TRI Data

TRI Data

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was enacted by Congress in 1986 to help communities protect public health, safety, and the environment from chemical hazards. 

A provision of the act requires that the EPA maintain a database of information on the amount of chemicals used or produced by industry that are released into the air, land or water. The database is known as the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).

In 1997, the EPA expanded reporting to include electric utilities that use coal or oil to generate electricity. The first report was filed in June 1999 for 1998 releases. Of the more than 650 substances on the reporting list, about 20 are released or produced as a result of coal or oil combustion.

*Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that tracks the management of toxic chemicals by U.S. industrial facilities. TRI annually reports the amount and type of chemicals released to the environment and/or managed through recycling, energy recovery and treatment. 

Detail for Specific 2015 Reportable TRI Releases

Deail for Specific 2015 Reportable TRI Releases
ElementAir Releases (lbs)Land Releases (lbs)Water Releases (lbs)Off-Site Transfers (lbs)Total Releases (lbs)
Ammonia 1,197,302 25 7,279 0 1,204,606
Clhlorine in Water 0 0 0 0 0
Hydrochloric acid 5,830,001 NA NA NA 5,830,001
Hydrogen fluoride 505,313 NA NA NA 505,313
Sulfuric acid 3,493,300 NA NA NA 3,403,300
Arsenic Compounds 1,113 244,500 2,213 2 247,828
Barium Compounds 11,016 7,572,220 53,514 355,832 7,992,582
Beryllium Compounds 38 9,406 0 0 9,444
Chromium Compounds 2,626 369,410 4,463 52,796 429,295
Cobalt Compounds 449 101,738 88 0 102,275
Copper Compounds 2,269 391,084 41,487 0 434,840
Manganese Compounds 3,362 828,622 10,371 0 843,355
Mercury Compounds 2,104.1 1,690.1 5.9 695.0 4,495.1
Lead Compounds 1,947.7 191,354.0 909.0 17,194.2 211,404.9
Nickel Compounds 2,509 289,420 9,137 4,307 305,483
Selenium Compounds 3,700 8,340 576 0 12,616
Thallium Compounds 96 54,095 79 0 54,270
Vanadium Compounds 3,177 810,380 470 660 814,687
Zinc Compounds 20,801 451,020 6,031 2,584 480,436
Naphthalene 275 0 0 0 275
Dioxin and Dioxin-like Compounds* 3.5365 0 0 0 3.5365
Polycylic Aromatic Compounds 4 0 0 0 4
Total by Media (Reportable) 11,081,403 11,323,304 136,623 434,070
Total for All Media (Reportable) 22,975,400
*Dioxin estimates provided in grams.
Note: Chart updated July 2016

Putting Risk into Perspective

While the EPCRA requires reporting of releases—important information the public should have—these numbers by themselves do not represent risk factors. More on risk »

Many of the "releases" utilities report are actually kept on the plant site. On average, at Southern Company system plants, more than 95 percent of the substances classified as metals—such as nickel and zinc—are contained on-site. Additionally, on average, 25 percent of "total releases" are actually captured using control equipment and do not escape from our plant sites.

The vast majority of releases listed as "air releases" are the acid aerosols, which are dispersed gradually over time from our plants and often dissipate in the atmosphere within minutes or hours once they leave the stacks. At the highest concentrations, the acid aerosols are less than one part per billion, or one part of acid aerosol per billion parts of air. The majority of the other releases, which are classified as metals, are contained on our plant sites and are identified as "land or water releases." Of the metals that are released into the air—also done so gradually over time—the concentration is well below one part per trillion.

Southern Company continues to support ongoing air quality studies to determine what impact, if any, our plant emissions may be having on human health and the environment. Learn more at: