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|
|Element||Air Releases (lbs)||Land Releases (lbs)||Water Releases (lbs)||Off-Site Transfers (lbs)||Total Releases (lbs)|
|Clhlorine in Water||0||0||0||0||0|
|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.