Phosphoric acid removed from TRI list

Phosphate fertilizer facilities releasing phosphoric acid will no longer have to report phosphoric acid releases on the US EPA's annual toxic release inventory following a ruling from the US District Court for Columbia.

In its ruling, the Court agreed with an argument put forward by the Fertilizer Institute (TFI) that phosphoric acid is not toxic.

“TFI is pleased the court has agreed phosphoric acid is not a toxic chemical,” said TFI President Gary D. Myers. “The court has recognized our argument that EPA’s use of the term ‘toxic’ is overly broad and ambiguous. This victory represents not only a victory for more rigorous science in the regulatory process, but also removes an administrative burden from our industry.”

TFI’s case against the EPA began in November of 1990 when TFI filed a petition with the EPA to delist phosphoric acid from the Toxic Release Inventory list.

The EPA denied this petition in January of 1998. EPA’s denial of TFI’s delisting petition was based on the Agency’s view that phosphoric acid releases can stimulate eutrophication, the growth of algae in a water body, which in turn can deplete oxygen levels and injure fish.

TFI filed suit against the EPA in June of 1998, claiming the EPA incorrectly denied the delisting petition based on an overly broad definition of toxicity. Judge Gladys Kessler agreed with TFI that eutrophication is not due to any inherent toxicity of phosphoric acid. Consequently, Judge Kessler granted TFI’s motion for summary judgement and reversed the EPA’s denial of TFI’s delisting petition.

Phosphoric acid is the result of combining mined phosphate rock with acid. Phosphate occurs naturally in the environment and is a major component in fertilization for improved plant growth. Phosphoric acid is also utilized as a food and beverage additive and is present in a variety of household, medical and personal hygiene products. Typically, phosphoric acid is released from phosphate

facilities as a solution of weak acid containing 1.0 to 2.5 percent concentrations of phosphoric acid.

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