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Tracking Toxics

North Carolina production facilities are creating over half a billion pounds of toxic waste a year, according to data from the national Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) for 2018 (the last year for which complete reporting data was available).

In North Carolina that year, there were 779 facilities (manufacturing plants, utilities, mines, and the like) which produced enough waste to trigger the TRI reporting requirements. TRI is one of the most important public information databases made available by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pursuant to federal law. Under the Obama Administration, this information was made available through a user-friendly, searchable online site.

By the way, the North Carolina numbers are even more eyebrow-raising when you realize that they don’t yet include information on many so-called emerging pollutants like GenX and other PFAS. Even without those, our state is one of the heaviest producers of toxic waste in the nation.Thanks to NC Policy Watch’s environmental reporter Lisa Sorg for her handy look at the 2018 North Carolina numbers, as well as a quick primer on how to use the TRI’s online search functions to see what’s happening in your own county.

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