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EPA Toxics Release Inventory Report provides Alaska residents with information on chemical releases

Release Date: 01/16/2013
Contact Information: Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454, kader.hanady@epa.gov

(Seattle—Jan. 16, 2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published the 2011 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis, providing information to communities about chemical releases to air, water and land across the nation.

Due to extensive metal mining activity and the permitted disposal of large volumes of regulated mining waste , Alaska had the highest TRI releases in the nation and had a 25 percent increase in releases from the previous year. TRI releases from Alaska metal mines can be attributed to increased production, changes in the production process or variations in the ore body’s composition.

Because mining waste facilities handle large volumes of material, small changes in chemical composition of mining ore can lead to significant changes in the overall amount of toxic chemicals reported. Since 1998, when metal mining was added to TRI, 99 percent of Alaska’s reported releases have come from the regulated disposal of waste rock and mine tailings.

TRI releases include permitted air emissions and wastewater discharges; management of wastes in regulated disposal facilities; and accidental spills and releases. Land releases include all chemicals disposed on land within the boundaries of the reporting facility, including landfills, land treatment and holding ponds. TRI facilities in Alaska are regulated under EPA and State of Alaska permits with monitoring and compliance requirements designed to protect public health and the environment.

The TRI program requires certain industries to report information on toxic chemicals, waste management and pollution prevention across the country. Industries that must report to TRI include manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities and hazardous waste facilities.

In general, most categories of TRI releases increased in 2011 across the country. Hazardous air pollutant emissions and releases to surface water decreased in Alaska, as they did in the rest of the country. Mercury releases to air, total air releases and land releases decreased nationally but increased in Alaska due to mining.

Chemicals are placed on the TRI list based on their potential to cause adverse effects to human health or the environment. The TRI data alone do not reflect actual health exposures to chemicals or risk posed by releases.

EPA improved TRI national analysis report by adding new information about facility efforts to reduce pollution, insights into why air releases are declining, and an enhanced analysis of releases on tribal lands. With this report and EPA’s Web-based TRI tools, citizens can access information about TRI-listed toxic chemical releases in their communities and across the country.

Facilities must report their toxic chemical releases to EPA under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) by the beginning of July each year.

More on the 2011 TRI analysis and TRI Web-based tools: http://www.epa.gov/tri/NationalAnalysis

More on EPA Region 10 data: www.epa.gov/region10/tri/2011data.html

More on State of Alaska efforts regarding TRI: http://www.dec.alaska.gov/spar/perp/tri/tri.htm.