The amount of reported toxic chemicals released in the Virgin Islands air were up in 2010 over 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a news release about the annual Toxics Release Inventory. The increase in part came from St. Croix’s Hovensa refinery and the V.I. Water and Power Authority’s St. Thomas plant.
WAPA’s St. Thomas facility recorded a huge increase in reported emissions in 2010, 29,812 pounds of emissions from all reported sources compared to 713 pounds of emissions in 2009. However, Nora Lopez, EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory Coordinator said that WAPA only has to report the amount of sulfuric acid released in the emissions when it reached a threshold of 25,000 pounds a year. In 2009, Lopez said it did not meet that threshold so did not include the amount of sulfuric acid in the totals.
In 2010, the amount of sulfuric acid stands at 29,027 pounds of the total 29,812 pounds of release, which makes up the bulk of what WAPA’s St. Thomas facility sent into the air, land and water.
“The explanation was they used more oil to generate more electricity,” EPA spokesman Elias Rodriquez said of the WAPA increase.
WAPA spokesman Cassandra Dunn said WAPA did use more fuel in 2010. “It’s no secret our plant is not running as efficiently as it is now,” she said.
Lopez pointed out that all the chemicals, not just sulfuric acid, listed in the annual reports have thresholds where reporting starts.
Hovensa’s increase was small compared to WAPA’s St. Thomas facility. In 2010, Hovensa had 729,453 pounds of all emissions, up from 664,028 pounds in 2009.
Hovensa spokesman David Roznowski said the number fluctuates from year to year depending on several factors.
“Waste disposal, catalyst life, if we’ve done any projects,” he said, ticking off some of the reasons.
The EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory report covers four facilities across the territory that are required to report their releases to EPA. They are Hovensa, WAPA’s St. Thomas plant, WAPA’s St. Croix facility, and Bulk Cargo Facility at St. Thomas’ Cyril E. King Airport. WAPA’s St. Croix plant had only 449 pounds of reported emissions in 2010 and 448 pounds in 2009. The Bulk Cargo Facility had 3,360 pounds of reported emissions in 2010 and 3,306 pounds in 2009. Both are below the reporting threshold.
“Transparency is a powerful tool,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said in a press release. “The Toxics Release Inventory allows the public and policymakers to better understand the pollutants released to our air, water and land each year and gives them the information they need to take action in their communities. The data that was released is a reminder of how important the Toxic Release Inventory has been in helping us create a healthier environment, and the work still needed to be done to reduce industrial pollution.”
According to the press release, last year marked the 25th anniversary of the Toxics Release Inventory. Since its enactment in 1986, Toxics Release Inventory data has been provided to the public annually to inform the public about the chemicals present in their local environment and gauge environmental trends over time.
Facilities must report their toxic chemical releases by July 1 of each year. EPA made a preliminary set of data for 2010 available in July 2011, the month the reported data was collected. Nationally, over 20,000 facilities reported on approximately 650 chemicals for calendar year 2010.
EPA has improved this year’s Toxics Release Inventory national analysis report by adding new information on risks, facility efforts to reduce pollution and details about how possible economic impacts could affect Toxics Release Inventory data. With this report and EPA’s Web-based Toxics Release Inventory tools, the public can access information about the disposals and releases of toxic chemicals into the air, water, and land that occur in their communities. Finally, EPA’s first mobile Web application for accessing Toxics Release Inventory data, myRTK, is now available in English and Spanish, as are expanded Spanish translations of national analysis documents and Web pages.