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New Toxic Release Data for Maine Shows Drop in Pollution Discharges; EPA Data Also Includes List of Top 10 Emitters in Maine

Release Date: 06/30/2003
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON – Data released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show an 68 percent decline since 1988 – and a 3 percent drop since 2000 – in toxic releases to the environment by facilities in Maine

The Toxic Release Inventory data, made available each year to the public and on the world wide web, covers pollution releases to air, water and land by power plants, manufacturers and other facilities. During 2001, 10.7 million pounds of chemicals were released in Maine by 118 facilities during 2001, the most recent year for which data is available.

The 2001 data is the second year that reporting was required for a group of persistent pollutants known as bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs). These compounds, including mercury, dioxins, PCBs and lead, do not break down in the environment and build up in organisms, including fish, wildlife and humans. These compounds can have adverse effects on women of child bearing age, pregnant women, fetuses and babies. In 2001, facilities in Maine released 117 pounds of mercury, and 308,179 pounds of lead and lead-containing compounds.

"Knowledge about what's being discharged into the environment is hugely important, both for EPA and for the public," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "This TRI data lets us see the volume and kinds of pollution being discharged into the environment and where those discharges are coming from. This information is a cornerstone for environmental protection at the federal, state and local level. I'm especially pleased to see impressive increases in new facilities reporting on PBT emissions. This reporting is very important as we focus on eliminating threats from mercury, lead and other toxins that, even in very small amounts, can have adverse effects on developing children."

"This is good information to have, whether you're making production decisions or evaluating environmental impacts," said Dawn Gallagher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. "At the state level, we will be working with companies of all types and sizes to set goals for further reductions."

Nationwide, in 2001 facilities released 6.16 billion pounds of toxins to the air, the water, or to land both on- and off-site releases. The list of chemicals emitted and facilities required to report has expanded several times since the inventory was begun for 1988 releases, but comparing releases in 2001 of only those chemicals and industry sectors reported in 1988 show an 54.5% drop nationwide. Nationally, PBT chemicals accounted for 454.4 million pounds of total on- and off-site releases in 2001.

Today's data includes information on releases and other wastes from 667 toxic chemicals and chemical categories that companies are required to report under EPA's TRI Program. The data includes toxics released at the company's facility and those transported to disposal facilities off site. All manufacturing companies, as well as coal and oil fired power plants, that produce or use above the threshold limit for any chemical are required to participate. Thresholds range from thousands of pounds to 100 or ten pounds for PBTs, down to 0.1 grams for dioxin-like compounds.

The following is a list of Maine's 10 largest on- and off-site emitters of the toxic chemicals. No attempt has been made to adjust the totals to reflect the relative seriousness of the chemicals emitted. It is important to note that these chemical emissions are reported to EPA under the TRI and do not reflect illegal discharges of pollutants to the environment.

Facility
Pounds released
McCain Foods USA Inc., Easton
2,707,025
S. D. Warren Co. Sappi Fine Paper N. A., Skowhegan
1,338,189
Domtar Maine Corp., Baileyville
961,517
International Paper, Jay
740,527
Mead Publishing Paper Div., Rumford
706,236
Fort James Operating Co., Old Town
475,681
International Paper Co., Bucksport,
411,202
Lincoln Pulp & Paper Co. Inc., Lincoln
374,314
Great Northern Paper Inc., Millinocket
363,971
S. D. Warren Co., Westbrook
192,877

The reporting of data to the Toxics Release Inventory is required under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, passed in 1986. The TRI provides the amount, location and type of release to the environment -- whether a pollutant is emitted into the air, discharged into the water, or released onto the land. It also includes information on waste shipped off-site for disposal or further treatment. The TRI has been credited with arming communities with valuable knowledge and encouraging facilities to reduce their releases of toxic chemicals into the environment through source reduction, or pollution prevention, measures.

TRI information is easily accessible to the news media and to the public. Information is available on-line, http://www.epa.gov/tri, in hard copy and in a variety of computer formats, including CD-ROM. For copies or more information, the public is encouraged to call EPA's toll-free Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Hotline at 1(800) 424-9346.