[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 13-Jul-2010
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Contact: Eduardo Viadas
eviadas@cec.org
514-350-4331
Commission for Environmental Cooperation

Online release of North American industrial pollution data reveals significant reporting gaps

This release is available in Spanish and French.

Montreal, 13 July 2010Taking Stock Online, released today by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, provides the latest integrated North American data and most comprehensive picture of industrial pollution across North America, documenting reported releases and transfers of 5.7 billion kilograms of toxic pollutants in 2006 from industrial facilities in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

The North American picture is incomplete however, as a combination of national reporting exemptions for certain sectors and pollutants and incomplete reporting by some facilities reveal significant gaps in the portrait of how much pollution is generated and managed by North American industry.

"Regional cooperation on environmental issues depends on comparable and complete data from Canada, Mexico and the United States," said Evan Lloyd, Executive Director of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. "This information is critical for governments, industry and citizens to address pollution and ensure healthy communities and ecosystems."

Taking Stock Online, published today, presents the latest integrated data set from North America's pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs) and features an integrated, multi-year database covering over 500 toxic substances and almost 100 major industrial sectors reporting to the PRTRs of Canada, Mexico and the United States. The site also features new tools to assist in data analysis, including a tool to explore data on pollutants transferred across national borders.

The CEC's Taking Stock Online site is updated annually and allows users to:

Different reporting requirements reveal gaps

Top industrial sectors reporting releases and transfers in North America included metal mining and activities related to the oil and gas extraction sector; fossil-fuel power plants; chemicals manufacturing; and primary metals manufacturing. Reporting requirements vary by country for some sectors and pollutants, revealing important gaps in the tracking of industrial pollution at a North American level-for example:

Progress is being made by governments to close these gaps-such as removing exemptions for sectors and adding substances subject to PRTR reporting. For example, Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory removed the exemption for disposal of mining tailings and waste rock, which should result in an increase in reporting by Canadian mines next year. Considering the data reported in 2006 by US metal mines, this step is potentially significant for better understanding industries' releases and handling of pollutants of particular concern. Metal mines in the states of Alaska, Nevada, Utah and Arizona, for example, reported releases to land-often in waste piles or uncovered areas-of millions of kilograms of heavy metals including lead and mercury compounds, both of which are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic pollutants.

Today's release of online PRTR data and analytical tools will be complemented with further analyses and information in the CEC's Taking Stock report to be released later this year. It will feature a special analysis of North American industrial pollutant releases to water, with a more detailed look at the sources and amounts as well as their potential impacts on the environment. Last year's Taking Stock report provided an in-depth look at pollutant reporting from North American's petroleum industry.

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About Taking Stock Online

Each year the Commission for Environmental Cooperation publishes Taking Stock, which compiles data from the three pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs) in North America: Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), Mexico's Registro de Emisiones y Transferencia de Contaminantes (RETC), and the US Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Taking Stock Online includes a full-featured database search tool, highlights and information about the data, and links to previous reports and related information. Explore the data now at: www.cec.org/takingstock

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is an international organization created under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) by Canada, Mexico and the United States to address regional environmental concerns, help prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts and promote the effective enforcement of environmental law. NAAEC complements the environmental provisions established in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to which it is a side accord.



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