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EPA Publishes 2019 Annual Toxics Release Inventory Report

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Pacific Southwest data show 3% increase in chemical releases, according to the federal agency.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 2019 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis, which shows that EPA and companies that manage chemicals continue to make progress in preventing pollution. The report shows that between 2018 and 2019 total releases of TRI chemicals decreased by 9%.

In the Pacific Southwest, which includes California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawai’i and the outer Pacific Island territories, the metal mining sector accounted for 78% of the TRI-reported chemical releases for 2019. After metal mining, the primary metals (including smelting), hazardous waste management, and petroleum sectors reported the highest releases. The total quantity of TRI chemicals managed as waste by facilities in Region 9 during 2019 increased by 3% from 2018, driven by increased production-related waste managed in the electrical equipment and metal mining sectors. For 2019, 6% of facilities in the Pacific Southwest Region reported implementing new source reduction activities. Source reduction reporting rates were among the highest in the electrical equipment sector, in which 22% of facilities reported at least one source reduction activity.                

“The Toxic Release Inventory provides people throughout the Pacific Southwest with information about potential hazards in their communities,” said John Busterud, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The inventory also provides valuable data on chemical releases from specific facilities and communities over time.”

EPA provides additional information on the TRI website to help explain the data reported by the metal mining sector. Along with informational tools and resources, the website features an interactive graphic—which was developed with input from stakeholders—explaining how metal mines operate, and generally how and where releases of TRI-listed chemicals happen. For the State of Nevada, 95% of all TRI releases in the state are due to the metal mining industry.

“The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection implements state laws and regulations that subject all operating Nevada mines to rigorous permitting, monitoring, and inspection to protect water quality and public health,” said Nevada Division of Environmental Protection Administrator Greg Lovato. “It is well understood that the TRI data alone do not indicate whether the environment or the public is actually exposed to any of the listed chemicals. Safe management practices are required and enforced for the engineering design, permitting and construction of ore and waste rock facilities to ensure strong protection of Nevada’s air, water and land.”

Nationwide, for the first time in five years industrial and federal facilities reported an increase in new source reduction activities that aim to reduce or eliminate chemical-containing waste. During 2019, facilities across the US also avoided releasing into the environment 89% of the chemical-containing waste they created and managed by using preferred practices such as recycling, treatment, and energy recovery.

The 2019 TRI National Analysis released reflects TRI chemical waste management activities, including releases, that occurred during calendar year 2019. The report therefore does not indicate any potential impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency that began in the United States in early 2020. Due to the significant analysis of reported information, this summary and interpretation of the most recent TRI data is released approximately six months after the reporting deadline.

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