Question # 189

189. A covered facility purchases natural gas that contains EPCRA section 313 toxic chemicals. The facility uses the gas on-site to heat buildings and power equipment. Before the natural gas is used, the listed toxic chemicals are removed and destroyed in a flare. The definition of manufacturing in 40 CFR Section 372.3 states that, ‘manufacture also applies to a toxic chemical that is produced coincidentally during the manufacture, processing, otherwise use or disposal of another chemical or mixture of chemicals, including a toxic chemical that is separated from that other chemical or mixture of chemicals as a byproduct...’ Are the toxic chemicals that are removed from the natural gas coincidentally manufactured, and hence subject to threshold determination under EPCRA section 313?
The removal and destruction of an EPCRA section 313 toxic chemical from a fuel before it is used by a facility is not considered an activity that falls under the definition of manufacturing, processing or otherwise use. Facilities that use natural gas in production processes sometimes need to remove impurities from the gas before it is used. Such a facility does not coincidentally produce toxic chemicals as byproducts, but merely separates and removes toxic chemicals already present in the gas. These chemicals would not be subject to threshold determinations for reporting under EPCRA section 313, and would not be subject to release and other waste management reporting unless an activity threshold is exceeded elsewhere at the facility. If the facility exceeds an activity threshold elsewhere, all releases and other waste management activities from the impurity removal process would be reportable. Although these chemical impurities are usually destroyed, they could also be captured for further use at the facility or for sale as products, either of which would constitute a reportable activity under EPCRA section 313. If the chemicals are collected and sold as products or incorporated into products, they are considered processed and the amount of each chemical is applied toward its processing threshold. Otherwise use refers to any use of a toxic chemical that is not covered by the definitions of manufacture or process (40 CFR Section 372.3). If the chemicals are collected for further use at the facility or if the chemicals are combusted for energy recovery, the chemicals are considered otherwise used, and the amount of each chemical is applied toward its otherwise use threshold.