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TRI: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Toxics Release Inventory?
What is the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, or EPCRA?
What are TVA’s TRI reporting requirements?
How is TVA managing the TRI process?
Which chemicals are included in TVA’s TRI report?
How do I get data for TRI emissions at TVA fossil plants?

What is the Toxics Release Inventory?

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a database of information on 650 potentially toxic chemicals emitted by thousands of manufacturing industries and businesses and by fossil-fuel power plants (those that burn coal or oil). These facilties are all required to report annually on the chemicals released during their operations.

On July 1, 1999, utilities began reporting to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the amounts of chemicals that are released from power plants. These chemicals do not include sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides, which all fossil plants routinely emit and monitor. Although there are 650 chemicals on the list, TVA plants emit just 26 of them in sufficient quantity to require reporting.

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What is the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, or EPCRA?

Congress enacted the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA), Section 313, on October 17, 1986.

EPCRA is Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986. This legislation is sometimes referred to as SARA Title III, but more commonly as EPCRA.

The principal reason for the existence of EPCRA is to provide citizens with information on the manufacture, use, and environmental release of potentially toxic chemicals in their communities.

Through EPCRA, Congress mandated that the TRI data be made public. EPA considers the Toxics Release Inventory a public “report card” for industrial facilities.

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What are TRI’s reporting requirements?

Initially, the requirements of EPCRA’s Section 313 applied only to facilities in the traditional manufacturing sector. On May 1, 1997, EPA announced that seven new industry groups had been added to the TRI reporting requirements, including electric utilities that burn coal or oil for the purpose of generating electricity for distribution.

Facilities covered by EPCRA, Section 313 must submit an annual report (called a Form R) to the EPA for each potentially toxic chemical that has been manufactured and exceeds a certain threshold amount.

All industrial facilities that meet the following criteria must file an annual TRI report:

  1. Those classified in certain Standard Industrial Codes as determined by the EPA.
  2. Those that have 10 or more full-time employees.
  3. Those that manufacture or process more than 25,000 pounds per year or use more than 10,000 pounds per year of at least one of the 650 chemical substances listed in EPCRA.

The May 1997 revision adds 6,100 new facilities to those reporting potentially toxic releases in communities nationwide, for a total of 31,000 facilities.

That number includes TVA’s 11 fossil plants, which have 59 coal-burning units. Four plant sites also have 56 natural gas/diesel combustion-turbine generating units. Even though releases from natural gas plants are not part of the TRI regulation, if the combustion of natural gas occurs on the same site as that of coal or oil, then the releases from natural gas must be added to the others.

Some of the data that must be reported include the following:

  1. How much of each chemical was released and to what environmental media (air, land, or water)
  2. How much was disposed of, treated, recycled, or used for energy recovery
  3. What pollution prevention and chemical recycling activities were performed at each facility.

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Otherwise Use” Chemicals

Products containing TRI chemicals that are used at fossil plants for activities such as boiler cleaning, maintenance activities, and other functions to support the combustion process are termed “otherwise use” chemicals. These chemicals must also be reported under the TRI requirements. If 10,000 pounds or more of a chemical is used at a facility, this must be reported.

As a federal agency TVA must also report TRI releases from all of its operations, not just its fossil plants. Although the amounts are small, the emissions numbers TVA submits are comprehensive and include substances that might be used for cleaning or maintenance activities at any TVA facilities, including nuclear or hydro plants. Only federal facilities must include all of there operations other than just coal- or oil-burning plants. Private utilities are not covered under this requirement.

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How is TVA managing the TRI process?

TVA formed the TRI Strategy Team, made up of employees from many organizations, to develop a plan on how to monitor TRI data, report it accurately, and release understandable information to the public.

The work of this team allows TVA to submit TRI data from each of its fossil plants to EPA annually, provide information to the public on those releases, and continually perform health-risk assessments.

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Which chemicals are included in TVA’s TRI report?

Antimony compounds
Arsenic compounds
Barium compounds
Beryllium compounds
Chromium compounds
Cobalt compounds
Copper compounds
Elemental chromium
Elemental nickel
Hydrochloric acid (aerosol)
Hydrogen fluoride

Lead compounds
Manganese compounds
Nickel compounds
Polycyclic aromatic compounds (PAC)
Selenium compounds
Sulfuric acid (aerosol)
Thallium compounds
Zinc compounds

How do I get data for TRI emissions at TVA fossil plants?

Select from the Emissions Data menu at the top of the page.

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