By: Duane Craig
Toxic Release Inventory shows a 30 percent reduction in chemical releases to the environment since 2001. The agency, however, says the database provides only a snapshot of the pollution, that it doesn’t cover all toxic chemicals and that it doesn’t cover all sectors of the economy.
Perhaps more troubling, the quantities of chemicals being reported are provided by the companies that release them, and many times they are just estimates. This is a classic case of the foxes guarding the hen houses, and there is ample evidence, reported here and elsewhere, that the Toxic Release Inventory tells an unreliable story about the amount of chemical pollution being released by companies. In one example, a facility in New York State was releasing benzene into the environment at rates 30 times higher than reported to the TRI.
While the overall releases were estimated to be down nationwide, many regions, states and localities experienced increases in toxic releases. For example, according to this report, Oregon had a 20 percent increase in releases from 2009 through 2010. Illinois saw a 10 percent increase in the pounds of toxins released in that state from 2009 to 2010, according to this report.