Who pollutes? Check out Net for answers | NevadaAppeal.com

Who pollutes? Check out Net for answers

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

It’s intended to be a tool for local environmentalists, or a catalyst for a grass-roots movement, but the Right-To-Know Network database on chemicals released into Carson City’s environment may also be hard to understand for those who aren’t familiar with Environmental Protection Agency standards.

George Sorvalis, outreach associate for Right-To-Know, said Tuesday that although its environment information may be hard to decipher for some, if put in the right hands it can be a useful tool.

“A citizens group can form, and it can go and seek to make the changes,” he said. “They can find out what companies are polluting and petition for changes.”

The Washington, D.C.,-based Right-To-Know Network is a service provided by OMB Watch, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting government accountability and citizen participation in public policy decisions, according to its Web site. Web surfers can access the network and identify industries and their environmental effects.

For example, Dura-Bond Bearing Co. of Carson City reported to the Environmental Protection Agency that it released about 43 pounds of lead into the air in 2003, which is the most recent report. The company also recycled about 816,000 pounds of production-related waste at its Arrowhead Drive site, and transported another 67,000 pounds of production-related waste to a recycling site in Seattle.

The Web site doesn’t clarify if this meets EPA requirements, or how it compares to other factories of a similar size or function.

Recommended Stories For You

Scorecard, a Web site that also uses EPA data, contains extensive data on the health effects of pollutants, and also ranks counties based on how much pollution is released. It lists Dura-Bond as the lowest of Carson City’s top four polluters. It lists Taiyo America as No. 1 for releasing 1,300 pounds of pollution in 2002.

Bob McBroom, an engineer with Dura-Bond, said his company is way below the EPA’s mandate, and they’ve even slowed production in the last four years.

“We test for airborne lead emissions and the amount we release is minuscule,” he said. “We’re permitted to go higher.”

Grace Potorti, executive director of the Nevada Conservation League in Reno, said the inventory is a wonderful resource for change.

“It’s a tremendous asset for anyone living near a facility that may be releasing toxic material into the air, water or ground,” she said. “It’s an important tool that we worked hard to get.”

Potorti helped work on the legislation that would require the military to report pollutants it releases.

Other Carson City businesses are included in the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, including: Wyman Gordon Investment Casting Inc., for releasing chromium, cobalt and nickel; United Engine & Machine Co., for releasing copper; and Taiyo America Inc. for releasing certain glycol ethers.

Industries in Nevada have also reported a 12 percent decrease in the amount of toxic chemicals released into the air, land and water, according to the EPA. The data comes from the Toxics Release Inventory, which is an annual measure of toxic chemical releases, transfers and waste generated by U.S. industries.

“TRI continues to be a useful tool for states, counties and communities to know what types and amounts of chemicals are present in their neighborhoods,” said Wayne Nastri, EPA’s administrator for the Pacific Southwest Region. “This is good news for the Silver State, since we continue to see a downward trend in releases to Nevada’s land, air and water.”

The reporting of data to the inventory is required under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, passed in 1986.

None of Carson City industries made the top 10 list of Nevada’s highest polluters.

The EPA reported the three highest as: Newmont Mining Twin Creeks Mine in Humboldt County with 200.9 million pounds of pollution; Barrick Goldstrike Mines of Elko with 101.6 million pounds; U.S. Ecology Nevada Inc. of Beatty with 29.8 million pounds.

– Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

On the Net

To look up Carson City on the Right-To-Know Network, go to:

http://www.rtknet.org

To get an in-depth pollution report for the area, covering air, water and chemicals:

http://www.scorecard.org

Go back to article