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Gas stations may face toxics law.

Byline: Matt Cooper The Register-Guard

Eugene's 20 or so gas stations may be forced to report to and pay into the city's toxics-reporting program, which allows the public to review hazardous-chemical use and discharge by local companies.

The city has required manufacturers to report use of hazardous substances since voters passed the toxics law in 1996. Now, the city council may add gas stations, gas distributors and small manufacturers to the list, said Glen Potter, program manager.

The council review is being prompted by a report submitted earlier this month by the board that oversees the program.

The council earlier this year considered expanding the number of firms reporting and paying into the program and asked the toxics board to make suggestions.

Initially, the council had considered expanding the number of businesses paying the program fees so that the city's $100,000 cost to run the program would be more evenly spread among big and small companies, Potter said. The cost is mostly for workers to compile data.

But later the council decided that many of the additional businesses that would have been required to pay the fees would be those that under the current rules don't use enough hazardous substances to meet the requirement to report them, Potter said.

So instead, the council asked the toxics board to look at businesses that aren't part of the program but do use significant amounts of hazardous substances.

Eugene's 20 or so gas stations qualify, but charging them won't dramatically affect the existing fee inequities between big and small companies, Potter said.

High-volume service stations typically handle hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline a year. A typical Eugene service station emits 779 to 1,198 pounds of hazardous air pollutants annually, according to the Lane Regional Air Pollution Authority.

No gas-station owners could be reached for comment Friday, and an official with the Oregon Petroleum Association did not return a call for comment.

Companies that dispense fuel solely to their own fleets could be added to the reporting program, Potter said.

However, it could be complicated to add gasoline distributors because their operations aren't restricted to city limits and some products might be counted twice, Potter said.

Likewise, adding small manufacturers to the program could force many of them to pay fees despite falling below the requirement to report hazardous substances, Potter said.

The toxics-reporting program doesn't regulate businesses. Rather, it requires them to provide information on the hazardous substances that they use.

Businesses must report if they meet the following conditions: they operate within the city; employ the equivalent of 10 or more full-time employees; work in manufacturing; and use 2,640 pounds or more of hazardous substances in a calendar year.

Businesses that meet the first three criteria must also pay a fee if they use any amount of hazardous substances, regardless of the 2,640-pound threshold, Potter said.

Currently, 40 businesses report and pay fees, and another 40 pay fees but aren't required to report.

Companies pay about $30.50 per worker up to an annual limit of $2,000 set by the state legislature.

Thus, companies with 65 workers or fewer pay the entire amount per worker. Companies with more than 65 workers pay $2,000, which amounts to less than $30.50 per worker.
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Title Annotation:Environment; Eugene considers adding fuel sellers and distributors plus some small manufacturers to the reporting program
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 18, 2005
Words:548
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