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Toxics Release Inventory Shows Progress in New York

Release Date: 03/19/2009
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664,

(New York, N.Y.) What if you wanted to know how many pounds of toxic air pollutants were being generated by your local power plant? Or how many pounds of toxic chemicals were being released by a factory near your child’s school? The latest Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report issued today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can help answer these questions. It finds a decrease in releases to the air and water in New York. EPA’s database provides the most recent information available about the amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment of New York by permitted industrial and other facilities. Since 1988, TRI data has been released to the public annually to help people learn more about the chemicals present in their local environment and gauge environmental trends over time.

“Overall TRI trends show that companies have significantly reduced the amount of toxic chemicals they're using and releasing over the last decade,” said George Pavlou, Acting EPA Regional Administrator. “By issuing TRI data, EPA is empowering the public. People become aware of what is happening in their own back yards, businesses become more sensitive about how much they use and release into the environment, and governments get to know where to focus their local efforts.”

The latest TRI report, which displays calendar year 2007 data gathered by EPA, shows a decrease in total on site releases to the air, water and land of 4% in N.Y., including a 21% decrease in releases to the Empire State’s waters. New York also showed an 11% decrease for air stack emissions principally due to reductions reported by Eastman Kodak in Rochester and IBM in Hopewell Junction. Conversely, a Governeur, New York zinc mining operation, the Saint Lawrence Zinc Corporation of America, which re-started operation in 2006 accounted for 47% of the releases of persistent, bioaccumulative toxics in the state, mainly from mining byproducts. AES Greenidge, in Dresden N.Y., had the largest reduction among the electric utilities reporting (600,000 pounds). It has indicated that the U.S. Department of Energy provided funding for new technologies to burn coal more cleanly to reduce NOx, SO2, mercury and acidic gases.

TRI is the most comprehensive inventory of information about chemicals released into the environment reported annually by certain industries and federal facilities. These facilities are permitted under strict federal regulations and required to install and maintain pollution controls. On a national level, over 21,000 facilities reported on approximately 650 chemicals for calendar year 2007. TRI allows the public to see which facilities are increasing and decreasing their output of toxic chemicals and compounds, so that stakeholders are well informed about chemicals released into their communities, and industries can gauge their progress in reducing pollution. Thanks to improvements in EPA’s system, the vast majority of facilities now report data electronically and detailed information about specific facilities is more readily accessible to the public.

Today's data is released according to the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986 and its amendments, as well as the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, and it includes toxics released at company facilities and those transported to disposal facilities off site. All manufacturing companies, as well as coal and oil fired power plants, that produce or use above the threshold limit for any chemical are required to participate. The data are collected from industries that are in the following sectors: manufacturing, metal and coal mining, electric utilities, commercial hazardous waste treatment, chemical distributors, solvent recyclers and petroleum bulk storage as well as federal facilities.

TRI provides the amount, location and type of release to the environment -- whether a pollutant is emitted into the air, discharged into the water, or released onto the land. Additionally, TRI has been credited with providing communities with vital local knowledge and encouraging facilities to reduce their releases of toxic chemicals into the environment through source reduction or pollution prevention measures.

For more TRI information, visit:
To view an area fact sheet, visit: