BY DENNIS LIEN
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
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.