Pollution watchdog organization Center for Environmental Health (CEH) alleged that Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, a major US chemical producer and petrochemical company, imported 24 chemicals between 2012 and 2020 without notifying the Environmental Protection Agency as required by the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
These violations were disclosed by Chevron Phillips Chemical’s legal counsel in response to CEH’s notices of intent to file suit to compel the company to meet its TSCA reporting obligations.
As CEH announced on May 11, its research had identified reporting violations for imports of over 359 million pounds of benzene and 60 million pounds of p-dichlorobenzene.
At that time, Chevron Phillips Chemical confirmed the benzene violations and admitted that it had failed to report 4 other chemicals. Now, the company has admitted the p-dichlorobenzene violation and informed CEH that it failed to report 18 additional imported chemicals under TSCA.
The petrochemical joint venture owned by Chevron Corp and Phillips 66, imported significant quantities of the toxic chemical benzene into the United States for several years without reporting it to regulators as required by law.
Chevron Phillips Chemical declined to comment on the matter for this story, citing pending regulatory review. The Environmental Protection Agency said it does not disclose whether or not there are enforcement actions underway.
“As a general matter, if a company were to identify a mistake in what was report[ed], the company must correct its (Chemical Data Reporting) submission,” the agency said.
The EPA has fined companies in the past for similar violations, running into the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to agency documents.
With the latest disclosure, Chevron Phillips Chemical’s violations involve a total of 24 chemicals. These violations affected both the 2016 and 2020 CDR Updates.
Benzene and p-dichlorobenzene are classified as carcinogens by EPA and other expert bodies. The information that Chevron Phillips Chemical failed to report under TSCA would have been valuable to workers and exposed communities, as well as EPA itself, in understanding the magnitude of exposure to these chemicals, the resulting cancer risks and the best way to protect people from harm.
The identities and import volumes of the other 22 chemicals that Chevron Phillips Chemical failed to report are unknown because it has refused to disclose this information despite CEH’s request to make it available to the public.
“When we first disclosed Chevron Phillips Chemical’s failure to report massive benzene and p-dichlorobenzene imports, we were concerned that it was only the tip of the iceberg,” said Robert Sussman, CEH counsel and a former EPA senior official. “Now, by the company’s own admission, we know that there were numerous other reporting violations and a serious breakdown in the company’s compliance systems, none of which would have come to light but for CEH’s review of import records.”
In addition to actions against Chevron Phillips Chemical, CEH filed lawsuits on June 29, against three other companies to compel them to report their chemical imports under TSCA as required by the CDR rule and announced a settlement with a fourth company.
CEH’s investigation showed that the four companies together imported 65 chemicals that were subject to reporting under EPA’s CDR rule under TSCA but were not reported.
These chemicals include several recognized carcinogens, including benzene, butadiene, trichloroethylene, isoprene, di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, di-isononyl phthalate, carbon black and arsenic.
Every four years, companies are required by the CDR rule to report chemical imports to the EPA. Under TSCA, the agency is then required to make this information publicly available so that communities and local governments can assess potential health threats from toxic chemicals and protect against harmful exposures.
CEH’S research has revealed widespread non-compliance with CDR requirements. The growing number of violations CEH has identified leaves regulators and communities unable to properly evaluate exposure and risk and underscores EPA’s failure to penalize violators and enforce the law.
“Chemicals can contaminate our air, soil, water, and bodies, leaving us more likely to be at risk of developing cancers and other serious health issues. Failure to report millions of pounds of these health-harming substances coming into the country is irresponsible and dangerous. Chevron Phillips Chemical and every company that has violated the public’s trust should be brought to justice,” said Dr. Vin Gupta, pulmonologist and global health policy expert who sits on the board of CEH.
“Chemical companies owned by multi-billion dollar oil companies can’t be allowed to bring millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into our communities and hide it,” said Michael Green, CEO of CEH. “Since the EPA did not do their job, CEH did. Next time we hope the EPA cop is on the beat.”
Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is a 25 year old organization leading the nationwide effort to protect people from toxic chemicals. CEH pioneered the work to remove lead from children’s products nationally, and CEH’s policy work has directly influenced fracking bans in the U.S. Learn more at CEH.org.