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State Toxic Releases Continue Downward Trend

The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection has finished analyzing data of all the toxic chemicals that were released in the state in 2011.Since 1986, companies have been required to report the number of pounds of toxic chemicals they release into the air, into water and on land, and there’s been a definite downward trend in Kentucky as new regulations go on the books. More than 83 million pounds of toxics were disposed in Kentucky in 2011—about 13 million pounds less than in the previous year.But progress has been slower over the past five years, and most of the top ten chemicals released into the air, on land and into surface water have stayed at steady levels.Larry Taylor is an environmental scientist with the DEP. He says as technology improves, it’s hoped the trends will continue to go down.“As new regulations come online there’s obviously going to be changes in those trends,” he said. “There may be some fluctuations, there may be increases based on changes in the economy. Hopefully that would be offset by changes in pollution control as well.”Kentucky still has the 14th most toxic emissions nationwide—and the third most in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4. Carroll County has the most toxic releases of any county in the state, even though the county only has seven facilities that reported to the TRI. They’re all big industries, like aluminum smelters and power plants. Jefferson County was ranked second, with 71 facilities reporting. To read the full report, go here.