- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Maybe the EPA should have tackled this topic a little differently and instead of using the work release, they could have used materials. Then it would have been a Toxic Material Inventory.
Let me use a real world example. I worked for a company that used acid ponds to process large volumes of their product to neutralize its lime content. The ponds were lined with impervious materials but the company was able to find another way to accomplish the task and no longer needed the ponds. The liquid was removed and treated. The liners were excavated and properly documented and sent to a hazardous landfill. Everything was done correctly. The next year, the company completed a TRI report to the EPA. Sometime later the agency published the national report, which is open and available to the public.
The local newspapers pulled data from the TRI reports and told the public that company had been the largest polluter in the state as it had released tons of toxic chemicals to the environment.
Needless to say, the company executives were not happy and wanted to know what chemicals we had mishandled. When my department read the story and where the paper had gathered its information, the explanation was clear. That the paper had misunderstood the intent of the TRI report was not relevant. We explained it to the reporter and his bosses. However, they refused to print an explanation or a retraction, which left a very bad impression. The paper would not even allow us to send a letter to the editor for publication.
On a couple of occasions, I have brought this up to the EPA over the years. They said that is not the intended purpose of the report and they have no control over its misuse. There was no problem according to the agency. However, in discussions with colleagues at various conferences, we were not the only such victims.
In 2006, the agency changed some of the reporting requirements, lessening its deleterious impacts. However, there are still come organizations that intent to push for this requirement to be reinstated and have launched a petition drive. While I think the information could have good uses, I think some of the definitions really need to be changed and the data should not be allowed to be misused. For those wanting to join the petition drive, go to http://community.ombwatch.org/site/PageNavigator/OMB/TRI_SignOn