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Release Date: 5/11/2000
Contact Information: Randy Wittorp,U.S. EPA,415-744-1589, David Schmidt, U.S. EPA, 415-744-1578

     California and Hawaii make progress in reducing toxic releases

     SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released the 1998 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data, the national community right-to- know update which for the first time reports on seven new industrial categories, including metal and coal mining, electric utilities, commercial hazardous waste treatment, solvent recovery services, petroleum bulk stations and chemical wholesalers.

     The EPA's TRI is an annual measure of toxic chemical releases, transfers, and waste generated by facilities throughout the United States.  Facilities are also required to report on pollution prevention activities and chemical recycling.  Based on the premise that people have a right to know about toxic chemical releases in their neighborhoods, EPA collects industry reports and publishes the data through a range of public information resources.  These reports put information about industrial facilities into the hands of people that live and work nearby.

     "TRI is a powerful tool for people in understanding the sources of toxic releases where they live and work," said Felicia Marcus, EPA's regional director. "People have a right to know what is released into the air, land and water in their neighborhoods."

Chemical releases from the original manufacturing industries decline in California and Hawaii, and increase in Nevada and Arizona

    The manufacturing industries have been reporting their toxic releases since 1987 and federal facilities started reporting in 1995.  These industries range from chemical manufacturers to smelters to paper mills.

     Nationally, the reported data have shown significant decreases in toxic releases over the last two years.  In the Pacific Southwest, the same trend was especially pronounced in California and Hawaii.  "Toxic releases in California and Hawaii have plummeted over the last decade," said Felicia Marcus, EPA's regional administrator.  "These reductions are great news for communities and represent continuing innovation on the part of facilities."  

     In California, reported releases from the manufacturing industries have fallen 75 percent over the last decade with a 22 percent decrease between 1995 and 1998.  In 1998, 1,376 California manufacturers reported 40.4 million pounds of releases.  

     In Hawaii, reported releases from the manufacturing sector fell 64 percent in the last decade with a 34 percent decrease in the last three years.  Fourteen facilities from this sector reported 419,000 pounds of releases in 1998.

     Manufacturing releases have increased in Nevada by seven percent in the last three years and by 56 percent over the last 10 years.  In 1998, 52 facilities reported 4.2 million pounds of releases in Nevada.

     In Arizona, it is difficult to evaluate trends in releases from the manufacturing sector because activities at a single smelter have had a dramatic impact on the total releases.  For example, between 1995 and 1998, releases in Arizona increased by 34 percent.  However, over 85 percent of the total releases from the manufacturing sector are from a single smelter, the Asarco Ray Complex in Hayden.  If that facility were not included in the total, Arizona releases would decrease by 34 percent.

Mining, hazardous waste disposal and electricity generation top the list in the new industries

     The addition of the new industry sectors to the community right-to-know database has expanded public access to toxics data and given communities a tool for improving their health and environment.  In the EPA's pacific southwest region, these new industries now account for most of the releases to the air, water and land.

     "It is important to take a separate look at releases from the six newly added industries," said Marcus.  "Each pound is not necessarily alike.  For example, a chemical released from waste rock is fundamentally different from a release through a smokestack, but each has important environmental consequences to be aware of."

     Of the new industries, mining has the highest level of releases in the southwestern states, largely from metals in waste rock as the mines move large amounts of earth to reach the ore.  The second largest industry is hazardous waste disposal.  Most of the waste from this sector is contained in federally regulated landfills.  The third largest industry is electricity generation from coal and oil burning facilities.  About half these releases were to the air and half to the land.
     In Arizona, 39 newly reporting facilities account for 1.105 billion pounds of toxic releases in 1998.  Over 90 percent of these releases are from thirteen metal mines, which reported one billion pounds of on-site land releases and 585,000 pounds of air emissions.  The second largest new industrial sector, electricity generation, reported 9.5 million pounds of releases.

     In California, 123 newly reporting facilities account for 30.3 million pounds of toxic releases in 1998.  Of the new sectors, hazardous waste disposal and solvent recovery services account for the largest share.  Sixteen facilities reported nearly 20.3 million pounds of releases.  Ninety- seven percent of these releases went to landfills.  Metal mining  was the second largest new industry, with eight facilities reporting 8.8 million pounds of releases.

     In Hawaii, 15 facilities reporting for the first time identified 3.2 million pounds of releases in 1998.  The largest new sector is electricity generation. Ten electricity generators reported 3.1 million pounds of releases.  Nearly all of these releases were to air.  The second largest sector is petroleum bulk terminals.  Five petroleum bulk terminals reported 56,000 pounds of releases, all to the air.

     In Nevada, 43 newly reporting facilities identified 1.268 billion pounds of releases.   The largest sector is metal mining with 36 mines reporting 1.26 billion pounds, nearly all to the land.  Electricity generation is the second most significant new industry.  The four electric generating facilities in the state reported releases totaling 2.9 million pounds.

     Fact sheets and additional information on 1998 TRI data for Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada will be available today on the Web at .  Hard copies are available at EPA's public information center by calling 415-744-1500.