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EPA: Industrial Toxic Chemical Pollution Down

Toxic chemical pollution from industrial plants and factories was down 2 percent in 2006 to 4.25 billion pounds.

WASHINGTON (AP) β€” Toxic chemical pollution from industrial plants and factories declined by 2 percent in 2006 despite increases in the mining and petroleum sectors, the government said Thursday.
Companies reported that 4.25 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the air, onto land, into waterways, injected deep into the ground, or stored on site as waste. That is about 105 million pounds less than 2005.
About one-third of the chemicals, or 1.41 billion pounds, were reported released into the air, 7 percent less than in 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency said. An additional 250 million pounds of chemicals went into surface waterways, a 3 percent decline.
  • The metal mining industry reported it released into the environment or disposed of 1.22 billion pounds of toxic chemicals. That was 4 percent more than in 2005.
  • The electric utility industry had the second largest release, 1.02 billion pounds. But it also reported the largest decrease, about 6 percent.
  • Next was the chemical industry, which reported a drop of 4 percent, to 514 million pounds.
  • The petroleum sector reported 76 million pounds of releases, an increase of 8 percent.
  • About one-third of the chemicals, or 1.4 billion pounds, were deposited on land.
  • Industries injected about 14 percent, or 606 million pounds, injected into deep underground wells.
The 2006 figures reflected a change that the EPA allowed, reducing the amount of information that some companies needed to report. Companies could turn in shorter, less detailed forms if they used less than 5,000 pounds of toxic chemicals or released less than 2,000 pounds.
In the past, more detailed information had to be provided in longer forms at a threshold of 500 pounds. The new rule maintains that reporting threshold for only some of the most dangerous chemicals.
Opponents of the change have said the more lenient reporting allows some facilities to hide data about toxic chemical releases. The EPA said the changes only streamlined the reporting process.
The EPA said 22,880 industrial and manufacturing facilities submitted 87,900 forms on the 2006 data. The reporting covered 650 chemicals.
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