Toxics Release Inventory
The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program is part of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA). EPCRA requires companies with 10 or more employees, in certain industries, to collect and publicly disclose information about how they manufacture, process or use any of nearly 650 chemicals on a special list developed by the U.S. EPA. Out of the 650 chemicals on the TRI list, AEP reported 25 in 2014.
Companies are required to report the amount of these chemicals they manufacture or process when that amount exceeds 25,000 pounds a year. For most chemicals that are simply used, such as chemicals purchased to clean a facility, the amount required to trigger a report is 10,000 pounds or more in a year. A few chemicals have much lower reporting thresholds. The U.S. EPA establishes these numbers. The report is not related in any way to health or environmental standards.
In general, coal-fired power plants need to report on very few of the chemicals on the U.S. EPA's list (between three and 20 chemicals on average). However, because of the nature of our industry and the amount of coal we consume, big coal-fired electric power plants will be listed at or near the top of rankings, when compared with other reporting industries, in terms of number of pounds reported by a single facility. Although the chemicals reported by AEP are released in large amounts, they generally rank low in toxicity.
What does this mean?
AEP wants you to know what the TRI numbers mean to you and your family. There are too many variables involved to easily determine the specific risk that each of the chemicals at power plants might pose to any individual. However, the U.S. EPA and the Electric Power Research Institute have studied releases by utilities and determined that most pose extremely low risk to public health and the environment.