EPA & Customs

Dear Friends:

I saw an interesting article about a report recently issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General (OIG) that I thought you should know about.

In the report (accessible here), the OIG recommends that EPA obtain import data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and export data from the U.S. Census Bureau, to identify U.S. companies and facilities that are not in compliance with the Clean Air Act risk management plan (RMP) requirements.

Under EPA regulations, facilities that have more than a threshold quantity of any of 140 regulated substances on site in any one process are required to implement and submit to the EPA an RMP that includes a hazard assessment, prevention program and emergency response program.

The recommendations in the report came after the OIG analyzed vessel manifest data related to imports of hazardous substances.  The OIG cross-referenced that import data with the EPA’s RMP National Database to identify facilities/companies that may not be in compliance with RMP requirements.  The OIG identified four situations that could indicate that facilities need to prepare or revise their RMPs:

  1. Imports of chemicals above the reporting threshold to facilities with no RMP.
  2. Return shipments of large empty containers to facilities with no RMP.
  3. Imports of chemicals in amounts greater than the amount reported in the facility’s RMP.
  4. Large shipments of regulated chemicals for which consignee information was not available.

The OIG recommended further analysis and potential on-site inspections to determine whether facilities falling into one or more of the above categories are in compliance with Clean Air Act requirements.  Specific states of concern are also cited in the report.

We see this as part of a growing trend of enhanced cooperation between CBP and other federal agencies to identify and pursue enforcement actions.  As you know, we generally recommend that all companies request their Importer Trade Activity (ITRAC) data from CBP Headquarters at least once a year and incorporate its review into their import compliance programs.  This is the same data that CBP uses when conducting audits.  Now, the ITRAC data could also serve as an invaluable tool to monitor and identify other compliance gaps such as those identified by the OIG at EPA.

We hope this helps.  If you have any questions related to the OIG report or would like to discuss requesting your ITRAC data from CBP Headquarters, please let us know.

Best regards,

Ted

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