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COMMISSION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION

THREE COUNTRIES WORKING TOGETHER TO PROTECT OUR SHARED ENVIRONMENT


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Overview of Taking Stock 2009 data

In 2009, North American facilities reported a total of 4,920,712,664 kg in releases and transfers of pollutants to their respective PRTRs.

Taking Stock is based on data reported by facilities in North America to the Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs) of Canada, Mexico and the United States. Each country’s PRTR has unique requirements relative to the sectors and pollutants subject to reporting that affect the North American picture of industrial pollution.

Readers are reminded that PRTR data do not provide information about the environmental fate or risks from pollutants released or transferred, nor levels of exposure of human or ecological populations to the pollutants. Assessing the potential harm from releases of a pollutant to the environment is a complex task requiring additional information about factors such as a pollutant’s inherent toxicity, the nature of the exposure, and so on. For more information, please see Using and Understanding Taking Stock.

Reported Releases and Transfers, North America, 2009

2009

Canada
NPRI**

Mexico
RETC**

United States
TRI

North American
PRTRs

Facilities reporting > 0 kg (of all reporting facilities)*

2,607
(2,688)

1,509
(1,540)

18,149
(21,020)

22,265
(25,248)

No. of pollutants reported (of all pollutants subject to reporting in that country)***

186
(of 347)

61
(of 104)

425
(of 623)

476 (42 reported pollutants are common to the three PRTRs)

Total Releases and Transfers, 2009

2,224,152,538 kg

42,136,871 kg

2,654,423,255 kg

4,920,712,664 kg

* Includes facilities reporting total releases and transfers of at least .0001 kg.

**This table excludes approximately 5,700 Canadian facilities that reported releases of criteria air contaminants (CACs), exclusively; and almost 800 Mexican facilities that reported releases of greenhouse gases (GHGs), exclusively. CACs and GHGs are not subject to reporting under the US TRI program. For more information, please see: CAC/GHG.

*** The numbers of reported pollutants include certain pollutants that have been grouped in Taking Stock for purposes of comparability among the countries (e.g., arsenic and its compounds; xylene isomers).

 

In 2009, a total of 25,248 facilities reported across North America. This number includes facilities that, in order to comply with national reporting requirements, reported 0 kg (indicating that they did not have any release or transfer of a given pollutant over the required reporting threshold, or that the amounts were too small to be quantifiable). Therefore, the number of facilities reporting the total amount of releases and transfers shown in the table above was 22,265. In all, facilities submitted reports for 517 pollutants (or pollutant groups), with 476 of these pollutants reported in amounts of > 0 kg, thus accounting for the total releases and transfers indicated.

The data covered in Taking Stock include all reported releases and transfers, with the exception of Canadian facilities reporting only emissions of criteria air contaminants (CACs) to the NPRI, and Mexican facilities reporting only greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the RETC. When these facilities are included, the total number of facilities reporting across North America is 31,603. The data for releases of CACs and GHGs can be consulted on the NPRI and RETC websites at:

CACs and GHGs are not subject to reporting under the US TRI; however, facilityspecific data for these groups of pollutants are available in all three countries (please see: CAC/GHG). The dataset analyzed in the previous version of Taking Stock was for the 2006 reporting year (the latest available data from all three countries at the time of writing). Since then, the North American PRTR programs have achieved comparable data publication schedules and the CEC has thus integrated three additional years of data, through 2009. The following table provides a brief summary of North American PRTR reporting from 2006 through 2009.

Summary of North American PRTR reporting, 2006-2009*

Country

Total Releases and Transfers, 2009

Total Releases and Transfers, 2008

Total Releases and Transfers, 2007

Total Releases and Transfers, 2006

Canada (kg)

2,224,152,538 kg

2,565,447,865 kg

2,356,883,396 kg

2,161,504,082 kg

Number of facilities reporting over 0 kg

2,607

2,777

2,891

2,912

Mexico (kg)

42,136,871 kg

46,330,373 kg

26,783,071 kg

27,961,007 kg

 

Number of facilities reporting over 0 kg

1,509

1,360

1,621

1,790

United States (kg)

2,654,423,255 kg

3,125,537,862 kg

3,369,860,851 kg

3,534,992,539 kg

Number of facilities reporting over 0 kg

18,149

19,319

19,617

20,054

 

North America (kg)

4,920,712,664 kg

5,737,316,100 kg

5,753,527,318 kg

5,724,457,628 kg

 

Number of facilities reporting over 0 kg

22,265

23,456

24,129

24,756

The above table shows a relatively steady decline over the four-year period in the number of facilities reporting to the three PRTRs (in amounts greater than 0 kg – i.e., accounting for the total releases and transfers reported). Changes in releases and transfers from year to year can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • economic factors (e.g., facilities increasing or decreasing production, or closing); 
  • facilities newly meeting (or, no longer meeting) PRTR reporting requirements, such as pollutant or employee thresholds); 
  • pollution prevention or mitigation activities;  non-compliance with reporting requirements; 
  • changes in the methodologies used to calculate or estimate emissions.

For more information see Using and Understanding Taking Stock.

In the next Taking Stock report, the special feature chapter will provide detailed analyses of changes in reported releases and transfers across North America over a five-year period, based on the most recent available PRTR data from the three countries.