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2010 Webinars

Welcome to the Spring 2010 TRI webinar: Using TRI to Support Environmental Justice Page!

The Environmental Council of the States and US Environmental Protection Agency recently held the the Spring 2010 TRI webinar: Using TRI to Support Environmental Justice. The purpose of the webinar was to share experiences and lessons learned using TRI to address environmental justice concerns and to build from those experiences by expanding TRI use among current and potential users who work on environmental justice issues.  This webinar was open to the public.

TopWebinar Video

 

http://chemicalright2know.org/files/2010-05-25-1002-webinar_001.flv

In order to view this webinar more clearly, press the full screen button on the lower, far right of the player.

Please let us know if you need accommodations due to a disability for accessing these resources.

 

TopTranscript

Using TRI to Support Environmental Justice Webinar Transcription

TopAgenda & Presentations

Working for Environmental Justice

  • Heather Case, U.S. EPA Office of Environmental Justice

TRI Background and Practical Demonstrations

TRI Program Update

Use of TRI to Address Community EJ Concerns

Using EPA’s Risk Screening Environmental Indicators to Support Environmental Justice

TopSpeaker Bios

View Webinar Presenter Bios

Michael Ash
Michael Ash (Ph.D., Economics, UC-Berkeley 1999) is associate professor of economics and public policy at UMass Amherst. His areas of expertise are labor, health, and environmental economics, examined primarily through quantitative models. Ash’s main interests in environmental policy include disclosure and right-to-know laws, greenhouse-gas policy, and environmental justice. At UMass, Ash co-directs the Corporate Toxics Information Project of the Political Economy Research Institute, which publishes the Toxic 100, an index that identifies the top U.S. toxic polluters among the world’s largest corporations. Ash served as staff labor economist for the Council of Economic Advisers (Washington, DC) in 1995-1996 and as Princeton Project 55 Fellow for the Trenton Office of Policy Studies (Trenton, NJ) in 1991-1992.

Heather Case 
Heather Anne Case is the Deputy Director of the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). During her 14-year EPA career, Heather has served as a Branch Chief in the Office Environmental Information where she guided work in the environmental indicator development and reporting, environmental health analysis, and analytical tool development. Heather was a leader in EPA’s Environmental Indicators Initiative and the development of the EPA Draft Report on the Environment 2003 (ROE). Heather also has extensive experience in the areas strategic planning, performance measurement, and the development and use of information technology to support organizational priorities. Prior to joining EPA in 1996, Heather supported toxicology and epidemiological research. Heather earned her Master of Public Health from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Public Health, and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Rutgers University. Heather graduated from the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business, earning a Master in Business Administration in May 2009.

Tony Davis
Tony Davis is a Senior Environmental Employee working in Compliance Assistance and Outreach in the TRI Program in Region 10 EPA in Seattle. He started work in September of 2009.

He spent the last 35 years working in public health and environmental programs in Idaho. His first 17 years were as an employee of the Environmental Health Division of the Panhandle Health District, a regional health department serving the five northern counties of Idaho. Working in the total Environmental Health Program soon evolved into a specialization in water quality protection issues. At this time the Health District became a contractor for the Idaho Division of Environmental Quality gathering data and summarizing problems related to ground and Lake Water degradation. These initial efforts in ground water planning later led to the formulation of the regulation of discharges into the Rathdrum Prairie / Spokane Valley aquifer. He was a part of this in that as a staff member of the planning team he did on the ground inventorying of small quantity sewage, storm water, commercial, and industrial discharges into the area lakes, streams and aquifers.

As Northern Idaho became more aware of the importance of protecting water quality the Legislature responded by creating the Clean Lakes Coordinating Council, a group of interested citizens appointed by the Governor and charged with creating water quality protection plans for the northern lakes. Tony was the first coordinator of this group who organized their meetings, formed their technical and profession advisory groups, and began writing their plans, completing two before jointing the staff of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) in 1990.

At DEQ Tony’s first assignment was investigation of ground water degradation incidents and first response to accidental hazmat spills as a first responder. When the Safe Drinking Water Program expanded in the early 1990 he became a member of the implementation staff. This assignment was chiefly inspections, writing and analyzing monitoring schedules based on system classifications, and finally helping to implement the SDWIS program in the regional offices of IDEQ. Tony retired as a Senior Analyst for IDEQ in June of 2007 and set out to see the world.

Mariela L. Lopez
Mariela Lopez has been with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 2002. She is currently a Program and Enforcement Officer in the Toxics Release Inventory Program at the U.S. EPA Region 9 in San Francisco. Mariela has worked with the TRI Program since 2006, prior to that she worked in EPA’s Pacific Islands Office.

Mariela earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley in 2006. Mariela is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Public Health from San Francisco State University.

Julia May
Julia is an engineer and has worked at Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) for 20 years on industrial pollution sources, emissions sources, pollution prevention options, and community impacts. She has worked extensively with community members who want to know about the local emissions from industrial facilities. She has focused her evaluations substantially on oil refinery air pollution sources, but has also spent much time on a variety of industrial facilities reporting to the TRI including metal finishers, foam manufacturers, printers, and many others. She was at CBE when TRI data first became available, when her CBE had only two computers for the entire organization using DOS commands (back in the old days!).

Rebecca Moser
Rebecca Moser is Acting Director of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program Division within EPA’s Office of Environmental Information. She is currently leading a number of efforts to enhance the TRI data and make it more useful and accessible to the public. During her 17-year Federal career, Rebecca has also served as Associate Director for the TRI Program Division, Chief of TRI’s Regulatory Development Branch, and Manager of the Exchange Network Grant Program. Rebecca has experience in strategic planning, budgetary development and execution, team leadership, information sensitivity issues, and guiding the use information technology to meet organizational business needs. Before coming to EPA, Rebecca worked for the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, within the U.S. Department of Commerce, where she was involved in a number of sustainable development and environmental indicator efforts. Rebecca holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Oberlin College and an M.S. degree in Biology, with a focus on Environmental Science and Public Policy, from George Mason University. She also completed the Chief Information Officer (CIO) Certificate Program at National Defense University/Information Resources Management College and the program, “Leadership for a Democratic Society,” at the Federal Executive Institute.

James L. Sadd
James L. Sadd, PhD is Professor of Environmental Science at Occidental College, Los Angeles, California. He earned his doctorate in geology at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. His research focuses on evaluating questions related to environmental exposure, health risk, and environmental justice primarily through the use of spatial analysis using geographic information systems and remote sensing tools. His recent research is currently supported by contracts and grants from the California EPA, California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, Hewlett, Annenberg and Energy Foundations, and the California Endowment.

Wilma Subra
Committed to protecting the environment and the health and safety of citizens, Wilma Subra started Subra Company in 1981. Subra Company is a chemistry lab and environmental consulting firm in New Iberia, LA. Mrs. Subra provides technical assistance to citizens, across the United States and some foreign countries, concerned with their environment by combining technical research and evaluation. This information is then presented to community members so that strategies may be developed to address their local struggles.

Utilizing the information gained from community involvement, the needs identified are translated into policy changes at the State and Federal level through service on multi-stake holder committees. She has just completed a seven year term as Vice-Chair of the Environmental Protection Agency National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT), a five year term on the National Advisory Committee of the U. S. Representative to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation and a six year term on the EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) where she served as a member of the Cumulative Risk and Impacts Working Group of the NEJAC Council, and chaired the NEJAC Gulf Coast Hurricanes Work Group.

Mrs. Subra holds degrees in Microbiology/Chemistry from the University of Southwestern Louisiana. She received the MacArthur Fellowship “Genius” Award from the MacArthur Foundation for helping ordinary citizens understand, cope with and combat environmental issues in their communities and was one of three finalist in the Environmental Category of the 2004 Volvo for Life Award.

TopFrequently Asked Questions/Answers

ECOS received numerous questions from attendees during the May 25, 2010 TRI EJ Webinar. Many questions were answered by the presenters, but many were left unanswered, due to time constraints.

The unanswered questions were passed along to the presenters who have provided responses to them. These can be found below in a “Frequently Asked Questions Bank” which has been organized by presentations. Additionally, the FAQ Bank also includes responses to some questions that were answered during the Webinar.

Demonstrations of TRI.NET, TRI Explorer, and Envirofacts

Responses from US EPA

      • Are former facilities and their historical data included in TRI.NET?
        US EPA has TRI reporting data on TRI.NET back to 1988 – the first reporting year for TRI.  The TRI program was started in 1987.
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      • How does TRI.NET apportion Census data?
        TRI.NET overlays census block group data onto facility 3-mile buffers in order to provide facility level demographics.
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      • When will TRI.NET be available for MAC users?
        TRI.NET is a native Windows application, but it will run on the Mac in OSX within a virtual machine using Fusion or Parallels.
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      • Are the TRI.NET search results available in ESRI shapefile format?
        The maps are available in Kml and Html format. I know Kml can be converted to shapefiles.
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      • When will the 2010 census data will be incorporated into the TRI.NET database?
        Census 2010 data should be available by summer 2011 and is expected to be incorporated into TRI.NET within a month of it becoming available.
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      • Can I download all the records of database query to do post process data offline on my own database?
        Yes, the output of any query can be exported easily into Excel or any other spreadsheet. It can also be saved as a tab-delimited text file or import into major applications.
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      • Can weather data somehow be incorporated into TRI.NET?
        No.
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      • Additional data – criteria pollutants and some overlapping chemicals such as ammonia – are reported on the state Regional Air Web sites. Can those be incorporated into TRI’s reports?
        TRI.NET is set up to use boundary layer data so TRI data can be aggregated to that geography.
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      • Do these tools tell us when a facility has failed to submit a Form R or hasn’t fully reported all TRI releases?
        No, the TRI tools demonstrated, Envirofacts, TRI.NET, and TRI Explorer cannot tell one when a facility has failed to report.
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      • Do I have to download TRI.NET to use the quickstart option?
        Yes, you have to download the application. It’s a quick five minute download.
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      • Can you print or copy the maps created in TRI.NET for organizations to use?
        The maps are produced in Kml and Html format.  Since the map is a Web page, it can be printed from the browser. This allows maps to be shared by email or printed.
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      • Has anyone looked at all the TRI facilities on a state, regional or national basis to see what percentage of them are located near minority or low income populations?
        The EJ data layer for TRI.NET uses demographics within 3-mile buffers around facilities which allow facilities to be screened by demographics such as minority and income. This will allow one to focus on facilities near low income and/or minority populations.
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      • The demographics information for Arcelor Mittal that Mr. Davis showed during his demonstration seem to indicate that whites are 77% of the population, and Hispanics are 90%.  How can that be?
        The answer to this question lies in the source of the data. On certain Census forms when a person is asked to describe his race he can state Caucasian. When describing his origins he can designate Hispanic. Thus he is reported as a Caucasian Hispanic.
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      • Why are there records showing up as results that have “0″ under the release columns?
        The reason for the presence of “0″ in the “Releases” row for facilities would be that the chemical or compound was transferred to an off-site facility for waste management or recycling after it was used and no releases occurred.
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Correlation of TRI dioxin and furan emissions data with dioxin and furan congeners in the blood of community members

Responses from Wilma Subra

      • Is Mossville the first place where correlation between chemicals in the blood of community members and chemicals emitted from nearby industry has been studied and documented?  Can other communities now hope to access the resources to test and document such correlations?  How do we do that?
        TRI data has been used in a number of communities to correlate to blood chemical content.  The Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry performs the blood testing in communities.  This usually occurs after communities identify pollution issues.
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      • Was there a control group for the Mossville study?
        Calcasieu Parish residents not living in Mossville were the control for the 1997-98 study.  Calcasieu Parish residents not living in Mossville and Lafayette Parish made up the two control groups for the 2001 study.
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      • Isn’t diet the major source of human dioxin exposure?
        The fish in the area water bodies are contaminated with dioxin, as well as garden produce, fruits and nuts from community members’ yards.
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      • What are the chances the dioxin “fingerprint” would remain the same after metabolism and show up the same in blood samples?
        The fingerprint has remained the same in community members exposed to sources of dioxin such as wood treating with Pentachloro Phenol.
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      • What were the release figures from Georgia Gulf in grams?
        The information on Dioxin releases by year, since 2000, is available on the EPA TRI web site.
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Community Right-to-Know Access and Community Power

Responses from Julia May

      • In the facilities that you were investigating, how did you determine when chemicals were not being reported?
        This requires additional research of other databases, such as local air quality management agencies, state environmental agencies, and fire departments or emergency planning agencies. Find out if you can get electronic databases from these agencies providing an independent toxic emissions inventory. Or, you may have specific knowledge that a particular industry usually uses certain chemicals, and you can focus your research. For example, permit files, enforcement files, etc., at local and state agencies can be requested through public records requests, and are sometimes available online. You also need to establish that the company is big enough to be subject to TRI reporting which you can determine through research in business databases and publications. (For example, Dunn & Bradstreet and others, which we used to access at the local University business library).
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TopWebinar Contacts

Jennifer Major, Ross & Associates (representing ECOS) at jennifer.major@ross-assoc.com
Christine Arcari, U.S. EPA at arcari.christine@epa.gov