EPA confirms toxic emissions drop in P.R., up for USVI
Toxic emissions in Puerto Rico were 15 percent lower in 2010 versus the prior year, but higher in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the 25th edition of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory report.
The document covers 115 Puerto Rico and four USVI facilities that are required to report their releases to the EPA. The favorable local results were attributed to two main developments: the merger of Schering Plough in Las Piedras with Merck, which produced a decrease in air emissions; and the fact that the former Caribbean Petroleum Co. in Bayamón is no longer reporting to the TRI program due to the closure of this facility.
“Transparency is a powerful tool,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The Toxics Release Inventory allows the public and policymakers to better understand the pollutants released to our air, water and land each year and gives them the information they need to take action in their communities.”
“The data that was released is a reminder of how important TRI has been in helping us create a healthier environment, and the work still needed to be done to reduce industrial pollution,” she said.
Meanwhile, the EPA report also noted that total toxic chemicals released to the land, air and water by industrial facilities in the USVI — increased air emissions from the Virgin Islands Water & Power Authority’s St. Thomas facility and an increase in air and water emissions from Hovensa — increased pollution levels between 2009 and 2010.
The TRI was first published in 1986 and has been provided to the public annually to inform about the chemicals present in their local environment and gauge environmental trends over time, the EPA said. Facilities must report their toxic chemical releases by July 1 of each year.