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Latest Toxic Release Data for Rhode Island Show Drop in Pollution Discharges; Multi-year Trend Continues in All New England States Under Community Right-To-Know

Release Date: 06/23/04
Contact Information: Contact: David Deegan, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1017 TRI Technical Information - Dwight Peavey, 617-918-1829

For Immediate Release: June 23, 2004; Release # 04-06-29

The most recent data show that releases of toxic chemicals by industrial sources in all six New England states, including Rhode Island, continue to decline.

The latest report of the Toxic Release Inventory, released today by EPA, confirms that for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont there has been approximately a 90 percent decline in releases of more than 650 tracked chemicals since 1988. In Rhode Island, total releases have declined by 91 percent overall since 1988. Nationally, chemical releases have declined by approximately 57 percent.

These data, made available each year to the public and communities throughout the U.S., covers pollution releases to air, water and land by power plants, manufacturers and other facilities which employee ten or more workers and exceed thresholds for TRI chemicals. During 2002, just under 24.9 million pounds of chemicals were released in the six New England states, with Rhode Island's release figure at approximately 786,422 pounds. Of Rhode Island's releases, 98.4 percent were emitted to the air during 2002.

"Each of the New England states, including Rhode Island, continue to see declining levels of emissions, even as the number of facilities reporting has increased," said Robert W. Varney, Regional Administrator for EPA's New England Office. "It is extremely important for the public to know what chemicals are being released in and near their communities. Careful analysis of this data confirms that over time, the amount of toxic substances released to the air, land and water continue to decline in our states."

The list of chemicals emitted, and facilities required to report, has expanded a number of times since the Toxic Release Inventory was begun in 1988. Comparing releases in 2002 of only those chemicals and industry sectors reported in 1988 show a decline of 57.4 percent nationwide, and a drop of 91 percent in Rhode Island.

"The Department of Environmental Management is pleased to see a steady decline in the amount of toxic pollutants emitted into the environment by industries in Rhode Island," said DEM Acting Director Frederick Vincent. "The newly released data shows significant reductions in toxic pollutant releases and indicates a continuing downward trend. The Department, through its air quality improvement programs, is working to reduce toxic emissions even further for the benefit of citizens throughout the state."

The current data, for the year 2002, represent the third year that reporting has been required for a group of persistent and bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs) that includes mercury, dioxins, PCBs and polycyclic aromatic compounds. This is the second year that reporting has been required for lead and lead compounds. Persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals do not readily break down in the environment and can build up in living organisms, especially higher in the food chain in fish, wildlife and other animals, and humans. In Rhode Island, 6,190 pounds of PBTs were released to the environment of which 93 percent were lead or lead compounds (5,750 lbs). In 2002, facilities in Rhode Island released 12 pounds of mercury, 0.0007 grams of dioxins and 429 pounds of polycyclic aromatic compounds.

Today's data includes information on releases and other wastes more than 650 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 top five chemicals released to the environment during 2002 in Rhode Island were:

    • Toluene (205,402 lbs.)
    • Methyl Ethyl Ketone (124,679 lbs.)
    • Ammonia (97,193 lbs.)
    • Styrene (70,106 lbs.)
    • Gylcol Ethers (67,071 lbs.).
The following is a list of Rhode Island'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, nor do these figures identify any potential risk of exposure to members of the communities. Also, yearly releases can vary due to factors such as power outages, production variability, etc., that do not reflect the facility's pollution prevention program(s).

FacilityPounds releasedDifference from 2001
Kenyon Inds. Inc., Shannock85,900- 3,600
Fibermark DSI, Johnston 74,543- 30,092
Soluol Chemical Co. West Warwick70,782+ 23,805
Osram Sylvania Products, Inc. Central Falls58,996+ 24,832
Cooley Inc., Pawtucket55,826+ 22,936
TPI Composites Inc., Warren 49,373 + 8,160
Tech Industry, Inc., Woonsocket48,739- 4,137
ExxonMobil Oil Corp., East Providence30,361 + 3,824
Rhode Island Textile Co., Pawtucket28,846New
Arkwright Inc., Fiskeville 23,993 + 3,240

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.

Anybody is now able to access TRI data using an online tool called TRI Explorer. Using this, interested parties can search TRI data and generate four type of reports: state fact sheets, release reports, waste transfer reports and waste quantity reports. Information can be accessed for specific states, chemicals, years, media or industrial sectors. TRI Explorer and additional information on the TRI program are available at: http://www.epa.gov/tri .

Related Information:
Toxics Release Inventory
Community Right-to-Know