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New Delhi, May 2 – The North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) on Tuesday released a new report compiling and analyzing data reported by approximately 24,000 industrial facilities in Canada, Mexico and the US to their respective national pollutant release and transfer registers.
The report reveals important gaps in the reporting and tracking of transfers to disposal across the region due to differing reporting requirements, shared responsibilities across agencies and jurisdictions, and the lack of information about the fate of waste pollutants when they are transferred to third parties (such as waste management service providers) or across national borders.
The report also provides insights about the challenges facing facilities relative to implementing pollution prevention and sustainable production practices and offers examples of alternatives to the generation and disposal of industrial waste.
Since 1995, the CEC has worked with governments, industry, civil society and academia through the North American Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) Initiative to promote and enhance access to comparable and complete PRTR data for the region to support decisions about pollution prevention and sustainability.
In parallel with the release of the 16th edition of Taking Stock, the CEC has launched the enhanced Taking Stock Online web portal featuring a searchable database and tools that allow researchers, decision-makers and the general public to explore the latest integrated North American PRTR data.
“In the spirit of the public’s right-to-know, Taking Stock presents and analyses data on industrial pollutant releases and transfers to inform decisions about preventing pollution and advancing environmental justice by reducing the risk of exposure to contaminants of vulnerable communities,” said Jorge Daniel Taillant, CEC Executive Director.
“This report sheds light on important data gaps across North America that stem from differing national reporting requirements and from the transfer of responsibility for waste pollutants after they leave the source facility.
“These gaps in information about the quantities and management of substances can, for example, constrain our ability to respond to extreme events and disasters, such as floods, that risk re-mobilizing pollutants from disposal sites and contaminated soils. In the context of climate change, we must re-evaluate the abusiness as usual’ approach to the use of pollutants and the generation of hazardous waste.”
Almost 24,000 industrial facilities across North America reported more than 5 billion kg in pollutant releases and transfers each year.
Together, about 15 industry sectors accounted for 80 per cent of the reported annual totals — including metal ore mining, iron and steel mills/ferroalloy manufacturing, basic chemicals manufacturing, oil and gas extraction, and waste management.
Similarly, of the more than 500 pollutants reported, approximately 20 accounted for 88 per cent of annual releases and transfers.
Just five of them, zinc, manganese, lead, and copper compounds, along with nitric acid and nitrate compounds, together accounted for about 45 per cent of the total.