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My Watershed

Releases to Air, Land, and Water

On-site releases in the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) are reported by where they were released: to air, land, or water.

Releases to air are classified as either fugitive or stack. Fugitive releases (or non-point source emissions) include evaporative losses, leaks, and releases from building ventilation systems. Stack releases (or point source emissions) come from known points such as stacks, confined vents, ducts, pipes, or other confined air streams. Stack releases also include releases from air pollution control equipment and storage tank emissions.

Releases to water are discharges to streams or water bodies. These include process outfalls, such as pipes and open trenches, releases from on-site wastewater treatment systems, and stormwater runoff.

Releases to land include disposal to landfills, land treatment, surface impoundment, underground injection (not allowed in Washington State), and other disposal methods. Land treatment is a disposal method — when a waste that contains a TRI chemical is applied onto or mixed into soil.


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Compared to 2014, on-site releases increased by four million pounds (23.1 percent). Releases to water remained nearly unchanged, air releases dropped slightly (4.5 percent), and land releases jumped up by 74.5%. Three more facilities reported in 2015.

TRI Releases in Washington, 2014 Compared to 2015 (in pounds)

Type of Release
2014
2015
Percent Change
Change in Pounds
On-site Release
17,783,539
21,891,077
23.1% ↑
4,107,538↑
Air
9,506,745
9,076,248
4.5% ↓
430,497↓
Land
6,063,017
10,578,661
74.5%
4,515,644↑
Water
2,213,777
2,236,168
1.0%
22,391
POTW* Disposal
713
376
47.3% ↓
337↓
Off-site Disposal
3,769,663
4,443,709
17.9% ↑
674,046↑
Total
21,553,914
26,335,162
22.2% ↑
4,781,248↑

*Publicly Owned Treatment Works.

Large releases at specific facilities had significant impacts on Washington’s total TRI numbers:

  • The Pend Oreille Mine reported large amounts of on-site releases from 2004 to 2009. As production at the mine decreased, so did Washington's total land releases. The mine stopped operating in early 2009, but reopened in December, 2014. The mine released 19,231 pounds of TRI chemicals in 2014, and 148,508 pounds in 2015, an increase of 672%

  • Cleanup activities at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hanford site in 2010 increased the amount of TRI chemicals released to land by nearly 3 million pounds. As Hanford removed old buildings, it also removed the lead that these buildings contained for radiation shielding. DOE disposed of this lead in a landfill, which is considered a release to land under TRI. In 2014, Hanford’s releases to land accounted for 62% of Washington’s total land releases. In 2015, they were 88 percent. Hanford will likely report lead releases to land for as long as cleanup activities continue.