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Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Chemical Releases in Washington
In 2015, PBTs accounted for 14% of total TRI releases in Washington, much lower than in 2014 (20%). These PBTs primarily come from metal mining, military operations, and cleanup activities at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site.
The largest on-site releases of PBT chemicals by weight were lead and lead compounds. The majority (nearly 3.7 million pounds) were placed into landfills, mostly from cleanup activities at the Hanford site. Military training operations account for most of the remaining land releases due to the lead bullets left on or in the ground.
Comparing PBT and Non-PBT Chemicals in Washington's TRI, 2015 (in Pounds)
PBT Chemicals Reported in Washington, 2015 (in pounds)
*Publicly Owned Treatment Works, metals only.
Some release values are zero, even though a facility reported. This is because some facilities are required to report, even when they have no releases.
The amount of PBT releases might vary from year to year, but PBT chemicals bioaccumulate and do not break down. The impacts from these chemicals often increase over time, though exposure depends on where releases occur.
The majority of PBT releases are to land, and of these, most are placed into landfills. Military training operations occur on federal lands where public access is limited. Mining operations that leave PBT chemicals (such as lead) on the land in the form of mine tailings are usually in areas with low populations, limiting exposure.
These chemicals persist in humans and the environment, so even small amounts are a concern. More businesses are looking for safer alternatives to PBTs and other toxics, and many are making progress. For example:
*Publicly Owned Treatment Works
In Washington, dioxin releases come from the manufacture of wood and paper products (64 percent), petroleum refineries (16 percent), hazardous waste treatment and disposal (10 percent), coal-fired power generation (8 percent), and the manufacture of cement and concrete products (2 percent).
Most dioxins are not produced on purpose. They are created when other chemicals or products are made. Pulp and paper production makes dioxins in the process that bleaches wood pulp. Dioxins are also produced when products are burned, such as when metals are smelted, hazardous waste is incinerated, or when coal is burned to generate electricity.
Overall, dioxin releases are at their lowest levels since 2003. In 2015, 22 facilities released a total of 22.9 grams of dioxins to air, land, and water in Washington State, a 37-percent decrease from 2014. Two facilities, Boise White Paper, LLC and Weyerhaeuser Natural Resources Company, contributed to this decrease by both reducing their releases of dioxins by 47 percent from the previous year. Most of Weyerhaeuser's releases were to water, while Boise's releases were mostly to land.
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