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EPA Issues Annual Toxic Chemical Release Report

Release Date: 4/12/2001
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6447,

Release Date: 4/12/2001
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6026,

Release Date: 4/12/2001
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6603

      Denver -- The Environmental Protection Agency today issued its annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 1999. This report details how much toxic chemical pollution is released into the air, discharged into water, placed underground or on the land and disposed of as waste by facilities across the country.

The TRI is based on yearly reports submitted to EPA and state agencies by companies and federal facilities within the industrial and manufacturing sectors. It serves as a monitor of toxic chemicals released at a company’s location (on-site), treated, recycled or transferred elsewhere (off-site), along with pollution-prevention methods used. Included is a ranking of U.S. states based on the amount of chemicals released into the environment within their borders. The annual report, required under the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, allows EPA, state governments, businesses and the public to gauge industry’s progress toward reducing toxic chemical pollution.

Beginning in 1998, the contents and scope of TRI expanded from prior years to include seven additional industrial sectors. The added sectors included: metal and coal mines, electric utilities, chemical distributors, petroleum bulk storage facilities, hazardous waste sites, and toxic solvent recovery facilities. Before 1998, only manufacturing industries and Federal facilities were required to report under TRI.

The expansion has had a major impact on the TRI, with the new industries accounting for 69 percent of the total on- and off-site releases nationwide in 1999 up from 66 percent in 1998. The 1999 TRI revealed total (both on-site and off-site) chemical releases of 7.8 billion pounds nationwide, compared to 7.4 billion pounds in 1998. Rising releases by companies in the newly added industry sectors accounted for much of the increases in the 1999 report.

Nationally, manufacturers and federal facilities (the “original industries”) actually declined in total releases, from 2.5 billion pounds in 1998 to 2.4 billion pounds in 1999. The newly included industries that reported for the first time in 1998, released 5.4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals in 1999, an increase of 10 percent from 1998 releases of 4.9 billion pounds.

Total Releases In Billions of Pounds
1998 1999
    New Industries 4.9 5.4
    Original Industries 2.5 2.4
    Total U.S. Releases 7.4 7.8

    In EPA’s Region 8 (CO, MT, ND, SD, UT and WY) the new industries accounted for 89 percent of the total on-site releases of 1.352 billion pounds in 1999 compared to 79 percent based on .615 billion pounds in 1998. A major increase in releases by one metal mine in Utah (Kennecott) was primarily responsible for the large increase in releases by the newly added industrial sectors in Region 8. The following table summarizes by state (throughout Region 8) the on-site releases of toxic chemicals for the original industries (manufacturing and federal facilities) and the new industry sectors reporting for the first time in 1998.
    On-Site Releases By State (In Millions of Pounds)
    Manufacturing & Federal New Industries Reporting
    Facilities (Original Industries) For The First Time in 1998

    1998 1999 1998 1999
    Colorado 5.4 6.1 21.0 15.0
    Montana 46.4 48.5 77.6 78.6
    North Dakota 2.3 2.4 10.1 10.7
    South Dakota 3.2 3.4 19.2 8.2
    Utah 98.6 82.4 475.4 1,078.7
    Wyoming 9.4 9.7 12.2 9.1

    Federal and state environmental laws allow industries to release limited amounts of pollutants into the air, water or land. As pollution-prevention technology and waste-management science improves, agencies may choose to tighten those limits. EPA uses the TRI to ensure that health and environmental standards are maintained and releases stay within permitted levels. The report also provides the public with information to help make community-based decisions to reduce health risks posed by certain industrial processes.

    “The public has a right to know what pollutants are in their communities,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Jack McGraw. “The TRI report provides individuals and communities with the means to make informed decisions about acceptable industrial pollution levels. It’s also a strong incentive for businesses to find innovative ways to prevent pollution.”

    Changes in TRI reporting requirements from year to year makes it difficult to gauge progress or setbacks by a particular company or an industry sector. Each year, chemicals are added to or deleted from the reporting requirements, and companies that weren’t listed one year may be a large releaser the next. This also makes it difficult to rank or compare states based on their reported chemical releases. One year a state may rank near the bottom of the report and suddenly, it jumps to the top, simply because it has companies using chemicals that did not previously require reporting. Therefore, use of comparisons or rankings should be done with care and viewed with the knowledge that a drastic change may be the result of changing reporting requirements.

    1999 TRI figures for states within Region 8 revealed:

    Colorado facilities reported 21,093,327 pounds of toxic chemicals released on site, of which 71 percent came from the new industries sectors reporting for the second time. In 1998, the new industries had accounted for 80 percent of on-site releases. The previously covered manufacturers and federal facilities reported 6,078,524 pounds of chemicals released on site during 1999, up 13 percent from the 5,387,555 pounds of on-site releases in 1998. Colorado ranked 39th nationally in on-site releases by the “original industries,” and 29th nationally for the new industries.

    Montana ranked 17th nationwide in the amount of toxic chemicals released on site by manufacturers. The new industries accounted for 62 percent of total on-site releases for the State in 1999. Total on-site releases in 1999 were 127,127,601 pounds, with a major portion of that from metal mining facilities reporting for the second time in 1999. The original industries released 48,545,330 pounds of chemicals in 1999, up five percent from 1998 releases of 46,376,224 pounds.

    North Dakota facilities reported 13,163,853 pounds of toxic chemicals released on site during 1999, with 81 percent from the new industries. Essentially all of the new industry on-site releases of 10,722,141 pounds came from electric utilities. The state ranked 47th nationwide in on-site releases by the original industries (manufacturing and Federal facilities), down from 46th in 1998. On-site releases by the original industries of 2,441,712 pounds in 1999 were up slightly from the 1998 level of 2,320,614 pounds.

    South Dakota ranked 45th nationwide in the amount of toxic chemicals released on site by the original industries in 1999, down from 44th in 1998. Total on-site releases of toxic chemicals by all facilities in 1999 were 11,620,392 pounds, with the new industries accounting for 71 percent of the total. On-site releases by the new industries in 1999 were down a substantial 57 percent from the 1998 total due to less metal mining activity. On-site releases by the original facilities in 1999 were 3,425,438 pounds, up seven percent from the 1998 level of 3,214,901 pounds.

    Utah facilities reported 1,161,086,118 pounds of toxic chemicals released on site during 1999, with 93 percent of the total from new industry facilities. One individual metal mine reported approximately a billion pound increase in on-site releases for 1999 compared to 1998. Utah ranked 2nd in the nation in 1999 in total on-site releases by the original and new industries. On-site releases by manufacturing and federal facilities totaled 82,379,463 pounds in 1999, a significant decline of 16 percent from 1998 releases of 98,567,796 pounds. Utah ranked 5th in 1999 based on releases from manufacturing and federal facilities, down from its 4th ranking of 1998.

    Wyoming had total on-site releases of toxic chemicals in 1999 of 18,785,964 pounds, down 13 percent from the 1998 total of 21,615,871. The new industries accounted for 48 percent. This state ranked 37th nationwide in total on-site releases by the original manufacturing and federal facilities, with the 1999 total of 9,680,574 pounds compared with a slightly lower 9,441,089 pounds in 1998. The new industries facilities released 9,105,390 pounds of toxic chemicals on site during 1999, with all of these releases coming from electric utilities and coal mines.

    “As the 1999 TRI data release shows, many businesses in our region have successfully reduced or eliminated chemical pollution near residential communities,” McGraw observed. “While we commend their efforts, others still have a ways to go if we are to effectively protect the health and environment of all communities in the west.”

    In April, 1997, former EPA Administrator Carol Browner signed the rule that expanded industry reporting under the community right-to-know program. The rule increased by about 30 percent the number of industrial facilities required to make public the levels of toxic chemicals they release into the air, water and land in communities across the country. The new rule added about 2,000 new facilities from the seven industrial sectors. With the new sectors, more than 23,000 facilities nationally now provide details on their environmental releases.

    The TRI is available in several formats. Many public libraries have the data release. Individuals can access it on-line at either: For data-use assistance, call 202/260-1531 or fax a request to 202/401-2347. EPA also maintains a national technical hotline (800/535-0202) to help individuals and businesses understand TRI and the reporting requirements.