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Great Lakes Article:

Great Lakes region and Texas are worst polluters in United States and Canada, study shows

By Tom Cohen, Associated Press, 5/30/2002 07:54

TORONTO (AP) The biggest polluters in the United States and Canada are Texas, Ohio, Ontario, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana, a new study shows.

The summary of North American pollution, issued Wednesday by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation set up under the North American Free Trade Agreement, looks at overall pollution in 1999 compared to the previous five years.

The top six polluting states and provinces, all of them except Texas in the Great Lakes region, accounted for 35 percent of the total pollution releases, according to the study.

Sixteen of the top 50 polluting facilities were located in the Great Lakes region.

The report shows industrial pollution released into the North American environment has decreased slightly in recent years, but producers send more of it to landfills and other off-site facilities.

Janine Ferretti, executive director of the commission, called the 3 percent decrease overall ''nothing to get too excited about'' because of increases in some kinds of pollution and the larger amounts that producers send away.

''It looks like we're just redirecting it,'' she said.

While there was a decrease in air pollution, by far the largest kind of pollution in North America, the amounts released into the water and ground or sent to landfills all increased, Ferretti said.

The summary covers most industry in Canada and the United States, with Mexican companies only starting to report figures. Some major industries, such as electricity utilities, only became part of the report in 1998.

In 1999, the total amount of pollution released or transferred elsewhere was 3.4 million tons, with 1.7 million tons released into the air, water and ground, the study said. More than 1 million tons went to recycling, and the rest was sent away for treatment, energy recovery or disposal, it said.

Ferretti noted a 3 percent decline in the amount of cancer-causing chemicals released over the 1995-99 period, half the 6 percent decline in all chemicals for the same period.

According to the study, the facilities with the largest amount of carcinogenic releases were the Kennecott Holdings Corp. copper smelter in Magna, Utah; an Elementis Inc. chromium facility in Corpus Christi, Texas; Chemical Waste Management of the Northwest Inc. in Arlington, Ore.; Occidental Chemical Corp. in Castle Hayne, N.C.; and a Monsanto facility in Luling, La.

Ferretti said the study makes no distinction for greenhouse gases, the target of emissions reductions demanded by the Kyoto Protocol. The U.S. government has rejected the 1997 Kyoto agreement as harmful to the economy, while Canada is undecided on whether to ratify it.

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