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Release Date: 05/13/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042) Dwight Peavey, EPA TRI Coordinator (617-918-1829) Jim Phillips, EPA TRI Data Analyst (617-918-1832)

BOSTON - Manufacturers in Rhode Island reduced the amount of toxic pollutants released into the air, land and water by 36 percent between 1995 and 1997, according to data issued today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The reduction in the amount of pollution going into Rhode Island's environment far outpaces the 1 percent reduction in environmental releases recorded nationally during the same two years, according to EPA's New England Office. From 1995 to 1997, the most recent year for which numbers are available, New England as a whole reported a 20 percent reduction in environmental releases.

Nearly half of the reduction in emissions in Rhode Island can be attributed to cutbacks in production at Quebecor Printing in Providence, which has since closed entirely. Large reductions were also realized by Coats American of Bristol, a thread manufacturer that was forced by the state to make improvements to its air pollution control equipment after it was charged with violating state environmental laws.

"Although the closing of a business added to the reduction in emissions in Rhode Island, the state's industries continued to show progress towards operating cleaner, safer industries," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator. "The continued reductions in pollution emissions in Rhode Island and New England indicate that those of us who live in this region can look forward to cleaner environment in the future."

Jan Reitsma, director of the Rhode Department of Environmental Management, noted that almost 159,000 pounds of the total reduction in emissions in Rhode was attributed to one company that installed air pollution control equipment as a result of an enforcement action. "Enforcement action is sometimes necessary to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals," Reitsma said. "However, it is important to emphasize that the same benefits can be gained by working cooperatively with businesses through our pollution prevention programs."

Beginning in 1995, manufacturers were required to send pollutant information to EPA's Toxics Release Inventory for 650 toxic chemicals and chemical categories of toxics that were both released on the company's property and transported to disposal facilities off site. A review of the most recent data shows that Rhode Island industries have reduced their on- and off-site pollution from 3,380,617 pounds in 1995 to just 2,178,884 pounds in 1997, the last year for which data is available.

Since 1988, companies have been required to report the release of 320 chemicals at the site of the company. Based on these reporting requirements, Rhode Island's manufacturers reduced the amount of toxics released into the air, water and land by 74.7 percent between 1988 and 1997, which compares to a 49.2 reduction nationally.

The following is a list of Rhode Island's five largest on-site emitters of toxic chemicals. It is important to note that these chemical emissions are reported to EPA under the TRI and do not reflect illegal discharges of pollutants to the environment.

Quebecor PrintingProvidence 446,058
Kenyon Industries Inc.Kenyon246,024
Rexam D.S.I. Johnston 150,332
Osram Sylvania Inc.Central Falls 108,917
Arkwright Inc.Fiskeville 81,350

The 1997 TRI data also shows that of Rhode Island's 37.2 million pounds of toxic wastes, 26.2 million pounds (70 percent) were recycled, 1 million pounds (3 percent) were used for energy recovery, 8 million pounds (22 percent) were treated before disposal and 2 million pounds (5 percent) were released at on- or off-site locations.

"The size and scope of our assistance and pollution prevention programs are paying off," DeVillars said. "We are seeing the results in cleaner industries and a healthier environment."

The reporting of data to the Toxics Release Inventory is required under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, passed in 1986. The TRI provides the amount, location and type of release 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. The TRI has been credited with arming communities with valuable knowledge and encouraging facilities to reduce their releases of toxic chemicals into the environment through source reduction, or pollution prevention, measures.

TRI information is easily accessible to the news media and to the public. Information is available on-line, HTTP://WWW.EPA.GOV/OPPTINTR/TRI, in hard copy and in a variety of computer formats, including CD-ROM. For copies or more information, the public is encouraged to call EPA's toll-free Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Information Hotline at 1(800) 424-9346.