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EPA RELEASES NATIONAL TOXIC POLLUTION DATA: NEW REPORT REVEALS DIOXIN AND MERCURY POLLUTION
Fair Use Statement

<-- Return To Right to Know or Left to Wonder?

Source: RTK Net.

Press Release

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Contact: Paul Orum, 202-544-9586
Working Group on Community Right-to-Know

EPA RELEASES NATIONAL TOXIC POLLUTION DATA

NEW REPORT REVEALS DIOXIN AND MERCURY POLLUTION

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released new national information on industrial sources of toxic pollution. The data include for the first time dioxin and large amounts of mercury and other highly toxic chemicals.

Under the Toxics Release Inventory program, more than 23,000 factories, refineries, mines, power plants, and chemical manufacturers self-report to EPA emissions of toxic pollution to air, water, and land.

On- and off-site releases for all TRI industries totaled 7.10 billion pounds for 2000. These industries reported creating 37.89 billion pounds of production related waste, which they partially treated or disposed.

Environmental groups said the new pollution data show the continued need for public health protections, and criticized the Bush Administration for weakening pollution laws.

Production related waste increased by 8.39 billion pounds between 1998 and 2000, or some 28.6 percent. The portion of these production wastes released to the environment decreased by 409 million pounds, or 5.5 percent, over the same period.

The data show that American industries continue to produce more and more toxic waste that is treated, burned, or disposed in somebody’s backyard.

The top five states for toxic releases from manufacturing industries are: Texas 245,761,545 pounds, Pennsylvania 139,337,978 pounds, Ohio 137,075,843 pounds, Louisiana 135,215,670 pounds, Indiana 134,272,453 pounds.

The top five states for toxic releases from non-manufacturing industries such as mines and power plants are: Nevada 1,003,811,775 pounds, Utah 849,800,537 pounds, Arizona 705,336,645 pounds, Alaska 533,512,830 pounds and Ohio 145,944,153 pounds.

States reporting more than a billion pounds for production related waste from all covered industries are: Louisiana 9.41 billion pounds; Texas 4.58 billion pounds; Alabama 2.89 billion pounds; Illinois 1.62 billion pounds; Nevada 1.29 billion pounds; Pennsylvania 1.26 billion pounds; Utah 1.23 billion pounds; Ohio 1.11 billion pounds; and Indiana 1.02 billion pounds. Manufacturing industries generated some 84 percent of production waste.

Today’s report reflects new reporting for some highly toxic chemicals that persist in the environment. Total on- and off-site releases of these long-lasting chemicals include: dioxin 220 pounds; mercury 4,316,662 pounds; polycyclic aromatics 5,402,975 pounds; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) 1,460,916 pounds, eight highly persistent pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, heptachlor, isodrin, methoxychlor, pendimethalin, toxaphene, and trifluralin) 82,443 pounds, and 838,914 pounds of four other persistent toxic chemicals.

These new data should help people understand the link between factories that produce PVC plastic and even larger dioxin emissions that result from burning these products in backyards, garbage incinerators, and medical waste incinerators. Most such incinerators are exempt from TRI.

Dioxin and other long lasting chemicals build up in the food chain through fish, birds, and other life, some of which we eat for dinner. The Bush Administration should release the long-stalled scientific assessment of dioxin and our health.

The reports show large releases to air of mercury and polycyclic aromatic compounds from electric utilities that burn oil or coal. The Bush Administration’s “Clear Skies” initiative would allow power plants to release up to three times more mercury than under the current Clean Air Act rules.

The reports also show large releases to land of mercury and other chemicals from mining. Crushed rocks in mining wastes are typically heaped in piles or impoundments. Water can leach toxic chemicals from these piles more easily than before the rocks were mined. The Bush Administration recently proposed to allow mines to dump more waste rock into streams.

Industries released over a million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the environment, even though PCBs have been banned from electrical transformers and other uses. Much of this PCB waste went into hazardous waste landfills.

EPA plans to make TRI data available from www.epa.gov/tri. The non-profit group OMB Watch will make the data available soon from www.rtknet.org.

The Working Group on Community Right-to-Know serves a nationwide network of public interest organization concerned with our right-to-know about toxic pollution and chemical hazards.

-- 30 --

===== Working Group on Community Right-to-Know
218 D Street, SE; Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-544-9586; Fax: 202-546-2461

<-- Return To Right to Know or Left to Wonder?

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