Tuesday, December 30, 2014

EPA Publishes 60-Day ICR for Methyl Bromide Program

Today the EPA published a 60-day information collection request (ICR) renewal notice in the Federal Register (79 FR 78425-78427) to support its program for the phase out of methyl bromide under the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

This notice reports a significant reduction in the reporting and record keeping burden imposed by this program due to the continuing reduction in the number of affected parties as the number of critical use exemptions to the phase out of methyl bromide continues to decrease. The table below shows that reduction since the latest version of this ICR was approved in 2011.

Affected Parties
Previous ICR
This ICR
End Users

Long time readers of this blog will no doubt remember that I have long complained about the fact that methyl bromide was not included in the list of DHS chemicals of interest (COI) under the CFATS program even though it is a toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) chemical and thus potentially an improvised chemical weapon that could be used by terrorists. DHS initially included it in its proposed COI list but removed it from the final version because the EPA was phasing out the authorized use of this chemical and it would thus disappear from the potential list of industrial chemicals that terrorists could use as a chemical weapon.

The table above shows that there are potentially 1,054 entities that could have as much as 2,000 pounds of methyl bromide (the quantity that would require Top Screen reporting for similar TIH chemicals) in their possession at various times during the year. While some of these facilities may already be CFATS covered facilities (almost certainly the four producers are) due to the presence of other COI, many of the distributors and most of the end users would not be.

If DHS had included methyl bromide in their COI list they would have been able to assess the potential risk of theft and diversion of methyl bromide from these ‘other’ facilities. Because they incorrectly assumed that EPA was quickly phasing out methyl bromide, DHS has effectively ignored the potential threat of the use of methyl bromide as a terrorist weapon.

Unfortunately, when HR 4007 was passed by Congress, there was no specific requirement for DHS to review the current list of COI. Because DHS will be working hard on meeting the time tables for the implementation of HR 4007 I really doubt that we will see any real attempt to modify the list of COI any time in the near future. This is one of the incremental changes in the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards that the new Congress ought to take a look at.

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