Montreal, 13 July 2010-Taking Stock Online, released today by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, provides the latest integrated North American data and most comprehensive picture of industrial pollution across North America, documenting reported releases and transfers of 5.7 billion kilograms of toxic pollutants in 2006 from industrial facilities in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The North American picture is incomplete however, as a combination of national reporting exemptions for certain sectors and pollutants and incomplete reporting by some facilities reveal significant gaps in the portrait of how much pollution is generated and managed by North American industry.
“Regional cooperation on environmental issues depends on comparable and complete data from Canada, Mexico and the United States,” said Evan Lloyd, Executive Director of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. “This information is critical for governments, industry and citizens to address pollution and ensure healthy communities and ecosystems.”
Taking Stock Online, published today, presents the latest integrated data set from North America’s pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs) and features an integrated, multi-year database covering over 500 toxic substances and almost 100 major industrial sectors reporting to the PRTRs of Canada, Mexico and the United States. The site also features new tools to assist in data analysis, including a tool to explore data on pollutants transferred across national borders.
The CEC’s Taking Stock Online site is updated annually and allows users to:
Different reporting requirements reveal gaps
Top industrial sectors reporting releases and transfers in North America included metal mining and activities related to the oil and gas extraction sector; fossil-fuel power plants; chemicals manufacturing; and primary metals manufacturing. Reporting requirements vary by country for some sectors and pollutants, revealing important gaps in the tracking of industrial pollution at a North American level-for example:
Progress is being made by governments to close these gaps-such as removing exemptions for sectors and adding substances subject to PRTR reporting. For example, Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory removed the exemption for disposal of mining tailings and waste rock, which should result in an increase in reporting by Canadian mines next year. Considering the data reported in 2006 by US metal mines, this step is potentially significant for better understanding industries’ releases and handling of pollutants of particular concern. Metal mines in the states of Alaska, Nevada, Utah and Arizona, for example, reported releases to land-often in waste piles or uncovered areas-of millions of kilograms of heavy metals including lead and mercury compounds, both of which are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic pollutants.
Today’s release of online PRTR data and analytical tools will be complemented with further analyses and information in the CEC’s Taking Stock report to be released later this year. It will feature a special analysis of North American industrial pollutant releases to water, with a more detailed look at the sources and amounts as well as their potential impacts on the environment. Last year’s Taking Stock report provided an in-depth look at pollutant reporting from North American’s petroleum industry.
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was established in 1994 by the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States through the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, a parallel environmental agreement to NAFTA. As of 2020, the CEC is recognized and maintained by the Environmental Cooperation Agreement, in parallel with the new Free Trade Agreement of North America. The CEC brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public, Indigenous people, youth, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and the business sector, to seek solutions to protect North America’s shared environment while supporting sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations
The CEC is governed and funded equally by the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Government of the United States of Mexico through the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, and the Government of the United States of America through the Environmental Protection Agency.