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Great Lakes Article:

Pollution from manufacturing declines

Article courtesy of St. PaulPioneer Press
December 15, 2001

Minnesota's largest manufacturing plants improved their environmental performance again last year, slightly reducing the volume of chemicals released into the air and water and slightly increasing the volume that was treated or transferred elsewhere.

The improvements were noted in the annual Right-to-Know Chemical Information Report prepared by the Minnesota Emergency Response Commission.

While the emissions represent a significant portion of the chemicals released into the environment each year in Minnesota, they do not provide a complete picture. Only companies that use more than a specific amount of any of about 600 chemicals and have 10 or more employees are required to provide such information to the state.

The commission listed 400 facilities that handled 344 million pounds of chemicals last year. They released 33 million pounds of chemicals into the environment compared with 32 million pounds in 1998 and 1999.

However, the volume of pollutants released into the air, water and land actually declined, while the volume of chemicals treated at wastewater treatment plants or transferred to other sites increased. That trend reflects a pattern evident since the late 1980s.

For the first time, two persistently toxic chemicals, mercury and dioxin, were included in the report. Xcel Energy's Sherco power plant in Sherburne County was the leading mercury emitter, with 990 pounds.

Steve Tomlyanovich, a pollution control specialist for the commission, said the report provides the public with information about pollution releases so it can work with private industry to achieve environmental improvements.

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