In a major expansion of the Clinton/Gore Administration’s on-going commitment to serve the public’s right to know about toxic pollution released into local communities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today is making public for the first time toxic emissions figures for seven major industrial sectors.
As a result of the inclusion of these seven new sectors, together with the manufacturing industry, the total toxic emissions reported in the United States is 7.3 billion pounds — almost triple the number reported previously. The newly included sectors are electric utilities, coal mining, metal mining, chemical wholesalers, petroleum bulk plants and terminals, solvent recovery and hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal. These are in addition to the manufacturing sector, which has been monitored in previous years. The new total toxic emissions number of 7.3 billion pounds will serve as the "baseline" for evaluating future trends of toxic releases. The data announced today are from the most recent reporting year, 1998.
Vice President Al Gore said, "Putting basic information about toxic releases into the hands of citizens is one of the most powerful tools available for protecting public health and the environment in local communities. That is why this Administration has dramatically expanded the public’s access to this vital information. Citizens now have more information than ever at their fingertips to help protect their communities, their health and their children’s health."
Among the new industries reporting, metal mining generated 3.5 billion pounds in total emissions; electric utilities, 1.1 billion pounds; hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities together with solvent recovery facilities, 281.8 million pounds; coal mining, 13.3 million pounds; petroleum bulk plants and terminals, 4.7 million pounds; and chemical wholesalers 1.6 million pounds.
The 1998 TRI shows a 45 percent decrease — 1.5 billion pounds — among manufacturing industries monitored over 11 years (1988-98). Compared to the last TRI report, the one for 1997, releases from those manufacturing industries declined by 90 million pounds; releases to air were down by six percent and releases to land were also down slightly, by 0.2 percent. Releases to water increased a small degree, but less than the year before. EPA regards this as part of a "blip" and expects water releases to decline in the future.
Of the eight categories now reporting — the seven new industrial sectors and the original manufacturing sector — metal mining accounted for the largest amount of total emissions with 48 percent. Second was manufacturing, which accounts for 33 percent of total emissions; electric utilities account for 15 percent, solvent recovery and hazardous waste disposal facilities combined account for 4 percent; and the others amounted to less than 1 percent each.
The new data for the seven industrial sectors being announced today are the result of a directive signed by President Clinton in 1997. The Clinton-Gore Administration already had expanded the number of facilities reporting by 30 percent. With this latest addition, the number of facilities reporting under the Community-Right-To-Know program has increased by another nine percent, from 21,000 to 23,000. In 1995, the Administration nearly doubled the number of chemicals reported on from 328 to the current 644 listed today.
EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory program requires companies to report publicly quantities of toxic chemicals that their facilities annually release into the air, water and land.
The 1998 Toxic Release Inventory data and background information on the TRI program are available at: http://www.epa.gov/tri.
In a further example of the Administration’s efforts to increase access to TRI data, a new research tool, TRI EXPLORER, is available on a link from the web page. It provides county-by-county assessments of the data. The public also can sort the data by facility, chemical, geographic areas, or industry, and at the state or national level. The availability of these data make it possible to gauge a facility’s progress in reducing toxic chemical pollution.