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General Comments

2011 May 18

EPA plans to publish a proposed rule in late calendar year 2011 which would require TRI facilities to submit TRI data electronically to EPA using TRI-MEweb.  The final electronic reporting rule could potentially be effective beginning with RY 2012 (reports due July 1, 2013).

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

12 Responses
  1. Tom Spalding permalink
    May 26, 2011

    I am interested in further data simplification through the web.

  2. Ronald L. Bedard permalink
    May 26, 2011

    In any transition technology, such as using the TRI-MeWeb on-line system for TRI reporting, there will always be some few members of the regulated community who will be reluctant to embrace this new technology. In many cases this reluctance is legitimate, in others it is not, fueled by emotional, political, lack of knowledge, etc.

    The TRI-MeWeb designers have made every attempt to make the system accessible, usable, accurate and convenient, although they have not succeeded in every attempt to make it intuitive. The system does take some instruction and practice. But for those who are unwilling to or constitutionally unable to absorb the instruction, consultants are readily available for reasonable cost to assume the reporting burden for specific sources.

    It has been my personal experience that on-line reporting is ultimately easier, less error-prone, faster and more convenient than paper reporting. I am sure it is also less expensive for Government processing. (This may be the very reason it is opposed by consultants.) I am in favor of all Government reporting, Federal, State and Local, by web-based programs, for these same reasons.

    My only suggestion is that software development companies use software principles common to the most widely used software principles in commerce, for example, in text entering and editing, screen progressions, line editing, logic sequences, etc. Many software programs, especially those designed by State programmers, are designed with a lack of intuitive logic in screen progressions for entering data, and this places an extraordinary burden on reference to the operating manual, which most often is unavailable.

  3. Jeff Axthelm permalink
    May 27, 2011

    The system is not bad, but is anything less than intuitive. The CDX website is a navigational nightmare. Facilities should embrace the technology, it does reduce the amount of time needed to fill out the forms, year to year.

  4. Bill Lester permalink
    May 27, 2011

    I have used the TRI-MEweb since it became available. To me it is simple and easy to use. I would like to see all 50 states accept the TRI-ME submission vs paper or state programs.

  5. Charles T. Evans permalink
    May 27, 2011

    I agree with Jeff Axthelm from above “The system is not bad, but is anything less than intuitive.”
    Also, when I have a question, it would be helpful to get a live person on the phone instead of leaving a message.

  6. Georganna Lagen permalink
    May 27, 2011

    I used TRI-MEweb as a newby to environmental reporting for the 2009 reporting year and found it to be easy and convenient to use. I am sure it is more efficient for regulators and I am all for a good system that saves time and government money. I am also confident that the system will improve over time. One suggestion: Some facilities have commercial or home-grown report writers that take advantage of inventory and other data to produce their reports. A way of inputting a flat file or some other convenient data entry format would be a nice feature. My facility does not report a large number of chemicals, so this is not something I would use personally, but I can see an advantage for others.

  7. Rex Butler permalink
    May 31, 2011

    I think TRI-MEweb is an excellent means of reporting and provides a simplified process for getting information to the EPA. It helps to significantly reduce paperwork and provides a far more efficient method of recordkeeping. I agree with others who’ve outlined the shortcomings of the software interfacing. There definitely needs to be a more intuitive and user-friendly format that will better suit the average stakeholder who might not be as comfortable with the current format. I’d also like to see more obvious queues for special circumstances like the reporting of dioxins. Specifically, a field indicating ounces as opposed to pounds. Finally, more tweaking of the error checking tool would be good since there are times when error notifications are generated unnecessarily…or perhaps a method for disabling the error warning once you’ve verified that it is unwarranted.

    If the percentage of users is so high at this point, it appears that the EPA is already justified in instituting a requirement for this reporting format so that work can be done to continuously improve it.

  8. Mark Vander Weerd permalink
    June 1, 2011

    The ability to file a paper copy of the TRI Report is a Necessity!

    Each year that I have used the web site I have been unable to complete the process successfully at work. These failures (5 for 5) have happened at work on three different computers and computer networks, and at two different companies. Yes, I did find the TRI-MEweb easy to use, the security fixes easy to apply, and the help-desk personal helpful and knowledgeable, but in the end the program would appear to freeze and time out (because of java script errors??). This last go around, I invested over six hours of my time trying to enter the data and failing, when I could have just signed the forms. I am sure it is more efficient for regulators and that it saves the government time and money, but it was a massive waste of our tech support resources and my time. I would much prefer that EPA take 10 minutes of its time to copy our data into its data base. I was only successful in entering the data this year, by using a consultant’s computer. How many people can’t get your web page to run? My experience would indicate that number to be 83%.

    Everyone should have alternate method of filing the TRI report, as long as the TRI-MEweb will not run on ever companies computers (our are Dell’s w/MS). And I think the best alternative is mailing EPA a paper copy.

    • Ralph Horton permalink
      July 1, 2011

      I would not be surprised to find your 83% is too low! I spent the better part of three days (8 hr + days) trying to submit my TRI. I too received several time out errors and had to log in again. Also, I got an error message over and over saying someone else was trying to enter data on the same form I was using (not true – at least on my end), and many other errors that I don’t want to take the time to type in. Unfortunately, my experience with the help desk was opposite of yours – Basically I was told the problems were due to heavy traffic and I shouldn’t have waited “until the last minute” to submit my TRI

  9. Maria Gomez permalink
    June 2, 2011

    I am a consultant that uses TRI-MEweb for filing TRI reports for multiple facilities. It is an amazing time saver. I have never run into issues, except one year my certification was stuck in pending, but eventually the help desk fixed the issue.

    It is an amazing time saver to have all the data pre-loaded in your Form R! As someone used to who review many paper copies of Form Rs prior to their submission, I understand the need for EPA to go electronic. The multitude of errors that come in on paper forms can’t happen in the electronic form–not to mention hand writing is impossible. It takes a large amount of time and effort to look over paper forms, send them back for corrections, have those edits made. EPA has to do that with paper forms but on top of that will need to enter the data in by hand. EPA’s manual data entry creates the possibility of user error that could effect my company’s data.

    I believe the remainder of companies using paper forms will be pleasently surprised with TRI-MEweb.

  10. Diana B. permalink
    June 13, 2011

    I like the TRI-MEweb. I don’t particularly care for CDX. That’s a bear to get through. My company has currently set up 2 certifying officials, just in case we have problems…which we did one year.

  11. Adam Swercheck permalink
    June 30, 2011

    EPA should not make TRI electronic reporting mandatory. The option to submit the report electronically or manually (via hard copy) should continue to exist so companies can utilize their discretion based on respective company policies, practices, and resources.

    Technical issues with TRI-MEweb, which are always possible, could potentially undermine the timeliness of reporting or jeopardize a company’s compliance obligation. Without the option to submit manually, the ability to meet the reporting deadline could be severely impacted.

    It has been noted that, in reporting year 2009, 94% of the submissions were made electronically. Based on this fact, it seems unnecessary for EPA to consider mandating a voluntary application that already yields such a high usability rate amongst submitters.

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