Day: April 17, 2006

Toxic Release Inventory Excitement!

Environmental Protection Agency – EPA Press Release: EPA Report Shows Decrease in Toxic Chemicals Released

(Washington, D.C. – April 12, 2006) The amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment decreased four percent from 2003 to 2004 according to the Environmental Protections Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) released today.

“Today’s report demonstrates that economic growth and effective environmental protection can go hand-in-hand,” said Linda Travers, acting assistant administrator for the Office of Environmental Information. “We are encouraged to see a continued reduction in the overall amount of toxic chemicals being released into the environment.”

Significant decreases were seen in some of the most toxic chemicals from 2003-2004.

· Dioxin and dioxin compounds, which decreased by 58 percent,
· mercury and mercury compounds, which were cut by 16 percent and
· polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) went down 92 percent.

Why, that is positively great news, especially on the dioxin and PCB front. Since pictures are nicer and data from the last 5 years provides a little more context, why don’t we use the Toxics Release Inventory Explorer to pull some information together…

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No drastic decreases, dioxin releases during 2004 are close to those during 2000. Wow, seems like 2003 was an especially bad year, the PCB release is off the charts. One landfill facility was responsible for more than 80% of the release. Kinda useless to point to trends caused by single data points, but I guess that’s what press releases are for, pick on some fortuitous piece of data and hope that the media is lazy enough to not spend a little time looking into the story.

The grist picks (up) on this release as well.

Meanwhile, the EPA is considering a loosening of regulation in this regard, read this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article for more details.

The EPA inventory “keeps that pressure on to keep those emissions down,” Hansen said. That’s the purpose of this kind of public information or “right-to-know” program.

The EPA has not made a final decision on the changes it has proposed — namely, requiring emissions reports every two years instead of annually and raising the volume of chemicals that have to be released before a report is required.

“The jury is still out,” said Brook Madrone, TRI program manager for the regional EPA office.

Information is power (always end on a cliche!)