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PR EPA EXPANDS COMMUNITY RIGHT-TO-KNOW EFFORTS TO INCLUDE ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE OF FACILITIES IN FIVE INDUSTRY SECTORS
Release Date: 05/01/98
FOR RELEASE: MAY 1, 1998
EPA EXPANDS COMMUNITY RIGHT-TO-KNOW EFFORTS TO INCLUDE ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE OF FACILITIES IN FIVE INDUSTRY SECTORS
As part of the Clinton Administration’s efforts to expand the public’s right to know, EPA today announced the Sector Facility Indexing Project, a pilot program that will provide for the first time comprehensive information through the Internet on the environmental performance of hundreds of facilities in five major industries. These data were subject to a thorough quality review to assure accuracy that included extensive comments by industries and states, the primary source of this information.
“Today’s action is part of the Clinton Administration’s commitment to expand the public’s right to know,” said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. “Putting high-quality environmental information into the hands of citizens is one of the most powerful tools for protecting public health and the environment in our communities. The information in this pilot program comes largely from industrial and state sources and has been subject to a rigorous quality-assurance process.”
The industrial sectors covered include: automobile assembly, pulp manufacturing, petroleum refining, iron and steel production, and the primary smelting and refining of aluminum, copper, lead and zinc (nonferrous metals).
The new database covers 653 facilities within the five sectors, and for the first time collects in one place information that the facilities must provide under a number of federal environmental statutes. The data include information on past inspections and enforcement actions, the size of the facilities and their annual releases of chemicals into the environment. Demographic data about communities near the facilities are also included.
The database has multiple uses. Facilities can benchmark their data against those of other similar facilities, or simply monitor their own regulatory performance. Environmental and community groups now have easier access to information that they can use to learn about the environmental performance of individual facilities. Government agencies can use the information as a planning tool.
Stakeholders, including environmental and community organizations, have commented on the project. Each facility included in the pilot project received a copy of its records and was given an opportunity to submit corrections. State agencies also received the information for review, since a large portion of the data is provided to EPA by state governments. EPA modified the data as appropriate, based on these comments. EPA will continue taking comments as this pilot project evolves.
The data are available at Internet address: https://www.epa.gov/oeca/sfi
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SECTOR FACILITY INDEXING PROJECT BRIEFING
CAROL M. BROWNER
U.S. EPA ADMINISTRATOR
I wanted to stop by for a moment to underscore the importance of this announcement. I am here with Sylvia Lowrance and Chuck Fox who will be available to answer any questions you may have. Today, we take another significant step forward to extend the public's right to know.
Today EPA is making available, for the first time ever, access to comprehensive information about the environmental performance of hundreds of industrial facilities. For each facility included, all of the information already required under the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, inspections, violations, enforcement actions and toxic releases will now be available in one place. Citizens across the country, through the internet, will be able to access this information and learn more about the facilities in their communities.
This project is part of the Clinton Administration's on-going efforts to expand the public's right to know about environmental pollution in their hometowns. We believe that providing the public with basic environmental information about their communities is one of the most powerful tools available for protecting public health and the environment. This information now is as easy to obtain as connecting to the internet. Here at EPA we already have seen an explosion in the public's demand for information. Public access to existing websties that now averages over a million "hits" or "visits" per day. Hundreds of thousands of people each and every day are exercising their right-to-know.
The pilot program we announce today -- called the Sector Facility Indexing Project -- includes comprehensive information on over 600 facilities in five industrial sectors. Those sectors
are: auto assembly, pulp manufacturing, petroleum refining, iron and steel production, and primary smelting. These data include information on inspections and enforcement actions, the annual releases of toxic chemicals into the environment, and even demographic information about the communities that are adjacent to these facilities. Citizens can use these data to monitor the environmental performance of facilities and compare how their local facility stacks up against other facilities across the country.
Most of these data were supplied by states and industries pursuant to existing federal statutes. EPA, states and industries then engaged in an extensive quality review of the data to verify accuracy. EPA's commitment in this new Age of Information is not only to make environmental data widely available to the public, but also to make sure that such information is of the highest possible quality.
This Administration remains committed to putting as much environmental information as possible about communities across this nation into the hands of our citizens. Giving citizens the facts can only mean greater protection for the health and environment of our communities, ourselves, and our children.