EPA Report: Toxic Releases Continue to Drop

July 15, 2002

Agency releases TRI data

," According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) latest Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) report, total releases of toxic chemicals into the environment decreased by approximately 700 million pounds in 2000, dropping to 7.1 billion pounds from 7.8 billion pounds in 1999. The manufacturing sector started reporting TRI data in 1987. In 1998, new sectors were added to the TRI reporting requirements, including metal mining facilities, electric utilities, coal mining facilities, chemical wholesalers, hazardous waste and solvent recovery operations, and petroleum bulk plants and terminals. Currently, approximately 650 chemicals are subject to TRI reporting. EPA said 23,484 facilities submitted 91,513 TRI reporting forms in 2000. The report also has data on persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemicals not included in earlier reporting requirements. According to EPA, these new data provide communities with a more complete picture of the chemical sources in their environment. The report says approximately 27 percent of the chemicals was released into the air, 4 percent to the water, and 69 percent to land (on-site or off-site). As in past years, releases from the metal mining industry accounted for 47 percent of the TRI data. Manufacturing industries accounted for 32 percent, and electric utilities for approximately 16 percent. Since 1988, chemical releases have decreased approximately 48 percent, said the agency. The full report is available atwww.epa.gov/tri/tridata/tri00/index.htm.

Nine contaminants will not require SDWA regulation

," The EPA determined that nine substances on the National Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List do not warrant regulation. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) required the agency to establish the list to assist EPA in establishing priorities. EPA missed the August 2001 deadline to determine whether to regulate certain contaminants and is making its first determinations now. The contaminants that do not warrant regulation, according to the agency, are three inorganic compounds (manganese, sodium and sulfate), three synthetic organic compounds (aldrin, dieldrin and metibuzin), two volatile organic compounds (hexachlorobutadiene and naphthalene) and one microbe (acanthamoeba). The first candidate list, published in March 1998, contained 50 chemicals and 10 microbial contaminants. EPA will continue to conduct research on the remaining contaminants. Final comments related to the nine contaminants will be made after a 60-day comment period and public meeting. Interested parties may submit comments through August 2. Additional information is available by calling Karen Wirth at (202) 564-5246 or by contacting her at[email protected].

DOT issues security advisory to truckers

," The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a security advisory to warn trucking and oil companies about the possibility of terrorist attacks. This advisory follows a general alert to the entire petroleum industry in April. DOT is advising industry to be especially vigilant during times when hazardous material movements involving fuel and petroleum products are stopped even for a short period. According to the American Trucking Associations, non-emergency suspicious activities should be reported to local FBI offices or to local 911 dispatchers if they involve an immediate threat. The advisory was issued jointly by DOT's Office of Intelligence and Security and FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center. According to DOT's Chet Lunner, director of Public Affairs, the advisory is part of a series that aims to remind various sectors to remain on higher alert. For more information, see the American Trucking Associations' Web site atwww.truckline.com.

NRC comments on ocean petroleum releases

," According to a new report from the National Research Council (NRC), the vast majority of petroleum releases to North American oceans associated with human activities arise from urban runoff and small boats and jet skis. The report says approximately 25 million gallons of petroleum relating to human activities and consumptive oil use enter the oceans per year. In contrast, only about 880,000 gallons are introduced into oceans from oil and gas exploration, and 2.7 million gallons are discharged during the transportation of petroleum products. The major sources of petroleum from land-based contributors are urban runoff, petroleum refinery wastewater, municipal wastewater and non-refining industrial wastes. The contamination from urban runoff is intensifying as the population along coastal areas increases. The most significant source of petroleum discharge into oceans is not associated with human activities, however. Natural seeps from geological formations on the oceanfloor account for approximately 47 million gallons annually, or approximately 60 percent, of the petroleum entering the North American marine environment, says the report. The report,Oil in the Sea: Inputs, Fates and Effects, is available from the National Academy Press atwww.nap.edu. CP

Grayson is a partner with Jenner & Block, Chicago, working in the firm's Environmental Law practice group, www.jenner.com/practice/environ/environ.html. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

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