- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Issued the same month it was collected, the EPA has published the latest data on industrial releases and transfers of toxic chemicals in the United States between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2009. This year, the agency made TRI data available within weeks of the reporting deadline through its website and online tools TRI Explorer and Envirofacts. The database contains environmental release and transfer data on nearly 650 chemicals and chemical categories reported to the agency by more than 21,000 industrial and other facilities.
"It is vital that every community has access to information that impacts their health and environment," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. "The data we're releasing provides critical insights about pollution and polluters in the places where people live, work, play and learn. Making that knowledge available is the first step in empowering communities to protect the environment in their areas."
Because the initial TRI data are not final, concern has been growing among industry since the early reporting began under Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. Without a proper baseline, the public may misinterpret the data and risk unfair judgment of the companies; a negative press release is hard to walk back. The EPA explained in its Federal Register notice that it took this into account, but that significant changes between initial TRI data and the final report have been miniscule, and that the benefits of early warning to the public outweigh concerns of misinformation.
The preliminary dataset allows communities to find out about releases and transfers of chemicals at the local level. Examples of industries that report to TRI include manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste treatment facilities among others. Facilities must report their data by July 1 of each year.
The preliminary dataset includes more than 80 percent of the data expected to be reported for 2009. The EPA will continue to process paper submissions, late submissions, and to resolve issues with the electronic submissions. The agency will update the dataset in August and again in September so citizens will have complete access to the information. The EPA said it encourages the public to review and analyze the data while the agency conducts its own analysis, which will be published later this year.
More information on the data: www.epa.gov/tri
SOURCE: EPA press release