EPA Toxics Release Inventory Not a Reflection of Risk
- For immediate release — January 12, 2021
- Contact: Allan Nakanishi, 907-269-4028,
Juneau, AK — Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released analysis of the annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2019. While the title suggests the data is comprised of accidental spills and releases, it also includes permitted and regulated releases, such as air emissions and wastewater discharges, and managed waste in regulated disposal facilities.
"Big mines like Red Dog and Greens Creek move a significant amount of material as part of their daily operations, but such permitted actions do not adversely impact human health and the environment," said Commissioner Jason Brune. "Characterizing such releases as toxic is disingenuous at best."
The vast majority of Alaska’s reported releases — more than 99.9 percent — consist of naturally occurring trace minerals in overburden, spent rock, and tailings excavated from mines, which are disposed of in state-permitted, engineered, and monitored disposal sites. Due to extensive mining activity, Alaska had the highest reported TRI volumes in the nation.
The TRI program collects information on certain releases to air, water and land, as well as information on waste management and pollution prevention by facilities across the country. Facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste facilities submit annual TRI data to the EPA, states, and tribes. Toxic chemical release reports are required under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 also requires information on waste management activities related to TRI chemicals.
Chemicals are placed on the TRI list based on their potential to cause adverse effects to human health or the environment if they are not safely managed. The TRI reports do not necessarily mean that the public is being exposed to toxic chemicals or is at risk from every release, as almost all of the releases are regulated under permit conditions designed to limit human and environmental exposure.