Toxic Chemical Report Shows Reduction in Industrial Releases

On Feb. 21, EPA released its 2006 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to provide information on toxic chemicals used and released by utilities, refineries, chemical manufacturers, paper companies and other facilities. The data shows that nationwide, chemical releases into the environment were down 2 percent from 2005.

The 2006 TRI data shows that facilities in the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., released a total of 382.1 million pounds of chemicals both on and off site in 2006, a .03 percent decrease from the 383.3 million pounds released in 2005. When compared with the 464.7 million pounds released in 2000, the 2006 figures represent a 17.8 percent reduction in toxic pollutants released by facilities in the region. Process modifications, raw material substitution and pollution control equipment contributed to this decrease.

On a national level, total releases from 2001 to 2006 decreased by 24 percent. The TRI data includes releases and other wastes from more than 650 chemicals and chemical compounds that were released at companies’ facilities as well as those transported to off-site disposal facilities.

This year marks EPA’s earliest release of the TRI data in the program’s 20-year history. Increased electronic reporting and improvements in data processing and analysis continue to make earlier announcements possible.

“This valuable information provides community residents with a snapshot of facilities in their neighborhoods,” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA mid-Atlantic regional administrator. “It has also been credited with encouraging facilities to reduce their releases of toxic chemicals into the environment through source reduction or pollution prevention measures.”

Reporting data to the TRI is required under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), which passed in 1986. The TRI provides the amount, location and type of releases to the environment, whether a pollutant is emitted into the air, discharged into the water or released onto the land. It also includes information on waste shipped off site for disposal or further treatment.

TRI information is accessible online to the public at http://www.epa.gov/triexplorer. For information on a specific facility, go to http://www.epa.gov/enviro/html/tris/tris_query.html.

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