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EPA releases 2005 Arizona Toxics Release Inventory data

Release Date: 03/22/2007
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov

Arizona decreases releases to air and water
(San Francisco, Calif. -- 03/22/2007) – Arizona industries reported a 3 percent decrease in toxic chemicals released into the air and a 7 percent decrease in toxic releases to water from 2004 to 2005, according to new data released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The data comes from the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, an annual measure of toxic chemical releases, transfers and waste generated by facilities in the United States. Total releases include toxic chemicals discharged to air, water, underground injection, land (including landfills), and the amount transferred off-site for disposal. Data provided does not mean that facilities with elevated levels are out of compliance with state, local or federal environmental regulations.

“TRI is an important tool for regulators, emergency responders, businesses and communities because it helps them better understand and be aware of the types and amounts of chemicals being released in their neighborhoods,” said Wayne Nastri, the EPA’s administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. “We are pleased to report a continued downward trend in releases to Arizona’s air and water.”

In Arizona, 334 facilities reported a total of 65.2 million pounds of toxic chemical releases to air, land and water. Overall, Arizona facilities reported a 15 percent increase, nearly 8.6 million pounds – of which 8.5 million pounds came from on-site land releases. Increases in off- and on-site land releases were due primarily to an increase in releases from copper mines.

Data from 2005 in Arizona shows:

Air emissions dropped 3 percent, from 4.3 million pounds in 2004 to 4.2 million pounds in 2005;

    Water releases declined 7 percent, from nearly 7,000 pounds in 2004 to approximately 6,000 pounds in 2005;
      Off-site releases rose 22 percent, from 831,000 pounds in 2004 to just over 1 million pounds in 2005;
        Land releases increased 17 percent, from over 51 million pounds in 2004 to just under 60 million pounds in 2005;
        Many mines extract, move, store, process, and dispose of large amounts of waste rock and ore materials that often contain low concentrations of naturally occurring metals. The vast majority of this material is placed on the land, and the metals are reported as on-site releases to land.

        In 2000, the Toxics Release Inventory expanded to include Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic chemicals, or PBTs, and to require reporting for these chemicals at ranges from 0.1 grams to 100 pounds. PBT pollutants are toxic chemicals that persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in food chains, posing risks to human health and ecosystems.

        In Arizona, 6.7 million pounds of total on-site and off-site releases of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals were reported – a 16 percent increase over 2004. An increase in reported lead and lead compounds drove the increase of these chemicals released in 2005.

        Ninety-five percent of lead releases were land releases from the metal mining and primary metal facilities, where mining facility ASARCO LLC Ray Operations Mine reported a 465,000 pound increase, Phelps Dodge Sierrita Inc., with a 372,000 pound increase, and Phelps Dodge Bagdad Inc., with a 276,000 pound increase.

        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. This program 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.

        The top 10 facilities for total on- and off-site releases for all chemicals in Arizona are:

        1. Phelps Dodge Miami, Inc. (Claypool, Gila County) with 26.7 million pounds.
        2. ASARCO Inc. Ray Complex Hayden Smelter & Concentrator (Hayden, Gila County) with 14 million pounds.
        3. Phelps Dodge Morenci Inc. (Morenci, Greenlee County) with 5.4 million pounds.
        4. Cholla Power Plant (Joseph City, Navajo County) with 3.4 million pounds.
        5. Tucson Electric Power Co. Springerville Generating Station (Springerville, Apache County) with 2.4 million pounds.
        6. Phelps Dodge Sierrita Inc. (Green Valley, Pima County) with 2.3 million pounds.
        7. Phelps Dodge Bagdad Inc. (Bagdad, Yavapai County) with 2.0 million pounds.
        8. Navajo Generating Station (Page, Coconino County) with 1.7 million pounds.
        9. ASARCO LLC Ray Operations Mine (Kearny, Pinal County) with 1.6 million pounds.
        10. ASARCO Inc. Mission Complex (Sahuarita, Pima County) with 1.3 million pounds.
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