|Each year, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issues an annual report on the use of toxic chemicals in Massachusetts. The 2003 report showed continued progress by Massachusetts facilities in reducing toxic chemical use and toxic byproducts.
Since the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) reporting requirements have changed over time, TURA progress is best measured by using a consistent set of chemicals and reporting industries subject to reporting over a given timeframe (referred to as a "Core Group").
In 2003, the 2000 Core Group (industries and chemicals subject to reporting in 2000 and 2003) used 918 million pounds, or 93 percent of the total toxic chemicals reported (985 million pounds excluding trade secret data). Adjusting the data to account for an 11 percent decrease in production from 2000 to 2003, over that three-year period toxic chemical use among 2000 Core Group facilities remained level.
However, the 2000 Core Group facilities reduced: -toxic chemical by-products by 12% -toxics shipped in product by 11% -on-site releases of toxics to the environment by 26%, and -transfers of toxics off-site for further waste management by 21%.
In 2003, the 1990 Core Group (industries and chemicals subject to reporting in 1990 and 2003) used 573 million pounds, or 58 percent of the total toxic chemicals reported (985 million pounds excluding trade secret data). Adjusting the data to account for a 21 percent increase in production from 1990 to 2003, over that 13-year period the 1990 Core Group facilities reduced: -toxic chemical use by 38%, -toxic chemical by-products by 68%, -toxics shipped in product by 61%, -on-site releases of toxics to the environment by 92%, and -transfers of toxics off-site for further waste management by 58%.
TURA defines three types of toxic chemical use: manufacturing (producing a toxic chemical), processing (incorporating a toxic chemical into a product), and "otherwise use" (all other uses). The reported data show that little chemical manufacturing occurred in Massachusetts (only 9 percent of total use), and a significant amount of this chemical manufacturing was incidental to some other industrial process (e.g., acid gases created from fuel combustion at power plants). Most of the reported chemicals used (about 73 percent) were processed or incorporated into a product (such as plastics, paints, and automotive parts). About 18 percent of chemical use was "otherwise use" attributed to uses ancillary to production processes, such as parts cleaning and waste treatment.
In March 2005, S. 2250, which was filed by Senator Pamela Resor, was passed by the Massachusetts State Senate. This bill served as the starting point for deliberations on updating the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA). Senator Resor convened a working group consisting of trade associations, industry representatives, environmental advocates, TURA program staff, and others, who met a number of times during the spring and summer to discuss ideas and issues related to reforming the Act. After a number of productive meetings, the group came to a resolution addressing a number of the concerns.
Significant components of the proposed legislation included:
The Science Advisory Board (SAB) of the Toxic Use Reduction Institute (TURI) would have the ability to analyze the chemicals on the TURA list and recommend classification of the chemicals into three groups: "higher hazard," "lower hazard," and "unclassified," as well as the ability to recommend deletion of chemicals on the list. The threshold for "higher hazard" substances will be lowered from 10,000/25,000 pounds to 1,000 pounds, with reduced fees for "lower hazard" chemicals. There will also be enhanced outreach to those companies that use "higher hazard" chemicals to encourage substitutions where appropriate and feasible. Companies will be allowed to do alternative resource conservation plans (energy, water, materials) or to implement Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) instead of reiterating the same toxics plans year after year. In addition, there are enhanced streamlined reporting sections and exemptions for certain classes of uses, for example, if a chemical is naturally present in fuel oil.
The TUR reform bill represents a thoughtful and refocused look at Toxic Use Reduction. The law would result in fewer burdens to most facilities, a continued reduction in toxic use, and a scientific process to identify chemicals and uses where alternatives would be appropriate. The Senate Committee on Ways and Means is currently reviewing the proposed bill.
Since then, MA DEP has proposed revisions to the Toxics Use Reduction regulations to implement recent changes to the Toxics Use Reduction Act that were signed into law in July 2006. The 2006 statutory amendments build on the program's success by focusing attention on reducing the use of higher hazard chemicals, streamlining reporting and planning requirements, and encouraging businesses to increase environmental performance through resource conservation plans and environmental management systems.
MA DEP will promulgate two sets of regulatory revisions to implement the recent statutory changes. The first set of regulatory revisions address changes to reporting requirements for the 2006 reporting year (for toxics use reports due July 1, 2007), and will be promulgated in April 2007. These include:
Provisions aligning state TURA and federal Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting; A reporting exemption for toxics present in fuel oil that is combusted (except for power plants); and New metrics for reporting progress at the production-unit level.
The second set of regulatory revisions will implement new planning options for TURA facilities that have completed a toxics use reduction (TUR) plan and two plan updates. MA DEP expects to hold public hearings on these revisions in late spring. Beginning with plans due July 1, 2008, these facilities now have the option to develop either a resource conservation plan (for alternating planning cycles) or to implement an environmental management system (EMS) in lieu of a TUR plan, giving facilities the opportunity to focus their planning efforts on such other areas as energy, water, and materials while still addressing toxics. The proposed regulatory revisions also make several changes to TUR planning requirements and revise TUR Planner certification requirements to fit the new planning options.
A facility choosing to complete a resource conservation plan must select at least one "natural asset" as the focus of the plan and apply the TUR planning methods and source reduction approach on this asset. After developing a resource conservation plan, a facility must return to TUR planning for the following planning cycle two years later. Asset areas that can be included in a resource conservation plan include:
Water Use Energy use (including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and shifting to renewable energy sources) Other materials and products that contribute to solid waste TURA listed toxics used below reporting thresholds Chemical substances that are not identified on the list of toxic or hazardous substances Toxic substances present in articles (e.g., mercury in bulbs, lead in parts)
If a facility chooses the EMS option, the facility's EMS must contain certain elements (based generally on ISO 14001) and must integrate toxics use reduction planning for all TURA chemicals and production units.
The TURA agencies - MA DEP, MA Office of Technical Assistance (OTA), and MA Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) - have been working together to develop guidelines and workshops for planners and filers. The TURA programs have put together working groups to establish guidance and training programs for Alternative Resource Conservation (ARC) and Environmental Management System (EMS) Planning, and for the Science Advisory Board.