EPA Report Shows Toxic Release Numbers are Up

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s report on the amount of toxic chemicals released to the land, air and water by industrial facilities in 2011 showed an increase for releases in the Virgin Islands over the previous reporting year. However, the number is expected to drop in the report due out next January because the territory’s biggest generator of toxic releases, St. Croix’s Hovensa, has closed.

“This report informs the public about the types of pollution in our communities and where they come from,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said in a press release issued Wednesday. “It is an invaluable tool that shows the volume of pollutants that were coming from the Hovensa facility when it was operating as a refinery.”

The Toxics Release Inventory report issued Wednesday by the EPA covered four facilities in the Virgin Islands that are required to report their releases. They are Hovensa, the St. Thomas Bulk Terminal at Cyril E. King Airport and the V.I. Water and Power facilities at Estate Richmond on St. Croix and at Krum Bay on St. Thomas.

Total reported toxic releases to land, air and water by these facilities increased from about 760,000 pounds in the previous report to 1.8 million pounds in the current report released Wednesday. According to the press release, much of the increase was due to new requirements to report two chemicals released by Hovensa and a more accurate method used by Hovensa to calculate emissions.

In the previous report, Hovensa reported 729,453 pounds of toxic releases, much lower than the nearly 1.8 million reported in the latest report.

Of the 1.8 million pounds for the four plants in the current report, all but 25,481 pounds came from Hovensa. WAPA’s Krum Bay facility generated 24,998 pounds, a decrease from 29,812 pounds in the previous report. Releases for the St. Thomas Bulk Terminal dropped to 3,064 pounds from 3,360 pounds.WAPA’s Richmond facility released 480 pounds, up from 449 pounds in the previous report.

Since 1988, Toxic Release Inventory data has been provided to the public annually to help people learn more about the chemicals present in their local environment and to gauge environmental trends over time. The inventory contains the most comprehensive information about chemicals released into the environment reported annually by certain industries and federal facilities.

Most of these facilities have permits issued under federal regulations that set limits on the amount of chemicals that they are allowed to release into the air, water or land.

Facilities must report their toxic chemical releases by July 1 of each year. This year the EPA made a preliminary set of data for 2011 available on July 31. Nationally, over 20,000 facilities reported on approximately 682 chemicals and chemical categories for calendar year 2011.

The full report is available at: http://epa.gov/tri/NationalAnalysis.

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