- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
The EPA on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009, released its 2008 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data, which provides information submitted by regulated entities on toxic chemicals used and released by utilities, refineries, chemical manufacturers, paper companies, and many other facilities across the nation.
This is the first time the agency has released its annual analysis in the same calendar year as the data were reported. In August, the agency released to the public the raw TRI data prior to EPA analysis for the first time.
The analysis also showed a 5 percent decline in the number of facilities reporting to TRI from the previous year, continuing a trend from the past few years. Some of this decline may be attributed to the economic downturn; however, the EPA said it plans to investigate why some facilities reported in 2007 but not 2008.
The analysis, which includes data on 650 chemicals from more than 21,000 facilities, found that total releases to air decreased 14 percent, while releases to surface water increased 3 percent. This increase is partially attributed to a coal ash spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority facility in Kingston, Tenn. Releases to land remain virtually unchanged from 2007, showing a 0.1 percent increase.
The report showed decreases in the releases of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals including lead, dioxin and mercury. Total disposal or other releases of mercury decreased 11 percent. Dioxin releases or disposal decreased 77 percent, while lead releases decreased by 2 percent. Releases of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) increased 121 percent. Because PCBs are no longer used in U.S. manufacturing, these releases represent the removal of PCBs from service for disposal at regulated hazardous waste facilities.
Earlier this year, the agency restored more comprehensive TRI reporting requirements that were in effect before Dec. 21, 2006. The EPA noted in a press release that it has begun a review of its TRI program to identify areas for improvement.