Section 7. There shall be the office of technical assistance and technology within the executive office of environmental affairs. The office shall have a director and appropriate staff to carry out its responsibilities and programs. These responsibilities and programs shall include, but not be limited to, the following:-
(A) The office shall provide technical assistance to persons to assist them in implementing effective toxics use reduction and other pollution prevention or resource conservation activities, and in complying with the requirements of this chapter and other applicable environmental and health and safety laws. The office shall prioritize the assistance for persons who have been referred to the office by the department, the office of the attorney general or other state agencies, first-time filers, and reporting toxics users. The office shall establish a process for acquiring information on the implementation of recommendations from persons that receive assistance reports from the office.
(B) The office shall utilize its expertise in source reduction and knowledge of industrial sectors to assist the department in implementing pollution prevention, resource conservation and toxics use reduction as the preferred means of achieving compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
(C) The office shall promote and disseminate information concerning toxics use reduction technologies, environmental management systems and other toxics use reduction, pollution prevention and resource conservation practices. In order to assist in this, the office shall compile technical documents, guidance and case studies that utilize the results of its technical assistance efforts as described in paragraph (A).
(D) The office shall promote research or pilot projects to develop and demonstrate innovative technologies for toxics use reduction, pollution prevention or resource conservation. The office shall negotiate with project partners to establish or maintain public rights to information about the development, to the extent appropriate and feasible.
(E) The office shall engage in an outreach program to small businesses that are toxics users required to report and plan pursuant to this chapter, and shall assist first-time filers with reporting requirements and trade secret submissions. The office may, with the assistance of the department and the institute, conduct training and workshop for toxics users to assist them in meeting their requirements under this chapter.
(F) The office may work with public health agents, POTW operators, local emergency planning committees, and other officials to assist them with reducing the potential risk of substances hazards posed from filers or from manufacturing facilities located within their jurisdictions. The office may prioritize referrals from local authorities, train local inspectors to increase their awareness and understanding of toxics use reduction and resource conservation and pursue other collaboration as appropriate.
(G) The office may develop a business and community recognition program to promote the toxics use reduction achievements of Massachusetts industry.
(H) Any information or record, in document or electronic format, received by the office in the course of providing technical assistance to a toxics user shall be kept confidential and not considered to be a public record pursuant to section 10 of chapter 66, unless: (i) the toxics user agrees in writing that such information may be made available to the department; or (ii) the office determines at its discretion, the information pertains to an imminent threat to public health or safety, or to the environment; or (iii) disclosure to the department is required by law.
(I) The office may, to the extent that it furthers the commonwealth’s interest in disseminating information about toxics use reduction, pollution prevention, or resource conservation, make general or generic information available to the public, even if it is derived from 1 toxics user, when it is determined by the office that the information or records are not related to secret processes, methods of manufacture, or production, or that the information or record would not divulge a trade secret.
(J) The office may establish fees, tuition, or other financial charges for its programs, in accordance with section 4B of chapter 7 and may receive additional funds from grants, gifts, bequests or other contributions or through contracts, which shall be deposited in the funds created in section 2J of chapter 29 for use by the office without further appropriation. The office shall not charge a fee for any on-site technical assistance activity or service provided to the business community.