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TRI 2013

Toxic Waste Managed Increased in 2013

TRI 2013Most of the toxic chemical waste managed at industrial facilities in 2013 in the US was not released into the environment, according to the EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report.

The report shows that about 22 billion pounds — or 84 percent— of the 26 billion pounds of toxic chemical waste were instead managed through the use of preferred practices such as recycling, similar to previous years’ TRIs.

Of the 4 billion pounds that were disposed of or otherwise released to the environment, 66 percent went to land, 19 percent to air, 5 percent to water and 10 percent was transferred to other facilities.

From 2012 to 2013, the amount of toxic chemicals managed as waste by the nation’s industrial facilities increased by 4 percent. This increase includes the amount of chemicals recycled, treated and burned for energy recovery, as well as the amount disposed of or otherwise released into the environment.

In TRI, a “release” generally refers to a chemical that is emitted to the air, water or placed in some type of land disposal. Most of these releases are subject to a variety of regulatory requirements designed to limit human and environmental harm.

TRI data is submitted annually to the EPA, states and tribes by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities and commercial hazardous waste.

Over the past 10 years, total disposal or other releases to the environment have decreased 7 percent, despite a 15 percent increase from 2012 to 2013. The most recent increase was primarily due to increases in on-site land disposal from the metal mining sector, as has been the case in previous years. Metal mines typically handle large volumes of material. In this sector, a small change in the chemical composition of the deposit being mined can lead to big changes in the amount of toxic chemicals reported nationally.

Air releases from industrial facilities increased by 1 percent from 2012 to 2013, mainly due to increases from chemical manufacturing facilities and electric utilities that also experienced an increase in production. From 2012 to 2013, releases to water decreased by 2 percent, primarily due to decreases from the primary metals sector.

The TRI report is available in a new interactive, Web-based format that features analyses and interactive maps showing data at a state, county, city, and zip code level. In addition, information about industry efforts to reduce pollution is accessible through the expanded TRI Pollution Prevention (P2) Search Tool, where viewers can now identify P2 successes and compare environmental performance among facilities and companies that provide data to the TRI program.

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