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EPA Announces Annual Toxics Release Report

Release Date: 5/11/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6447,

Release Date: 5/11/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6026,

Release Date: 5/11/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6603

      Denver -- The Environmental Protection Agency today issued its annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). This report details how much toxic chemical pollution is released into the air, discharged into water, placed underground or on the land and disposed of as waste by facilities across the country.

The TRI is based on yearly reports submitted to EPA and state agencies by companies and federal facilities within the industrial and manufacturing sectors. It serves as a monitor of toxic chemicals released at a company’s location (on-site), treated, recycled or transferred elsewhere (off-site), along with pollution-prevention methods used. Included is a ranking of U.S. states based on the amount of chemicals released into the environment within their borders. The annual report, required under the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, allows EPA, state governments, businesses and the public to gauge industry’s progress toward reducing toxic chemical pollution.

Beginning in 1998 (the most recent reporting year) the contents and scope of TRI has expanded from previous years. Seven more industrial sectors were added to the list and companies within those sectors must now report on their annual toxic releases. The seven new types of industries are: metal and coal mines, electric utilities, chemical distributors, petroleum bulk storage facilities, hazardous waste sites, and toxic solvent recovery facilities. Before 1998, only manufacturing industries and Federal facilities were required to report under TRI.

The expansion had a major impact on the TRI, with the new industries accounting for 67 percent of the total on- and off-site releases nationwide in 1998. The 1998 TRI revealed total (both on-site and off-site) chemical releases of 7.3 billion pounds nationwide, compared to 2.6 billion pounds in 1997. The releases reported by companies in the seven new sectors account for the difference.

Nationally, manufacturers and federal facilities (the “original industries”) actually declined in total releases, from 2.6 billion pounds in 1997 to 2.4 billion pounds in 1998. The newly included industries reportedly released 4.9 billion pounds of toxic chemicals in 1998.

* New industry total releases in 1998 4.9 billion pounds
* Original industry total releases in 1998 2.4 billion pounds
* Total U.S. releases in 1998 7.3 billion pounds

In EPA’s Region 8 (CO, MT, ND, SD, UT and WY) the metal mining and electric utilities accounted for 79 percent of the total on- and off-site releases of 796,478,956 pounds in 1998. Region-wide, releases from metal mines totaled 549,277,791 pounds, while electric utilities contributed 62,106,686 pounds. The following table summarizes on-site releases of toxic chemicals by state for the original industries (manufacturing and federal facilities) and the industry sectors reporting for the first time.
On-Site Releases By State (In Pounds)
Manufacturing & Federal New Industries Reporting
Facilities (Original Industries) For The First Time

Colorado 4,046,360 21,092,244
Montana 46,531,157 76,229,899
North Dakota 2,301,759 9,630,257
South Dakota 3,136,308 18,962,496
Utah 98,488,814 474,524,093
Wyoming 9,412,637 12,174,782

Federal and state environmental laws allow industries to release limited amounts of pollutants into the air, water or land. As knowledge and science improves, the agencies may choose to tighten those limits. EPA uses the TRI to ensure that health and environmental standards are maintained and releases are within permitted levels. The report also provides the public with information to help make community-based decisions to reduce health risks posed by certain industrial processes.

“The public has a right to know what pollutants are in their communities,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Jack McGraw. “The TRI report provides individuals and communities with the means to make informed decisions about acceptable industrial pollution levels. It’s also a strong incentive for businesses to find innovative ways to prevent pollution.”

“Many businesses in our region are working to reduce or eliminate chemical pollution near residential communities,” McGraw observed. “Yet, as the 1998 TRI report shows, we still have a ways to go.”

1998 TRI figures for states within Region 8 revealed:

* Colorado facilities reported 25,138,604 pounds of toxic chemicals released on-site, of which 84 percent came from new industries reporting for the first time. The previously covered manufacturers and federal facilities reported 4,046,360 pounds of chemicals released on site during 1998, down 10 percent from the 4,507,112 pounds of on-site releases for 1997. Colorado ranked 43rd nationally in on-site releases by the “original industries,” as it did in 1997.

* Montana fell from 18th to 19th nationwide in the amount of toxic chemicals released on site by manufacturers. The new industries accounted for 62 percent of total on-site releases for the State in 1998. Total on-site releases in 1998 were 122,761,056 pounds, with 56 percent of that from metal mining facilities, reporting for the first time in 1998. The original industries released 46,531,157 pounds of chemicals in 1998, up 10 percent from 1997 releases of 42,131,345 pounds.

* North Dakota facilities reported 11,932,016 pounds of toxic chemicals released on site during 1998, with 81 percent from the new industries. Essentially all (99 percent) of the new industry on-site releases of 9,630,257 pounds came from electric utilities. The state ranked 46th nationwide in on-site releases by the original industries (manufacturing and Federal facilities), up from 48th in 1997. On-site releases by the original industries of 2,301,759 pounds in 1998 were down slightly from the 1997 level of 2,389,140 pounds.

* South Dakota ranked 44th nationwide in the amount of toxic chemicals released on site by the original industries in 1998, up from 45th in 1997. Total releases of toxic chemicals by all facilities in 1998 were 22,098,804 pounds, with the new industries accounting for 86 percent of the total. Metal mining facilities reporting for the first time, accounted for 90 percent of the releases by the new industries. On-site releases by the original facilities in 1998 were 3,136,308 pounds, down a substantial 24 percent from the 1997 level of 4,094,744 pounds.

* Utah facilities reported 573,012,907 pounds of toxic chemicals released on site during 1998, with 83 percent of the total from facilities reporting for the first time. On-site releases by manufacturing and federal facilities totaled 98,488,814 pounds in 1998, an increase of 5 percent over 1997 releases of 93,926,091 pounds. Utah ranked 4th in 1998 based on these releases, up from its 6th ranking of 1997. The facilities releasing the largest amounts of toxic chemicals into the environment nationwide in both the original and new industry sectors are located in Utah.

* Wyoming had total on-site releases of toxic chemicals in 1998 of 21,587,419 pounds. The new industries accounted for 56 percent. This state continued to rank 36th nationwide in total on-site releases by the original manufacturing and federal facilities, with the 1998 total of 9,412,637 pounds compared with a slightly lower 9,349,356 pounds in 1997. The new industries facilities released 12,174,782 pounds of toxic chemicals on site during 1998, with all of these releases coming from electric utilities and coal mines.

In April, 1997, EPA Administrator Carol Browner signed the rule that expanded industry reporting under the community right-to-know program. The rule increased by about 30 percent the number of industrial facilities required to make public the levels of toxic chemicals they release into the air, water and land in communities across the country. The new rule added about 2,000 new facilities from the seven industrial sectors. With the new sectors, more than 23,000 facilities nationally now provide details on their environmental releases.

The TRI is available in several formats. Many public libraries have the data release. Individuals also can purchase it on CD-ROM or computer diskettes, or access it on-line at either: or . For data-use assistance, call 202/260-1531 or fax a request to 202/401-2347. EPA also maintains a national technical hotline (800/535-0202) to help individuals and businesses understand TRI and the reporting requirements.