The Toxics Release Inventory that was released in December 2014 brings to light a spike in toxic pollution levels across the United States in 2013. For starters, the report reveals that industrial facilities released about 500 million more pounds of toxins into the surrounding environment. This translates into an increase of 14% from 2012 to 2013, the report shows. Experts have expressed concerns that this is the highest ever increase in the amount of toxins released in the environment in recent years.
Much of this increased release of toxic wastes could be attributed to the metal mining industry. Data gathered in 2013 shows that organizations reporting to the U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) released 0.5 million more pounds of toxic materials into the ground, water, and air as compared to 2012. This takes the annual total of toxin discharge to a whopping 4.1 billion pounds.
Of this, the metal mining industry alone was responsible for releasing 518 million pounds more in 2013 as against 2012. This is an increase of 35%. According to the data available in the report, other significant contributors to the discharge of toxic materials include electrical utilities, petroleum bulk terminals and chemicals manufacturing units.
On the brighter side, a few industries reported a decline in toxic material discharge – these include industries such as primary metals, hazardous waste, solvents recovery, and fabricated metals. But these declines were not significant enough to mitigate the increased toxic waste discharge from the aforementioned industries.
From the regional standpoint, Alaska was reported to have released the highest amount of toxic wastes in 2013, at 970 million pounds, a great part of which could be traced back to the metal mining industry that is very active here.
Experts that have analyzed the report expressed concerns over the direction in which industrial pollution in the United States is heading.