The Environmental Protection Agency today released its Toxic Release Inventory, the most authoritative accounting of toxic chemicals put into the air, water and land of the United States.
What follows is a list of the facilities that polluted the most, by weight. Be cautioned, however. That doesn't mean that these are necessarily the facilities that pose the greatest health or environmental risks. Some contaminants are dangerous at exceedingly low levels, and the method and location of disposal can have a lot to do with the impact of the pollution.
The Toxic Release Inventory is the best tool for local watchdogs to track pollution from local facilities, which are most likely to have an impact locally. Use this list to whet your appetite, then go to the TRI Explorer, and search for facilities that are present in your county (and don't forget those upwind).
That process is exactly what Congress intended when it mandated the creation of the Toxic Release Inventory. Armed with knowledge, citizens have pressured companies (and government-run facilities) to reduce their pollution dramatically. The inventory isn't a perfect accounting (many of the numbers are estimates based on the chemicals used, hours of operation and pollution control technologies employed; the most recent data available is for 2006).
But it's the best information available. Use it.
615.3 Million: Red Dog Operations: Kotzebue, Northwest Arctic County, Alaska
102.5 Million: Kennecott Utah Copper Mine Concentration & Power Plant: Copperton, Salt Lake County, Utah
59.5 Million: Phelps Dodge Miami Inc.: Claypool, Gila County, Ariz.
56.9 Million: Newmont Mining Corp. Twin Creeks Mine: Golconda, Humbolt County, Nev.
53.3 Million: Envirosafe Service of Ohio: Oregon, Lucas County, Ohio
48.6 Million: Barrick Goldstrike Mine Inc.: Elko, Nev.
44.5 Million: Kennecott Greens Creek Mining Co.: Juneau, Alaska
33.6 Million: Nucor Steel: Crawfordville, Montgomery County, Ind.
31.3 Million: U.S. Ecology Idaho: Grand View, Owyhee County, Idaho
30.6 Million: Solutia Inc.: Cantonment, Enscambia County, Flor.
28.4 Million: Newmont Mining Corp.: Carlin, Eureka County, Nev.
27.3 Million: AK Steel Corp. (Rockport Works): Rockport, Spencer County, Ind.
26.9 Million: Buick Mine/ Mill: Boss, Iron County, Mont.
25.4 Million: Mittal Steel USA Inc. Indiana: East Chicago, Lake County, Ind.
25.1 Million: Newmont Mining Corp Lone Tree Mine: Valmy, Humbolt County, Nev.
24.6 Million: Zinifex Clarksville Inc.: Clarksville, Montgomery County, Tenn.
24.0 Million: Steel Dynamics Inc.: Butler, De Kalb County, Ind.
23.0 Million: Solutia Chocolage Bayou: Alvin, Brazoria County, Tex.
22.1 Million: Bowen Steam Electric Generating Plant: Cartersville, Barton County, Ga.
22.0 Million: American Electric Power Amos Plant: Winfield, Putnam County, W. Va.
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