READ Act Aims to Centralize Asbestos Reporting

5/8/2015

On March 10, 2015 Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced the Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database Act, also known at the READ Act, to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. On April 27, 2015, the House of Representatives followed suit when Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Gene Green (D-TX) introduced the companion legislation to the House. The Act seeks to amend the Asbestos Information Act of 1988 by establishing a public database of asbestos-containing products.

When established in 1988 the Asbestos Information Act required companies to report to the EPA a description of the asbestos-containing products they manufactured, the results of which were reported in the Federal Register. As the Federal Register is not easily accessible to most Americans, the READ Act seeks to have this reported information on a central database that is easily found and searchable by the general public.

The READ Act would require the EPA to set up a database that is publicly available, searchable and accessible through the EPA's website. The database would include the following information: 1. type or class of asbestos-containing product, 2. the manufacturer of the product, 3. import history of the product, 4. the name and street address of any location that is accessible by the public where the product is known to be located in the preceding year, and 5. any additional information the EPA deems is needed for the public to avoid asbestos exposure.

The Act requires any entity that "manufactured, processed, distributed, sold, imported, transported or stored any asbestos-containing product" in the preceding year to submit a written report to the EPA with the characteristics and locations of any its asbestos-containing products. Additionally, any person found to have not submitted the required information would be fined $10,000 a day for each day that the information is not provided past the applicable deadline. Moreover, the EPA would levy the same $10,000 fine for any knowingly false information provided.

If passed, the READ Act would impose detailed reporting requirements for any entity that has any hand in the production, sale or transportation of asbestos-containing products. The requirements appear to be very onerous and will impose at tremendous burden, and expense on companies, without any realistic reduction is asbestos inhalation or disease.

Given the current Republican majority in Congress, and that past efforts to ban the use asbestos were not successful, the chances of passage for the READ Act appear to be relatively low. Despite the low likelihood of the Act becoming law, its introduction should serve as reminder to all companies that the issues of regulation, and a potential ban, of asbestos are very much real possibilities.

We follow asbestos-related developments for our clients and stay current in all areas related to that filed. If you have any questions about this or other asbestos issues, please feel free to contact David Governo at dgoverno@governo.com or Brendan Tuohy at btuohy@governo.com.

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