Toxic Release Totals Continue to Decline

Analysis of data from the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) by the Kentucky Department for 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 reporttoxic-release-totals-decline1ing data submitted by industries to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for calendar year 2015. Within Kentucky, there were a total of 421 facilities and 151 chemicals reported for the 2015 calendar year. It is notable that more than 92 percent of the TRI chemical waste generated during 2015 was recycled, treated, or used for energy recovery, rather than released or disposed of in environmental media (air, water or land).

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 toxic-release-totals-decline-2pattern is indicative of efforts made by facilities and regulators to protect the environment.

According to the reported data:

  • Total releases in eight out of the top 10 Kentucky counties with the highest toxic release amounts in 2014, decreased in the 2015 reporting year. On-site releases in eight of the top 10 Kentucky counties decreased from 2014 to 2015.
  • On-site releases in Kentucky for calendar year 2015 were 54,406,982 pounds. Off-site releases totaled 7,938,362 pounds. The combined total of on-site and off-site releases and disposal were reported as 62,345,344 pounds, according to the 2015 data.
  • In 2015, on-site releases decreased 7,177,201 pounds (11.7 percent) from 2014 reports, while off-site releases decreased 1,525,757 pounds (16.1 percent), and total reductions of 8,702,958 pounds were reported compared to the 2014 reporting year, which is a 12.2 percent decrease for total releases.
  • Total releases or disposal in Kentucky decreased 9,748,437 pounds over the last two reporting cycles (2014 and 2015). Total releases since the 2011 reporting year have decreased 21,258,342 which is a 25.4 percent decrease from 2011 reports.
  • On-site releases for the top ten chemicals in 2015 decreased to land (-8.6 percent), air (-22.3 percent) and surface water (-9.7 percent) compared to the 2014 reporting year.
  • Total releases for nine out of the top 10 facilities in Kentucky decreased from 2014 to 2015. Those 10 facilities were also the top ten facilities in 2015, and comprise 55 percent of releases from all Kentucky facilities that reported.
  • In 2015, air emissions from Kentucky electrical utilities decreased from 2014 values. Reported air emissions in 2015 are the lowest in 18 years of electrical utility reporting under the Toxic Release Inventory.
  • When compared to 2014 data, national trends showed a 21.3 percent decrease in on-site releases, 8.3 percent increase in off-site releases, and 17.3 percent decrease in total releases.

For more information on the Toxic Release Inventory, visit

For the 2015 DEP analysis, visit

For additional information on the Kentucky DEP Toxic Release Inventory Analysis for the 2015 Reporting Year, contact Larry Taylor at or by phone at (502) 782-6785.