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EPA Releases Most Recent Community Right-to-Know Data on Toxic Releases

Release Date: 05/13/99
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EPA Releases Most Recent Community Right-to-Know Data on Toxic Releases

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the most recent Community-Right-to-Know information under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), representing nearly a decade of reporting to the public on industrial releases of toxic chemicals into the environment. This latest report includes the data from 1997.

The data show that since 1988, when reporting began, total releases decreased by almost 43 percent. In 1997, toxic air emissions continued to decline. Also in 1997, overall releases were up slightly for the first time with an increase of 2.2 percent. This slight increase is largely due to a shift by a number of facilities that did not send metal wastes to recycling facilities, but used other disposal methods, like landfills, because of cost fluctuations in the recycling market. The analysis also indicates that due to subsequent changes in the price structure between recycling and other waste management options, there may be a shift back to recycling of these metals during the 1998 and 1999 reporting years.

EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner said, “The Clinton Administration has worked hard to expand the public’s right to know about toxic chemicals released into local communities. Putting this information into the hands of citizens is one of the most powerful tools available for reducing pollution. Over the last 10 years, pollution has been reduced by almost 43 percent, and we believe it will continue to decline in the long term.”

Next year, due to a Presidential directive, release data from seven new industrial sectors will be announced for the first time. With the addition of these industry sectors, the number of facilities reporting under the TRI program will increase by about 30 percent, from 21,000 to 28,000. By adding 286 chemicals and chemical categories to the TRI list in the 1995 chemical expansion and through other previous actions, the Administration has nearly doubled the number of chemicals reported under TRI from 328 to the current 644 listed today.

EPA’s TRI program requires companies to publicly report quantities of toxic chemicals that their manufacturing facilities annually release into the air, water and land. The public has access to data about individual facilities in their community through a range of public information resources, including the Internet. The data also allow the public, the states, industry and EPA to gauge facilities’ progress in reducing toxic chemical pollution.

In 1997, air pollution accounted for 51.7 percent of total releases, which represented a decrease of 127 million pounds from 1996. Releases to surface water accounted for 8.8 percent of all releases, an increase of 41 million pounds from the previous year. Releases to land, which accounted for 30.5 percent of all releases, rose by 123 million pounds during that period, which accounted for most of the 2.2 percent increase in overall releases in 1997.

In addition to efforts to expand right-to-know programs, EPA is also taking steps to speed the release of the TRI data in the future, including working toward releasing the information in the same year it is submitted.

The 1997 TRI Public Data Release Report and other information on TRI are available at: To obtain copies of the report call the National Service Center for Environmental Publications at 1-800-490-9198.

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