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Online release of North American industrial pollution data reveals significant reporting gaps
Date:7/13/2010

ed annually and allows users to:

  • Explore information on industrial pollutant releases and transfers;
  • Generate reports in a variety of formats including pie charts and spreadsheets;
  • Create maps and view them using Google Earth;
  • Analyze PRTR data with respect to other information such as watersheds, rivers and lakes, and population centers using geospatial data from the North American Environmental Atlas.

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:

  • The oil and gas extraction sector is exempt from reporting under the US Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), as is hydrogen sulfide (the pollutant reported in largest proportions by this same sector in Canada). In Mexico, the reporting threshold for this pollutant is lower than in Canada and the United States, but zero hydrogen sulfide emissions were reported by the oil and gas extraction sector in 2006.
  • Some of the toxic pollutants reported in the greatest volume in Canada and the United States, such as carbon disulfide, zinc compounds, methanol, and hydrochloric acid, are exempt from the Mexican reporting system (RETC). As a result, once these pollutants are transferred across the border-for example when zinc is transferred from the United States to Mexico for disposal or recycling-they cannot be tracked.
  • Data for the public wastewater treatment sector offer a clear example of inconsistencies among national reporting requirements, and under-reportin
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Contact: Eduardo Viadas
eviadas@cec.org
514-350-4331
Commission for Environmental Cooperation
Source:Eurekalert

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