrete producers don't like to think there is anything hazardous or toxic within concrete, and they're right! There really isn't anything in concrete that could interact in a negative way with the environment under nearly all applications of concrete. But, the chemicals in the materials themselves, in their raw state, could pose a problem.
There's lead & mercury, in very trace amounts, in your cement and SCMs (in addition to a bunch of other nasty chemicals with concentrations so low they're barely there). There's nitrates in your admixtures. You're burning fuels that contain PACs (Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds, which are nasty chemicals in fuels).
And concrete plants all across the country are reporting on these various toxic chemicals in their materials.
We've even seen people reporting on the various toxic chemicals found in sand. SAND!
All concrete plants are subject to TRI Reporting regulations.
What concrete producers are neglecting is the fact that like any other US industrial operation, they're subject to chemical reporting regulations if they use, process, manufacture, or store certain hazardous chemicals. Simply put, these reporting requirements have to do with letting the outside world know what types of chemicals are used at industrial facilities, in what quantities, and if there have been any 'releases' to the environment.
You see, concrete plants of ally shapes and sizes are covered under various NAICS Codes. If your NAICS code starts with 327, then you have to report. It doesn't matter if you're running a precast concrete plant, block or pipe plant, or a ready mix concrete plant, you're subject to TRI Reporting regulations.
And, depending on your operation, there may be other areas of concern. You need to carefully evaluate your situation. Don't just take our word for it, you'll need to specifically evaluate your operation. Your best bet is to hire an outside expert on TRI Reporting and have them evaluate your situation.
The cost of TRI Reporting at Concrete Plants
Typically TRI Reporting at concrete plants should run around $2,000 per facility, give or take, so keep that in mind when you're scouting around and talking to TRI experts. Now this might change if you're running a very unique operation, or there's some specific considerations to address, but usually the $2,000 price tag covers everything from start to finish.
If they're charging you less I'd be wary of them doing a complete & accurate job. If they're charging you more they're probably taking you to the cleaners.
When it comes to reporting, an expert is most likely going to have a lengthy invesitgation process to determine your applicability, your release pathways, and what exactly needs to be reporting.
This isn't a walk in the park, hence why TRI Reporting at concrete plants cost what it does.
Also, if you've never reported before, of have gotten in some type of trouble, that $2,000 price tag could be drastically different. Getting someone in the system and up to speed can take more time and effort.
TRI Reporting at concrete plants is no joke.
I hate to be a fear monger, and I don't want to sound like the boy crying wolf, but this is an area of enforcement that is ripe for the picking.
When you look at governmental agencies who are facing shrinking budgets, and need to aggressively find income streams, TRI Reporting has become a gold mine for them. That goes double for these 3rd party environmental groups who are dying to make "big industry play by the rules".
So what should you do? Find out NOW if you should be doing TRI Reporting. If you don't know how, or if it turns out you should reporting, seek expert help. Don't become an enforcement headline. Click here to contact us to today to talk about TRI Reporting, or give us a call at 609-693-8301 and see how we can help.
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