May 12, 2000
Estimate of Toxic Chemical Emissions Is Tripled
By WINNIE HU
ALBANY, May 11 -- The first national accounting of toxic chemical
emissions by electric power plants
and the mining industry has tripled
the estimated volume of those releases.
The report, which was compiled by
the federal Environmental Protection Agency, showed that in 1998
7.3 billion pounds of toxic chemicals
were reported released by eight industries, including coal mining,
chemical wholesalers and petroleum
The environmental agency said
metal mining had accounted for
nearly half of the discharges and
that power plants released 1.1 billion
pounds of toxic chemicals in 1998, or
about 15 percent of the total. The
previous year's report, which covered just manufacturing, showed 2.7
billion pounds of toxic emissions.
The report offers the first statistical look at not only the volume of
nationwide toxic chemical pollution
but also the extensive pollution that
has become of particular concern in
New York and other Eastern states
downwind of the nation's oldest and
dirtiest coal-burning power plants, in
the Midwest and South.
"Americans now will have the best
picture ever of the actual amounts of
toxic pollution being emitted by industry into local communities," said
Carol M. Browner, administrator of
the environmental agency.
The new data reflect releases in
1998, and agency officials urged that
the information be used as a guide,
not as an indicator of health risk,
because the report provides no information on exposure.
New York officials and environmentalists said today that the agency's findings would aid their efforts
to fight a growing pollution problem.
State Attorney General Eliot L.
Spitzer has already sued the owners
of 12 coal-fired plants in the Midwest,
asserting that they had not installed
federally required pollution controls.
"It's not news that they're polluting, but it is news to the extent that
they are polluting," said John F.
Sheehan, a spokesman for the Adirondack Council, an environmental
group that works to protect the
state's wilderness from acid rain and
The heaviest polluters were the 27
power plants in Ohio, which emitted
113.9 million pounds of toxic chemicals in 1998. In comparison, the 34
power plants in New York released
18.7 million pounds, and the 15 power
plants in New Jersey released 8 million pounds.