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Saturday, April 19, 2014

EPA hosts toxic release inventory workshop

Twenty-five representatives of local industrial facilities, environmental consulting companies, and federal facilities in the CNMI attended the Toxics Release Inventory or TRI technical assistance workshop on Oct. 31 at the Fiesta Resort & Spa in Garapan.

The free training was designed to help these representatives determine if their facilities are required to report to TRI and to provide information on how to do so if reporting is required, said John Wilhelmi, who conducted last month’s training.

TRI is a database maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that contains information about the amounts of more than 650 toxic chemicals that some facilities release to the environment and manage as waste.

“The data included in TRI is submitted by representatives of industrial facilities and federal facilities. It is therefore important that these individuals understand the TRI reporting requirements, and that is why the TRI training was targeted to this audience,” Wilhelmi explained.

Wilhelmi, vice president of Eastern Research Group, Inc. or ERG, disclosed that their company has a contract to support U.S. EPA Region 9 office in San Francisco with the TRI program.

ERG’s contract, Wilhelmi said, allowed him to conduct the training workshops on Saipan and in Guam. Approximately 50 participants took part in the TRI workshop at the Guam Power Authority on Oct. 26.

According to Wilhelmi, ERG employees have taught more than a hundred EPA-sponsored workshops on the TRI program in the mainland in the past 15 years.

While EPA has made available TRI compliance assistance to the islands through webinars and online pre-recorded training sessions, last month’s trainings were the first “in-person” workshops in the Marianas.

Wilhelmi noted that participants had varying degrees of knowledge about TRI. “Some people were quite familiar with the reporting requirements and had been submitting TRI data to EPA for several years, and other people had never heard of TRI and attended the workshops to determine if the reporting requirements apply to them,” Wilhelmi said.

TRI reporting is an annual requirement, and he urged representatives of CNMI facilities to determine if they are required to report and ensure that their reporting is completed by July 1 of the following year.

Since TRI reporting is required under federal regulation, failure to submit TRI forms can result in enforcement and fines.

The latest TRI data for the Commonwealth, released in January 2012, showed that the volume of toxic chemicals released decreased from 6,108 lbs in 2009 to 5,695 lbs in 2010.

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