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TRI Form R Reporting & Concrete Plants - Are You Doing TRI Reporting?

  
  
  

By: Doug Ruhlin

Concrete is one of the most versatile, durable building materials known to man - made from natural, basic materials of sand, stone, limestone cement, and water. 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.

TRI Reporting

However, concrete producers, like any other US industrial operation, is subject to chemical reporting regulations if they use, process, manufacture, or store certain chemicals above threshold quantities set by the USEPA. These reporting requirements are part of the SARA / EPCRA regulations, and have to do with letting the outside world know what types of chemicals are stored at industrial facilities, in what quantities, and if there have been any releases to the environment.

The most familiar of these programs is the Community Right to Know reporting, often called CRTK or Tier II Reporting, for the forms commonly used, which requires reporting of all MSDS materials which are present in quantities over 10,000 pounds (for most chemicals, some have lower thresholds). Common materials reported at concrete plants include fuels, admixtures, cement, and perhaps sand.

But this blog post is about the "big brother" of reporting, which is for TOXIC chemicals (toxic chemicals are a subset of hazardous chemicals). This reporting is called TRI Reporting, standing for Toxic Release Inventory Reporting, or Form R Reporting for the form that is used. Different than Tier II Reporting - different deadline, chemicals, and reporting thresholds.

TRI Reporting

Concrete plants don't typically have any toxic materials present that would be required to be reported in TRI Reporting, do they? The answer is yes and no.

The most commonly reported chemical that MAY be present at a concrete plant that appears on the USEPA's toxic chemical are nitrate chemicals. These MAY be present within certain non-chloride accelerator admixtures. How do you know? Check your MSDS, look for nitrates, then calculate how much you have used, stored, processed, or otherwise handled over the course of the past calendar year. Was it over 25,000 pounds? Then you should be doing TRI Reporting!

TRI Reporting

But is this every concrete plant? Absolutely not. In fact, it's probably not most concrete plants. My experience doing TRI Reporting at concrete plants is that it's usually only either very high production plants, or those doing some sort of large cold-weather job that uses non-chloride accelerators. Not all plants need to worry about TRI Form R Reporting.

So, most concrete plants likely don't have to do this. But how do you know? You need to check! If you are unsure if you need to do TRI Form R Reporting, here's a great resource to check out.

What if you find out you were supposed to be doing TRI Form R Reporting, and haven't been? That's a very tricky question. I'd advise you consider qualified assistance in that instance. You may be facing a potential enforcement situation for not conducting TRI Reporting that could land you in a lot of hot water. The USEPA Audit Policy may be of help to you, but proceed very carefully!

What if there are toxic chemicals present at the concrete plant? Does that mean the concrete plant is a threat to the environment? NO!! The admixture is kept in a storage container, mixed into new concrete, which then goes to a jobsite and hardens. The nitrate content, extremely small to begin with, is now bound into the concrete and unavailable for release to the environment. TRI Reporting requires the estimation of releases of any toxic chemical to the environment, and most who do report indicate that there are no releases. So, no harm to the environment!

So is everyone reporting who's required?

I did a quick check today of one entire region of the US, by looking at the USEPA Echo database. It lists, among other things, how many plants are doing TRI Reporting. I won't divulge what region of the country, or how many concrete plants came up, but I will let you know that only 8% of the plants listed appear to be doing TRI Form R Reporting. Multiple states, only a handful are doing TRI Form R Reporting. Hmmmm...

That seems to be an awfully low percentage of facilities doing TRI Reporting. Meaning what? Meaning a potentially high amount of non-compliance. And a high amount of potential liability.

I've been talking about TRI Reporting for years now, and so has NRMCA. Is the message getting through? What should you do? Find out NOW if you should be doing TRI Form R Reporting. If you don't know how, or if it turns out you should be doing TRI Reporting, seek expert help. Don't become an enforcement headline.

 

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Comments

Doug, great post. I wasn't aware of this reporting requirement. From the sounds of it, no one else does either... too much to keep after these days. Thanks for the education. The EPA tutorial link is great as well.
Posted @ Wednesday, March 14, 2012 2:26 PM by Owen Blevins
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