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Release of toxins were highest in Pacific Northwest in 2010

POULSBO — The Environmental Protection Agency recently released its annual Toxics Release Inventory report, showing what toxic chemicals were released in Washington in 2010. The report shows that toxic releases rose 16 percent across the nation between 2009 and 2010, and Region 10 — which includes Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Oregon — had the highest release.

This, however, does not mean that residents are ingesting more toxic chemicals than in the past.

“The tricky thing about TRI is, the data is a good indicator of the amount of chemicals released in the community, but it doesn’t measure exposure,” said Kelly Huynh, EPA TRI Unit manager for Region 10.

She said it is difficult to pick out the reasons why there have been an increase, but a definite indicator is an “uptick in the economy” — facilities increasing their production. She said some facilities may have also made changes to how they recycle or dispose of waste, such as burning it (and releasing fumes) rather than using a landfill.

A TRI “release” is the amount of a toxic chemical released on-site — to air, water, underground injection, landfills, and other land disposal — and the amount transferred off-site for disposal, according to the report.

The EPA does keep track of Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) chemicals, which “persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in food chains, posing risks to human health and ecosystems,” according to the report.

In Washington, 4.6 million pounds of total releases of PBT chemicals were reported in 2010. This is an increase of three million pounds, or 155 percent. Lead and lead compounds topped the list in 2010. Naval Base Kitsap, including Bremerton shipyard, is in the top 10 facilities list in the state for PBT chemicals, releasing 27,578 pounds in 2010.

The top five TRI releases by industry in the Pacific Northwest include metal mining, chemical manufacturing, hazardous waste, paper manufacturing and primary metal manufacturing.

The top five released chemicals include zinc compounds, lead compounds, manganese compounds, vanadium compounds and lead.

A complete list of the facilities and chemicals can be found at www.epa.gov/region10/tri/2010data.html

In a separate report, the EPA settled with Naval Base Kitsap for $161,000 for failing to monitor underground fuel tanks for leaks on its Silverdale property. According to the EPA, the Navy has 53 underground tanks ranging in size from 170 to 45,000 gallons. Diesel, gas and used oil are stored there.

Violations occurred between 2006 and 2010 on 37 occasions for failing to provide proper leak detection, and failing to provide alarms that prevent delivery drivers from overfilling the tanks.

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