Contact Us

Newsroom

News Releases - Research

 

Lead, Ammonia Among Most Commonly Released Toxic Chemicals in California, According to Latest U.S. EPA Report Released Today/ 56 million pounds of toxic chemicals released into environment, increase of 10 million pounds from previous year

Release Date: 03/19/2009
Contact Information: Mary Simms, 415-947-4270, simms.mary@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO (3/19/2009) – Toxic releases into the environment from facilities operating in California increased 23 percent in 2007 when compared to 2006, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The data comes from the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, commonly referred to as TRI. It’s one of the EPA’s largest publicly available databases, arming communities with valuable information on more than 650 toxic chemicals released by various industries. The chemical information in the inventory is calculated by industrial facilities and reported to the EPA, as required by law.

“The Toxic Release Inventory program arms communities with powerful information,” said Laura Yoshii, acting EPA administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. “The inventory is a tremendous tool to help protect public health and the environment. Safe communities depend on well-informed citizens.”

In California, 1,367 facilities reported a total of 56 million pounds of toxic chemical releases.

Total releases include toxic chemicals discharged by facilities to air, water, land, and underground, and the amount transferred off-site for disposal. Regulatory controls apply to many of the reported releases. Reporting facilities must comply with environmental standards set by local, state and federal agencies.

Data from 2007 in California shows:

• Hazardous waste treatment, petroleum refinery, and gold mining account for 60 percent of the releases in 2007.

• The increased toxic releases in 2007 were primarily due to a 91 percent increase in land releases, mostly waste disposal. Chemical Waste Management, a hazardous waste treatment facility in Kettlemen City had an increase of 111 percent from 2006 to 2007, approximately 9.7 million pounds.

• Air releases decreased by 9 percent.

• Water releases decreased 960 thousand pounds.

Annual Toxic Release Inventory reporting began in 1987. The inventory provides information on annual toxic chemical releases reported by certain industrial and federal facilities. The TRI does not include data on toxic emissions from cars and trucks, nor from the majority of non-industrial sources, such as agriculture.

In 2000, TRI expanded to include persistent bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals, or PBTs, at ranges from 0.1 grams to 100 pounds. PBT pollutants are toxic chemicals that remain in the environment and food chain, posing risks to human health and ecosystems. In California, 10 million pounds of total on-site and off-site releases of PBT chemicals were reported. This is an increase of 111 percent from the previous year. An increase of 3.9 million pounds of chemical releases, as reported by Western Mesquite Inc., a gold ore mining facility, drove the overall increase of PBT releases in the state.

The top facilities in California for total on-site and off-site releases of all chemicals (reported in pounds) are:

Facility Name City Total Releases

1 Chemical Waste Management Inc. Kettleman City 18,478,063

2 Western Mesquite Mines Inc. Brawley 3,896,855

3 Evergreen Pulp Enterprises Samoa 2,406,150

4 Clean Harbors Buttonwillow LLC Buttonwillow 2,096,259

5 Quemetco Inc. City Of Industry 1,797,518

6 GE Osmonics Vista 1,638,260

7 Tesoro Refining & Marketing Co. Martinez 1,618,301

8 Valero Refining Co. (California Benicia Refinery) Benicia 1,580,697

9 Exxonmobil Oil Corp. (Torrance Refinery) Torrance 1,253,518

10 Chevron Products Co. (Richmond Refinery) Richmond 926,873

TRI explorer

TRI Explorer is a tool that you can use to see the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data. It allows you to look at data by state, county, or zip code; by chemical; by industry. It provides maps that you can click on to find TRI facilities, chemicals and industries in a particular area.

Some findings of interest at the national level:

There was a 5% decrease in total disposal or other releases into the environment nationwide from 2006 to 2007.

• PBTs make up 12% of total releases and have increased by 1% from 2006-2007. Lead drives overall PBT statistics with 98% of total for 2007. Lead showed a less than 1% increase (3.5 million pounds) from 2006-2007.

• Mercury releases increasing by 38% (1.9 million pounds).

• On-site land release down 6% (113 million pounds) since 2006.

Region 9 TRI home: http://www.epa.gov/region09/toxic/tri/index.html

To view top California facility releases by geographic area visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/toxic/tri/report/07/tri-ca.html

The following web sites provide city, county and facility information on TRI: http://www.epa.gov/triexplorer/ and http://www.epa.gov/enviro. State fact sheets are available at: http://www.epa.gov/triexplorer/statefactsheet.htm.

###