EPA issues Toxics Release Inventory 2021 report on chemical releases and waste management in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) 2021 National Analysis, which summarizes TRI activities reported during calendar year 2021. The TRI contains data on toxic chemicals that are manufactured, processed, or managed at thousands of facilities in the U.S. The TRI includes quantities of chemicals that facilities manage as waste, including waste released to the environment, treated, burned for energy, recycled, and transferred from one facility to another. The TRI is a valuable source of public information and is used by community members, researchers, government agencies, and companies to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
“Communities have a right to know how and where toxic chemicals and waste are being managed, released, or recycled," said Casey Sixkiller, EPA Region 10 Regional Administrator. “I am pleased that companies are making strides to reduce pollution, and I encourage states and Tribes to apply for EPA grant funding to help further this progress. When we work together, we can prevent pollution at the source and support business growth while also empowering nearby, often overburdened and vulnerable communities.”
The 2021 TRI Analysis shows a continued decrease in releases from facilities in EPA’s Region 10 -- which covers Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. In 2021, facilities in Region 10 managed 1.1 billion pounds of production related waste, and released or disposed of 777 million pounds of TRI chemicals into the environment. From 2012 to 2021, releases in Region 10 decreased by over 19% and production related waste decreased by over 14%, driven by typical yearly fluctuations in metal mining in Alaska. Changes in the chemical composition of ore extracted at metal mines can result in large year-to-year changes in the amount of waste metal that mines report to TRI. To learn more about metal mining operations and their TRI reporting, explore our interactive metal mining diagram. Excluding the metal mining sector, Region 10 releases have decreased by over 15% since 2012, driven by a 55% reduction in waste disposal.
The TRI also has information on how facilities are working to reduce or prevent chemical wastes, referred to as “pollution prevention or P2” and “source reduction”. In 2021, over 7% of TRI facilities in Region 10 implemented new source reduction activities, helping to prevent pollution at the source. These activities include facilities implementing strategies like replacing TRI chemicals with less hazardous alternatives. Through existing programs and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA offers pollution prevention (P2) grant opportunities to state and tribal technical assistance providers to help prevent pollution.
The 2021 TRI Analysis features updated visualizations and analytical tools to make data more useful and accessible to communities, including the option to view data by region and watershed. EPA’s updated mapping tool “Where You Live” allows readers to view facility locations with overlayed demographic data to identify potential exposure to TRI chemical releases in vulnerable communities. Explore other ways to use the TRI in EPA’s online TRI Data and Tools resource.
TRI was established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) in response to concerns regarding the environmental and safety hazards posed by the storage and handling of toxic chemicals. These concerns were triggered by the 1984 disaster in Bhopal, India, caused by an accidental release of methylisocyanate. The release killed or severely injured thousands of people.
To reduce the likelihood of such a disaster in the United States, Congress imposed requirements for federal, state, and local governments, tribes, and industry. These requirements covered emergency planning and "Community Right-to-Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. The Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public's knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment.