Toxic Release Totals Continue to Decline

Analysis of data from the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) by the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shows a continued downward statewide trend in toxic pollutants entering Kentucky’s environment. With continued reduction in reported releases, the potential impact on communities that may be disproportionately impacted has also decreased.

The Kentucky DEP conducted an analysis of reporting data submitted by industries to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for calendar year 2014. Within Kentucky, there were a total of 431 facilities and 167 chemicals reported for the 2014 calendar year. It is notable that more than 91 percent of the TRI chemical waste generated during 2014 was recycled, treated, or used for energy recovery, rather than released or disposed of in environmental media (air, water or land).

TRI Graphic 1

The reported releases are typically authorized by permits with regulatory limits.  These limits protect human health and the environment. The decrease in releases to the environment can be attributed to production efficiencies, regulatory changes to permitting limits and pollution prevention activities conducted by Kentucky’s facilities. Toxic releases have been on a steady downward trend since 1988. The pattern is indicative of efforts made by facilities and regulators to protect the environment.

TRI Graphic 2

According to the reported data:

  • Total releases in six out of the top 10 Kentucky counties with the highest toxic release amounts in 2013, decreased in the 2014 reporting year. On-site releases in seven of the top 10 Kentucky counties decreased from 2013 to 2014.
  • On-site releases in Kentucky for calendar year 2014 were 64,584,183 pounds. Off-site releases totaled 9,464,119 pounds. The combined total of on-site and off-site releases and disposal were reported as 71,048,302 pounds, according to the 2014 data.
  • In 2014, on-site releases decreased 2,227,444 pounds (3.5 percent) from 2013 reports, while off-site releases increased 1,181,965 pounds (14.3 percent), and total reductions of 1,045,479 pounds were reported compared to the 2013 reporting year, which is a 1.5 percent decrease for total releases.
  • Total releases or disposal in Kentucky decreased 6,938,017 pounds over the last two reporting cycles (2013 and 2014). Total releases since the 2010 reporting year have decreased 25,900,719 which is a 26.7 percent decrease from 2010 reports.
  • On-site releases for the top ten chemicals in 2014 decreased to land (-5.6 percent), air(-5.2 percent) and surface water (-0.3 percent).
  • Total releases for five out of the top 10 facilities in Kentucky decreased from 2013 to 2014. Those 10 facilities were also the top ten facilities in 2014, and comprise 61 percent of releases from all Kentucky facilities that reported.
  • n 2014, air emissions from Kentucky electrical utilities decreased from 2013 values. Reported air emissions in 2014 are the lowest in 14 years of electrical utility reporting under the Toxic Release Inventory.
  • When compared to 2013 data, national trends showed a 6.3 percent decrease in on-site releases, 0.8 percent increase in off-site releases, and 5.7 percent decrease in total releases.

For more information on the Toxic Release Inventory, visit http://dep.ky.gov/Pages/TRI.aspx.

For the 2014 DEP analysis, visit http://dca.ky.gov/Documents/KYTRIreportJan2016.pdf

For additional information on the Kentucky DEP Toxic Release Inventory Analysis for the 2014 Reporting Year, contact Larry Taylor at LarryC.Taylor@ky.gov or by phone at (502) 564-0323.

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