(0:00) Jennifer Major: Okay, well, this officially begins our webinar on tribal lands and toxic releases everyone. Thank you for joining us. Welcome on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to TRI Tribal Lands webinar. My name is Jennifer Major from Ross & Associates Environmental Consulting and I’m working with EPA on this effort to increase use and awareness of the TRI among the tribal community and I’m going to be moderating the sessions as we go along today. We have a very packed agenda in just 90 minutes. We’ve got four great presenters today – we’re very fortunate to have them with us, but I do want to keep things moving right along, so I’ll just take a few minutes now to walk you through a few of the webinar logistics so that you’re familiar with the format that we’re using today. All attendees’ lines are muted and you probably already know that through the email you received from GoToMeeting. To ask a question – and we hope that you will – at any time during today’s session, you simply type the question in your question pane on your webinar dashboard, and again, you can do this at any time. We’ll be selecting those questions at the end, we’ll have a 30 minute Q&A session where we’ll be reading some of those questions out loud. And, we probably won’t be able to get to all of your questions, however we will compile them all and get responses from our presenters and we’ll be posting an FAQ to the ChemicalRight2Know Web site one to two weeks after today. That’s about usually how long it takes to get those up. We are recording today’s session. The recorded webcast and a written transcript will be both made available on the ChemicalRight2Know Web site. The webcast is usually quick to be posted within a couple of days. The transcript takes a little bit longer, maybe a week. All the presentations, presenter biographies, various resources, and contact information will also be made available on the ChemicalRight2Know Web site. And, this is just an early request for your feedback, I’ll ask for it again at the end. We do appreciate your feedback. At the close of the webinar today, you will get an email from GoTo with four very short open ended questions just to try to discern what you took away from today’s presentation and help us improve your experience for future webinars.
The learning objectives that we’ve laid out for today: by the close of the session, we do hope that you’ll have acquired a basic understanding of TRI as one important tool in your toolbox for assessing environmental conditions and potential health impacts in Indian Country and Alaska Native villages. We hope you’ll be able to navigate through a few simple data queries; you’re going to see some demonstrations today to become familiar with TRI and learn about some of those queries. And then you will learn from a practical example how TRI has actually been used to conduct analyses of environmental concerns.
(3:30) A quick overview of our agenda today: we’ll hear first from Nancy Wentworth – she’ll give some opening remarks and some program information of tribal relevance. Then you’ll hear from Sarah Swenson who will convince you that you did well in tuning in today – why you should be interested in TRI, and then she’ll walk you through some of the program basics: what chemicals are included in the inventory, the types of facilities reporting, how the data are made available, and how you can access them. And then you will get to the practical examples we talked about earlier – how TRI has actually been used to identify a case of mercury contamination. And then at the end, again as I said, we will have a 30 minute session for questions and answers.
So, with that, our first presenter is Nancy Wentworth from U.S. EPA’s Office of Environmental Information. She is the Acting Deputy Director of OEI’s Office of Information Analysis and Access, or OIAA. She’s been with EPA in various capacities since 1978, and in her current position has responsibilities for overall management and leadership of resources and scientific and technical activities of the organization. Nancy will be followed by Sarah Swenson who also works in OIAA, where she supports outreach and communication activities for the TRI program. Thank you both for joining us today. Nancy, when you’re ready, we’ll go ahead and give you presenter rights.
Nancy Wentworth: I think we’re ready here, Jen.
Jennifer: Ok, great. So, Sarah, I’m actually giving those presenter rights to you.
Nancy: Ok, can you see our screen?
Jennifer: There’s always a few seconds of delay when I give presenter rights, so we don’t see it yet, but it looks like, now we do! Ok, you’re ready to go.
Nancy: Ok. Thank you everyone for calling in and giving us the gift of your time this afternoon. I’m sure that you all believe as we do that in sharing community health and data is central to our mission and daily work at EPA and in your tribal and Alaska Native lands governments. In 1986, the Toxics Releases Inventory program was created to provide communities with information about toxics releases and to support local level community decision making. The TRI data are reported and published annually to give communities a place to start when analyzing local environmental and public health concerns. We believe that our tribal partnership works supports the Administrator’s priorities and that we’re working very hard to increase awareness of the TRI program among the tribes and to increase your use of the TRI data and to expand the tribal participation in activities related to the TRI program. Looking at the next slide, you’ll see that we have a number of activities going on in the TRI program that are providing opportunities for you all in – for input for our work. TRI is in the early stages of drafting a proposed rule, which would clarify opportunities for tribal participation under the TRI program. As part of this process, we’re consulting with tribes to make sure that they are aware of our intentions in this area. We’re also working on a proposed rule relating to TRI reporting requirements for metal mining facilities. A few weeks ago, we convened conference call to obtain tribal, tribal input consultation on this proposed mining rule. They’re will be additional opportunities for comment as the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, hopefully sometime in early 2011. We also have a few other opportunities for tribes that we would like to let you know about. First is our National Training conference on TRI and Environmental Conditions in Communities. This will be happening the first week of November here in Washington, DC. There will be several tribal specific presentations. There will also be a half-day session for states and tribes only so that we can share some of the programmatic issues that are important and that lie in front of us. The National Analysis of the 2009 TRI data – those are data for releases during calendar year 2009 – we expect to release this analysis in December this year and that analysis will include a tribal profile, will show information that we believe that would be of particular interest to the tribes. And also, as you’ll hear later in the presentation, the TRI Web site, which is – they’ll show you more times – epa.gov/TRI – is a very important tool that we used for communication, and we would like to hear from you all how we can make this site a better resource for you, and we’ll be asking for input on usefulness of the site and other information you might find useful. So, with that, I will turn over the microphone to Sarah Swenson to talk about why you should be interested in all of our TRI information.
Sarah Swenson: Thank you, Nancy. Can everyone hear me okay – people who are not muted hear me okay?
Jennifer: Sarah, you sound great
Sarah: Okay, thank you Jen. Before we start talking about the TRI program, we want to address this question – why should tribes be interested? Why should tribes know about TRI or use TRI data and why did we think it was important to offer this webinar? This map was generated using one of our TRI data access tools called TRI.NET and we’ll be talking more about the tools later. And it shows you for 2008 the releases occurring within 10 miles of tribal lands. So, you can see that there are quite a lot of facilities that were releasing toxic chemicals near tribal lands in 2008. And, forgive me, I’m having a little problem advancing my slides here. Okay, here we go, sorry about that. In 2008, there were 49 facilities that reported to the TRI program that they operated on tribal lands and they were releasing toxic chemicals, and you can see here a short list of some of those sectors that reported their releases to us. There are 39 industry sectors with facilities on tribal lands, and they come from fossil fuels, power generation, pulp mills, coal mining, and a variety of other industries. And together, these industries and their 49 facilities released over 22 million pounds of toxic chemicals in 2008. There are 321 facilities that operate within 3 miles of tribal lands, and in 2008, they released 141 million pounds of toxic chemicals. If you look at a bigger radius – 10 mile area, 10 miles around tribal lands, there are 1292 facilities that reported to us in 2008 and they released over 285 million pounds of toxic chemicals. So, the take home message here is that there is a significant amount of toxic releases occurring on or near tribal lands and TRI data are available to help tribes assess the environmental and health concerns on their land.
(12:25) Okay, now, we really want to get into the basics of the TRI program and the data, and so our overview here is called the ABCs of TRI. And as Jen mentioned, if anyone has questions on the basics of the program, or anything that I’m going to be talking about, you can feel free to type in your questions and we’ll address them at the end. In our ABCs, A is for “acronym”, and EPA certainly has a lot of them, as any of you who have dealt with federal government probably know. I’ve been here for about a year and I still learn at least a couple of new acronyms every day. The acronyms that are important for us to learn today are EPCRA and TRI. And EPCRA is the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, and TRI is the Toxics Release Inventory. EPCRA was enacted in 1986 in response to growing concerns over worker safety and chemical accidents both in the US and overseas. One of these accidents occurred in Bhopal, India in 1984, and it was there that a chemical release killed 2500 people and injured thousands more. So, as I said, in 1986, EPCRA was passed and the TRI program was formed from that legislation, and it was formed on the premise that workers and citizens have a right to know about potential chemical hazards in their area. There are two main sections of the EPCRA – one deals with emergency management and the other side of the law deals with toxic chemical reporting, and that is what we’re talking about with you today. TRI – TRI – in TRI, T is for Toxic Chemicals. These chemicals are released by facilities in the US, and they’re reported by facilities to EPA each year. Facilities must estimate the quantities of chemicals that they’re releasing based on guidance that EPA provides them. And they report this data to EPA and EPA makes the data available in a public inventory that can be accessed through the TRI Web site. So, all of the TRI data are easily available online, and you can get them with no log-ins or passwords, and we’ll be telling you how to do that in a little bit.
(15:15) TRI is a really rich source of data, and that’s again one of the messages that we hope that you take with you today. It’s also a starting point for many analyses that you may want to do when you’re investigating potential chemical hazards and health of the environment. This example we have here today is from the Puyallup Reservation in Washington State, and this just shows you a very basis type of analysis you can do with TRI data. So, on the reservation, again using 2008 data, there are 16 TRI facilities that reported their chemical releases to us. And, on the Puyallup Reservation, these facilities are wood preservation facilities, they’re involved in concrete manufacturing, hazardous waste treatment and disposal, and petroleum refining, just to name a few. And, these 16 facilities alone released 1.1 million pounds of toxic chemicals in 2008, and this includes, as you can see, 150,000 pounds discharged directly to surface water and 897,000 pounds discharged to the air. And again, that’s just a very basic type of analysis that you can do. In our ABCs, B is for “Break it Down”, so we’re going to find out the who, what, when, where, why, and so what of the TRI program, so we’re going to start here with the basics. As we said before, TRI, the whole program is based on the belief that it is everyone’s right to know what toxic chemicals are being released in their neighborhood. So, who must report to the TRI program? For a facility to be required to report, they must meet all three of these criteria that are listed here. First, they must be a TRI-listed industry. Facilities report to us using NAIC codes, which are the North American Industrial Classification system, and it’s a standard use by the federal government for classifying businesses. And, so, if you’re in a covered NAIC code, then you may be required to report to the TRI program. Here you see an example of a NAIC code – 212231 – and this is lead ore and zinc ore mining, and they are required – they are one of the covered industries. You also must have 10 or more employee equivalents – and this basically means that you have to have the equivalent of 10 full-time employees during a calendar year, and full-time is defined as 2000 hours per year. Finally, your facility must be above the threshold for whatever chemical you’re reporting on, and we’ll talk about that in a few minutes. So, you must meet all three of these criteria. When you do meet all three of these criteria, you must submit reports on your releases to the EPA and to the state in which your facility is located. The deadline for reporting is July 1 of every year, and the facilities report at that time for releases that occurred during the previous calendar year. So, for example, this is 2010, just a few months ago in July, we collected data from facilities for releases that occurred during 2009. Failure to report or inaccurate reporting are subject to enforcement actions under the law, and if facilities fail to comply it can mean monetary penalties for them, and EPA does investigate noncompliance with TRI programs. Now, we’re going to take a closer look at the TRI reporting requirements and criteria. So, we talked about a few types of industries that have reported to EPA this last year. There – TRI first began collecting data in 1987 and there are a number of industries who have been required to report since the program was first established then. Some of them include wood products manufacturing; petroleum manufacturing; plastics, paper, and chemical manufacturing; and non-metal mining, among others. In 1994, we added federal facilities to the program, and now they are required to submit TRI reports, and in 1998, we added seven new industry sectors to the program. The ones that were added in 1998, you can see them here – metal and coal mining, electric utilities, petroleum terminals, and several others. I want to mention at this point that there are some types of facilities or sites that may be of particular interest to tribes that are not required to report to TRI. Some examples are open dumps, phosphate mines, uranium mines, and abandoned or closed mines. So, I just wanted to point that out because we have gotten questions about those before. The EPA Administrator can add or delete sectors if there is good cause – if it’s relevant to the purposes of the EPCRA statutes, and so the TRI program is currently considering whether there are additional sectors that we should look into adding to the program.
(21:43) Ok, so which chemicals have to be reported every year? Which chemicals are you all able to get data on? The original list of chemicals that was covered had about 300 on the list, and the list expanded significantly since then, and now facilities must report on over 650 different chemicals. Under the legislation, a toxic chemical is one that is known to cause cancer or other serious or irreversible health effects, or if it’s a chemical that has the significant adverse effect on the environment, so these are the criteria for the toxic chemicals reported under TRI. And we really wanted to make sure that we pointed out that anyone can petition the EPA to add or delete a chemical, and we do get those petitions every year. I also wanted to mention that, just recently this year, EPA proposed adding sixteen new chemicals to the TRI list, and we’re expecting to finalize that rulemaking by the end of the year. Some chemicals that were proposed to be added included furan, vinyl fluoride, nitromethane and isoprenes, and when that rulemaking is finalized, you’ll be able to read about that on the TRI homepage. So, I mentioned before that there were certain criteria for facilities to have to report, that they have to exceed certain thresholds for a chemical. So, per calendar year, a facility must manufacture, process, or otherwise use a TRI chemical in excess of these limits, and then they are required to report. “Manufacturing” means that a facility is producing, preparing, or importing the chemical, and the facility must manufacture 25,000 pounds or more of the chemical per calendar year. Processing, the threshold is 25,000 pounds – “processing” means that the facility is incorporating the already manufactured chemical into their product. And “otherwise use” means that the facility is using the chemical, but is not manufacturing or processing it. So, one example would be like a lubricant that the facility was using to grease machinery. So, if the facility exceeds any one of those thresholds for any one chemical, then they must report to TRI, if they have met the other criteria that we talked about earlier. You’ll notice here that there are lower thresholds for PBT chemicals – so those that are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. So, if a facility manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses more than a gram of dioxin in a year, they must report, or if they do any of those to mercury in excess of 10 pounds a year, or for lead, the threshold is 100 pounds a year. So you can see it’s significantly lower for those chemicals that are really of concern.
(25:16) So we’ve been talking about releases of chemicals to the environment, so what is a release? In the TRI world, it can mean many things. Spilling, leaking, pumping, you can see the rest of the definitions here from the legislation. And as you’re working with TRI data, you’ll notice that there are two main categories of releases – onsite and offsite. Onsite releases occur at the facility within the facility boundary, and the releases of chemicals to the air, surface water, or land, such as to landfills or surface impoundments. Offsite releases are transfer of chemical wastes to disposal sites that are beyond the facility’s boundaries. And when you’re looking at TRI data for your community, keep in mind that offsite locations really may not be local, but facilities are required to tell us where they sent their waste, so when you’re working with the data, you’ll be able to see , for example, whether or not the waste stayed in your county, or, or, was disposed outside of your county. So, those are the two main types of releases. TRI also has a lot of other data on waste management and pollution prevention activities that facilities are engaged in. We get data on recycling, treatment, and energy recovery. I think due to time, I’m not going to go into the definitions of these, but I’ll just leave it that facilities are not only required to tell us you know what they’re basically dumping into the environment, they’re also supposed to tell us what they’re doing to prevent pollution, and so we do have that data available. So, how are TRI data collected by the program? Facilities can still submit their reports on paper, but more commonly, facilities use our electronic reporting application, which called TRI-ME Web, and right now we estimate that 97% of facilities are using it, and it just makes facilities’ lives easier – much easier – use it quicker, also, and it’s must easier for us to collect, process, and see that. Just like taxes, we have a short form and a long form. The short form is Form A, and the more detailed is Form R, and EPA provides guidance to facilities on which form that they should use, but most releases are reported on the Form Rs. I also wanted to quickly mention that TRI has something called the State Data Exchange, and basically, facilities located in states that participate in the State Data Exchange, they only have to submit their reports to EPA, and then EPA automatically transmits reports to the states. In the rulemaking that Nancy mentioned earlier, we intend to clarify how tribes can participate in the exchange of TRI data, so we wanted to just make you aware of the State Data Exchange.
So, if you want to look at TRI data, when are they available? Well, I mentioned before that they are due to EPA by July 1. There’re due to July 1 for the previous year’s releases. And then EPA is now able to process the data and make a preliminary dataset available to the public very soon after that reporting deadline. So, this year, we were able to have a preliminary dataset published on July 28, so that the public could start looking at and working with the 2009 data. I do want to mention that the data that we put out during the summer are raw data and EPA has not yet analyzed them or completed all our data quality checks, but they are available for people to start working with. And we have been updating that dataset as more data have been received and processed over the summer. What you all probably want to take a look at will happen in December, and that’s our TRI National Analysis, and that is a report that EPA does every year and based on the full dataset – so all the 2009 data this year, and all our data quality checks will be completed, and the report will contain trends, summaries, and analyses, and will also include a tribal specific section, so I wanted to point that out to everyone. Ok, I’m getting the signal that I need to move a little faster. So, if you’re curious how you can access TRI data, this link right here is kind of our one-stop shopping. It’s our TRI Data and Tools page. There you can locate several different tools that can help you depending on what your needs are, and Steve is going to show you how to access that page later, and if you go to that page, you can see which tool you’ll want to use for which type of analysis, so I won’t go through that right now. I want to point out that there are some limitations to using TRI data. It can give you a lot of wonderful information, it can give you annual data like we said like toxic releases to air, land, and water. You can compare industries, you can compare releases by year, it’ll give you information about the facility, contact information, just a wealth of valuable data. TRI also gives you tools and maps you can use for your information and analyses, and like I said, it’s really a starting point for you and we hope you’ll see it as another tool you can use to assess issues that may affect your community. What it can’t give you are some data that the program doesn’t collect, and these are data from facilities that did not meet all the reporting criteria. So, for example, if you have a facility with a large amount of releases but they only have a few employees working there, then they will not be required to report to us, or its a facility with a lot of releases, but they’re not in an industrial code that we cover, such as drycleaners, we’re not going to have that data from that facility either. We also don’t collect data on toxic releases from mobile sources such as cars. And lastly, we don’t have the information needed to conduct risk assessments, so we don’t have exposure data or data about site conditions, or the other information here that is needed to be able to determine if a population is at risk. So, in closing, TRI will give you easy access online to toxics release information and tools. The release are calculated by industry, and they are reported annually, so TRI is actually one of EPA’s most current databases, but we do have annual updated data. TRI data can encourage changes in industry practices, including pollution prevention. TRI program is enforceable, and most importantly, TRI data can be combined with other information to really help tribes and communities, and Steve and Denise will actually show you an example of how a tribe has recently used the data. If you have general questions about TRI, I put up some resources for you, and these will be available on the Web site when we publish the webinar presentation, but they are also available right now on our Web site. We have our TRI Regional Coordinators, who really do the on-the-ground work for the TRI program. We have the EPA Indian Coordinators, and you can also email us at our general inbox, which I pretty much check every day. And now I’m going to turn it over to Steve and Denise who are going to give you a really more information about TRI data.
Jennifer: Thank you, Sarah, and we’ll go ahead and make that transition. Just as a reminder, folks, if you do have questions, please go ahead and submit those through the Q&A pane, we do have a few questions in now, and we encourage you to keep sending those. The next portion of the webinar is called “TRI Tools in Action”, and we’re going to learn from the recent real-world situation involving mercury contamination on Winnebago tribal lands, how TRI was used to identify the problem, and set in motion the steps to be taken to address it. Our presenters will be Denise Jensen and Steve Witkin. Just give you a little intro to each of these guys – Denise currently serves as Water Quality Specialist for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, where she prepares the tribe’s quality assurance project plans for numerous water and biosolids assessments. Steve Witkin is the project officer for the TRI application out of the Environmental Assessment division at EPA. Steve has been with EPA for 14 years, and prior of that he worked with state government and also with private industry as a mechanical engineer. Denise, if you’re ready, I’m going to go ahead and switch presenter rights over to you.
Denise Jensen: I’m ready.
Jennifer: Ok, it will just be a few seconds here. And, now we’re seeing your screen.
(36:38) Denise: Excellent. Well, hello everyone, this is, like Jennifer said, this is Denise, and I’m a water quality specialist for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, and this a little story that I wanted to tell everybody, more kind of like a mystery, and it’s, “Mercury, where did it come from?” Here’s a – I always kind of like to know what people are talking about, and this is a picture of the Winnebago Reservation, and we’re approximately 120,000 acres of crop land, wood land, and timber, asters, in Northeastern Nebraska, and approximately 1800 acres in northwestern Iowa. You can see we’re split by the Missouri River – approximately 9 miles of the Missouri river. So, for folks like me who don’t understand what an acre is – the reservations is about 9, 10 miles north and south and about 20 miles east and west. It’s a reservation- it’s owned by tribal and non-tribal people, kind of a trust land. This is a locational map of the Kelly Pond, which is – this is where the mystery all originated from. I wanted to show you just where we have some towns – Emerson, Thurston, which is mainly non-tribal, and Winnebago, which is mostly tribal. Kelly Pond – here’s an aerial map of Kelly Pond, you can see that the importance of Kelly Pond is first of all that it’s in tribal area. It’s also a man-made natural springs-fed pond that is located smack dab in between two residential areas, and it’s down gradient from these residential areas. You can see there is a paved road and on this other side, there’s a wetland area, and this area is about two to three acres. And, I wanted to show you what the pond looked like. And so you can see – it’s very accessible. It’s, it’s – Children and elderly and everybody loves to fish I’m sure – it’s very aesthetic, it’s a very nice area, very accessible. What happened was in 2004, 2005, somebody approached us and said, “Hey, are the fish safe to eat?” And so, we decided, well, we’re going to find out – well, lo and behold, in 2005, we did our first fish tissue analysis and investigation, and we did right, we didn’t do stock, we all went out fishing. And we discovered that we had some mercury issues in mainly our predator species. We approached tribal council and said we don’t know what’s going on, we know we’ve got some mercury issues, so they put out this general fish consumption advisory, and we’ve been building on the story since.
(39:54) These are some of our results from our Winnebago fish tissue for total mercury. As you can see we used a 0.03 milligrams per kilogram. We took that out of the 2001 methyl mercury guidelines and that’s what we set our criteria for our reference case, above that is too high. And as you can see, we have some interesting results there. And I wanted to mention too that in 2008, in 2009, this site was also a site for our regional ambient fish tissue, they did through EPA, and they did stock, and our results are very very comparable. So, we decided, okay, we’ve got a mercury issue, what’s going on? So, we decided, okay, we’re going to find out what the source is. And, we found out that this area was located close to an old landfill, which kind of makes sense, so what we’re getting we thought was maybe a possible mercury leachate from the old landfill. So, we set out and we did core sediment samples, and this is a picture of myself and BJ Walker, who is our chief GIS specialist. We went out last year, and we poked holes in the bottom of Kelly Pond. We did 32 samples, sent them in for analysis, thinking we’re going to get this nice diagram of concentrations to show us just where this mercury is coming from. When we got the results back, we got a big surprise, because we got non-detects all across the board. So, then we wondered, where is the mercury coming from? Also I wanted to point out that we had three other fish sites that we do fish – fishing out of that, and no other sites other than Kelly Pond have come up with mercury hits. So, I gave this presentation at the Tribal Science Forum in June, and Steve Witkin happened to be attending, who is the other presenter on here, and we got to visiting, and I said that I don’t know where are these other sources of contamination are coming from, but we’ve got some coal-fired burning power plants across the river on the Iowa side. I said, I don’t know what to do next. So, he did some ground working for us, I just wanted to close with a few comments. I had never until this time that Steve mentioned it, heard of TRI, and I had been in this position for a while. With the TRI, it is a valuable tool that I wanted to encourage all tribes to use. I also wanted to tell that this is just the beginning, and we were surprised in what kind of facilities were actually producing and discharging mercury levels, and it’s also going to provide us direction. So, the story’s just really beginning – we’re not at the end, we’re just beginning. And I just wanted to give you my contact information here, and I think I won’t belabor it anymore because Steve has actually has really been doing a lot of the work on here, and we’re going to, I guess, Jennifer, we’ll turn it over to Steve for now.
Jennifer: Okay. Thanks very much Denise. Steve, are you ready?
Steve Witkin: I’m here.
Jennifer: Okay, we’re switching presenter rights to you. And there’s a little bit of a delay. Steve, if you’re ready, go ahead and hit the play button on the dashboard, and then we’ll be looking at your screen. Steve, do you see the play button on your webinar dashboard? Can you hear us, Steve? We can’t – I can’t hear you. Ah, let’s see, we may have lost Steve. Folks, if you’ll just bear with us one minute, we’re going to-
Steve: Hello, are you all there?
Jennifer: There you are, Steve, we lost you for a minute.
Steve: Yeah, I lost the entire webinar session, cancelled out on me.
Jennifer: Oh no! Okay, can you log back in?
Steve: That’s what I’m in the process of doing. Yeah, there was a notice of an audio problem and then everything went dead.
Jennifer: Oh no, okay. We didn’t have any indication of that on this end, so, to us, it just seemed like you disappeared. But we’re getting you back.
Steve: Okay. Okay. Well.
Jennifer: Sorry folks, just bear with us for one minute.
Steve: We will be there.
Steve: Okay, what’s it not liking?
Steve: Okay, here we go.
Jennifer: We got you.
Steve: Bring me back, okay.
Jennifer: Let me switch presenter rights to you.
Steve: Okay, that’s what I want.
Jennifer: Great. There it is. Thank you. Glad we got that. Alright, Steve take it away.
Steve: No problem. Okay, I’m just trying to minimize these windows here. Okay. Let me get back to my first slide. Now, Denise gave her presentation on Kelly Pond, and I was in the audience, not to provide TRI data, but really to get a better understanding and appreciation of what the tribes face in their environmental situations, and hoping that we can then build a better TRI for the tribal populations. Now, as Denise was talking, the wheels started to click. Denise has a lot of local information, she knows fish, she’s the expert with the water quality, and I could hear in her voice the frustration – there were pieces missing, they didn’t know where to go. On the other side, I know the TRI data and the tools. I’m not an expert on how the data comes in, but once we have the data, what’s there, how can we use it. Now, we both had some common elements we share. We both know things about water, we know different items about water. We both know items about mercury, but we know different aspects of mercury, and could we then combine all of that, and my mail just- Ok, we should be back soon. Okay. So, as the wheels were turning, how can we start putting some of these pieces together. This slide, I’m going to skip over – Sarah covered this, it’s about what the TRI program is. In effect, it’s a lot, a lot of data. These are the major categories Sarah covered. There’s basically 13 categories that I like to put them in – these are not the official, necessarily, all the sources. There’s land, air, and water. Now, this is what I see – we have a lot of tools available that I use, that you can use, these are all publicly available, and you can get to all of these tools from the TRI homepage. This email address right here – epa.gov/tri – really is the only web address you need to remember. Everything else, you can get from there, and we’ll try to show you where you can get to it. On the sidebar, there’s a Data Tools link, that gets you to a page similar to this, and then you can link on each of the tools. I advise all of you to at least browse them, take them for a little road test, see what they’re like.
(50:39) Now I knew this information, Denise did not. So, where I was coming from, I was in the audience listening to Denise. I had my laptop in my backpack, I heard she had a situation. Could TRI possibly be one of the missing pieces to address this problem? So, literally, I pulled the laptop out. One of the tools we have, which has been around for about a year now – TRI.NET. It’s a downloadable tool and I already had it on my laptop. Being in a conference room in a basement, I didn’t even know if I could get an Internet connection. I didn’t need one with the TRI.NET tool, so within two or three minutes, I could get a quick answer, I didn’t need an Internet connection. I know the TRI data, its layout, which is a benefit of which tool is the best tool and I already had the software on my laptop, so I cranked up the tool. How to use all our tools – we’ll show you, but it’s how the tools are used. Most of the work was done with the TRI.NET tool. When I start this tool up, it comes up with the default dataset, which is the most recent data I’ve loaded in. And we can update TRI – users update TRI.NET – you go to the Web site. Well, we actually have an Update button, and it’ll tell you if there are any new updates. Single year data always runs quicker. And you might, you’ll see on this side, there’s a screen here with a bunch of check boxes. This is really how the entire piece of software works. These are the grouping variables, which in effect are the fields associated with the data. So, I clicked what I wanted – the name of the facility, the state. The data variables – I’m not going to show you. I picked surface water discharges. For the filters, I picked mercury, mercury compounds, I looked at the tribal buffer – I wanted facilities on tribal lands or within a ten mile buffer. And just to minimize the amount of data coming back, I only wanted states in Nebraska. Fairly quick, I ran a query, and here’s what I got. I got absolutely nothing – there were no facilities in the TRI database for 2008 reporting mercury to water on or near tribal land. So I backed off my analysis, I took off the filter of on or near tribal lands – what’s beyond the 10 miles? There could be a facility at ten and a half miles I was losing. What I got back was a list of 27 facilities. Now, to me, I had no idea whether these facilities were anywhere near Kelly Pond. I wasn’t even looking at how much material was being released – just if any mercury was being released. So, I knew there were facilities in Nebraska, I needed a little bit more horsepower. TRI.NET has a lot of GIS capabilities associated with it, I plugged a few more wires and started a few more things up on the laptop, and I was able to take these 27 facilities, map them in Google Earth, see where the reservations are, and I identify whether there was anything within the vicinity of Kelly Pond, and I found there was a facility near Kelly Pond, also near a river. But again, I don’t have any of the local knowledge, if the facility was down river, it’s probably not a likely source, it if was upriver, it’s a potential. So, the next slide will show you what the results page would look like. These are the results I got back. I could’ve asked for the addresses of the facilities show up – I didn’t because for me, it would not have meant anything. You need local knowledge, has to be incorporated with the information you’re going to be using. You’re the people who know who’s out there, what the area is like. So, I got this list back – 27 facilities, and I could very quickly then go to the Google Earth, and literally, select right here, which will give me select all the facilities, and then I click right here, and what we get is a real nice map, Google Earth map, each place marker is a facility and right in here is where our concern is. These facilities on the other side of the state are probably not contributing to Kelly Pond issues. I zoomed in and here – here was the town of Winnebago. At this point, I was only paying, listening with only a half an ear to Denise, because I was trying to concentrate on this, and here’s our facility – this facility was within 14 – about 14 miles away, also located right near a river. Kelly Pond, I don’t know how close it was to the river – Kelly Pond is in this area, so I don’t think we were too far away from the river, and I don’t know if there’s any connection from the river to Kelly Pond, but we did have a facility. If I click on this place marker, you then see the results of what’s on here on the left. I get some more information about the facility, the address, and some additional links. Three other reports that we will talk a little bit more later.
(57:34) So now, I found there was at least one releaser of mercury to water near Kelly Pond. I have a way of getting more information about that facility, the release was near a major river, I found out from Denise later that the facility was upriver from the pond, which is a positive. But then I also – when I did look at the poundage – the releases were extremely low. This facility had released less than a pound of mercury in 2008, and didn’t know if there was a path from the river to the pond. Now, the critical thing with all this – I probably spent more time discussing it, but from the time I took the computer out the bag and powered it up to have most of these results, it was less than ten minutes. That is a lot of information that we let you get to very quickly.
(58:37) Now the investigation, we had to start looking further. Did this facility have releases in the past? Were there other facilities that may not have existed in 2008 that went out of business – could they have released mercury to the pond. Because this is a historic situation – mercury was first tested in 2004 I believe, and the TRI data goes back for over 20 years. Also, start looking at facilities with releases to land and air, and look beyond just Nebraska. There – could get to answers to these questions with a lot of different tools we have. I typically use TRI Explorer because that’s the tool I’m most familiar with. We have different tools because different people have different data needs and different comfort levels. But if you recall, when I had the map and the place mark and got this extra block show up, one of the options was called an EPA facility profile, which actually is a TRI Explorer report for the specific facility, and one link away from that gets me to some very nice trend data, and that’s what I’ll show you now. Here was the trend data for this facility, they first started to report in 2001, they reported every year up until 2008, and the red bars are their releases of lead, the green bar section is their mercury releases, which is very small. Now, sad thing is, the quantities over here. All the releases rounded off to zero. Historically, they were even below zero, so this facility may not be who we’re looking for. This may have been a potential dead end, but that doesn’t mean that the analyses stopped. I now wanted to look at other facilities who may have reported in the past. Recall earlier I pulled up the report like this – this was one of the reports I pulled up within ten minutes. I now switched the dataset in TRI.NET to include 1988 to 2008. It takes a little bit more time to run twenty years of data, but it’s still fairly quick, and what I did is when I compared it on the map, all the additional facilities that showed up were down here. Nothing was showing up new around the reservation, so this may have been another dead end. Facilities releasing in the water may not be a likely source of the problems in Kelly Pond. So, now, I wanted to go back and look at other release mechanisms. I didn’t show this screen before, I just showed the quick balloon to it, but now I had TRI.NET, I wanted to look at air releases, I wanted to look at underground injection, on-site land releases, and there’s subtypes I could’ve looked at, but I just wanted to look at the totals, and again, I customized my query to paint upon what I’m looking for and how much detail I need at the time. I made these changes, click Run Query again, it kept all my other parameters, I don’t have to keep redoing everything. And what I came up with, there were a number of facilities that showed that had mercury releases. The two largest releases were on the other side of the state. One of the releases, well actually two of the facilities were south-south-east of Kelly Pond, I think this was the number fourth largest releaser was about 65 miles south-south-east Kelly Pond. This is where your expertise and knowledge of the air and transport mechanisms, is this even in the ballpark or not? That is where your knowledge is critical, the weather patterns in the area, you have that local knowledge to go from a facility to your tribe, what might be happening. Now, I’m still looking, let’s look beyond Nebraska. Look at the state gives me a lot of information, but lot of the information is beyond the state boundary. A feature that TRI.NET has, which no other application that I know of has, either EPA, federal government, and there are some private sector programs out there that handle TRI data. It’s a My Neighborhood feature. You enter in information like you were doing a Google map direction, the software will geocode the information and then give you results from that information you located. Here’s the TRI.NET tool, I’ve entered Winnebago, Nebraska. I didn’t know exactly where Kelly Pond was, if I had a lat-long, I could’ve put a lat-long in here. I’ve put street intersections in here and a city. You hit Go, and TRI.NET goes out to the Internet, geocodes the information. I put a – this is a radius, and hit OK, and then I run my query again, like I was doing anything else. Now instead of filtering on the state, it filters on this information. It also keeps any other filters I had. If I had just limited to the filter for Nebraska, it would still only give me 20 miles within Winnebago, plus add the Nebraska filter on. Now, when I got the query’s response back, I now got four facilities which were in my target circle. And interesting, this was the facility we picked up the first time, when I was only looking at Nebraska, but there are three more facilities which are now in Iowa. And, these have some moderate amounts of releases of mercury to air. So, there – this might be feasible – feasible source of the source.
(1:06:21) Again, TRI data does not make – draw the – connect the dots from this to the pond. There’s a lot of other work that has to be done. We can just provide a piece. Graphically, here’s where these facilities are. This was the facility we found the first time in Nebraska. These other three are all located Iowa, literally just on the other side of the river, they’re all upriver from reservation, and these two down here are related to one of the local power plants. But then I was like, what else is there out there? This is just looking at 20 miles – I ran the same query again, and just plugged in 50 miles and 100 mile radius. And interesting, there was nothing that appeared between 20 and 50 miles. Then I went out to 100 miles, I brought in a lot of facilities around Omaha. Again, these are all down river, but the prevailing winds, I don’t – we don’t have that information. It was also when I brought in this 100 mile radius, and I looked at some of these facilities, and I’ll say that at least one of these facilities had a very colorful past when I looked into them. Googling them, they had a lot of information that appeared – court cases, enforcement actions. Their numbers seemed odd, but they’d been enforcement – actually, I think still was involved with one of these facilities. It’s also when I brought this 100 mile radius, we were now dealing with facilities in three different states. Region 8 now popped in, up here we start getting into South Dakota, and I said at least one of them had a colorful compliance record. So, Kelly Pond, we don’t know, we still don’t know what the source is, but it could require cooperation of multiple EPA Regions, possibly multiple states, and tribal lands, governments. There’s a lot of cooperation that has to occur to address and to even just identify the source of these contamination and attacks of the water. Now I said I’d come back to this slide again real quick. We have different tools – this second link that shows up actually takes you to an Envirofacts report. Envirofacts actually has, I believe, seven – no – five different types of reports. The simplest, easiest one for people to use gives you a lot of information back. This will take you right to that report with the facility, and in that report, there’s a link to other EPA regulated datasets that you can get to the water discharge permit information, you can get to the air facility information, the RCRA information. TRI may not have all the answers you need, TRI does not have all the answers you need, but we can help you connect to the other data sources that are out there that EPA has. An interesting one is also we give you a link to EPA’s ECHO, which gives you enforcement and compliance history, gives you water permit numbers, a lot of additional information, I recommend people go click on some of these things, see what’s out there. At times, people will be confused, we have all these very – all these different TRI tools. Most of our tools actually do talk to each other. Different tools, as a pickup truck cannot duplicate for a luxury car; a pickup truck you may want to haul heavy payload, some of our tools haul the heavy payload, but they’re not going to get you the speed of a sports car. Some can get you information quickly, but don’t have as much data. So most of our tools do have links back and forth, you may not even know you’re linking between the tools, because we’re just trying to get you the data you need, the quickest and easiest form to get it in. That’s all I have for the main part of my presentation, here’s some contact information for me, from Kara Koehm, who’s also an expert on dealing with the TRI data, and one additional place I’m going to take you for just a moment is the TRI Web page. As I said before, epa.gov/tri – that’s really the only web information you need to go to. On here, on the sidebar, there’s a link, Data Tools – I’ll click on that. This brings me now to a page or will bring you shortly, which has all the tools, it has TRI Explorer tool, and all the tools I mentioned, some I haven’t mentioned. Also, above the tools, there’re links to raw datasets. These are flat files of all the data, if you just – if you understand the program, understand the categories, and just want the data to manipulate yourself, you’re free to use that. One tool we have here which I know at least one of the pre-registered attendees might be interested in is a tool called TRI-CHIP. This tool is a little bit different, this has the hazard information. We’re trying to get you beyond just presenting the data – here’s the tool with some hazard information. TRI-CHI, you can, has all the TRI chemicals listed, and it does a very detailed collection of all the data sources, the end points of toxicity, all the end effects of the chemicals, why they’ve been listed, and it has links back to all the original sources. So, if you’re concerned of – of an end effect of cancers in an area, TRI-CHIP can give you the list of TRI chemicals where cancer was a major end point and TRI-CHIP then can actually pre-population the TRI.NET tool for you with those chemicals, and you continue your search.
(1:14:07) Going back to the homepage, there’s a section here called Events and Top Stories, you should come here periodically, see what’s new, see what’s going on. For this audience, and we try to have different sections for audiences that may have needs and information, information needs a little bit different, or more specific, we have a link to the page for TRI Tribes. We also have links for states and communities – where you will see some more customized information for your communities, your specific needs. If you need to get in touch with someone, the bottom of the page has a Contact Us link, that will then take you to a page with a lot of additional information on who you can contact with various types of questions. Jen, I know I kind of went over, but I think I probably covered everything I have to say.
Jennifer: Thank you so much Steve, that was very informative, and thank you for showing us where we can find all those tools. Before we open it up to questions, and we do have a few to go through here, I just wanted to point out – let’s see – I want to make sure you can see my screen. A few of the key resources that we’ve mentioned throughout the course of today’s presentation – don’t feel like you have to jot all this down now, we will be posting this to the ChemicalRight2Know page, but I wanted to let you know that those exist, and I’m just going to go quickly through these next few slides. There’s also contact information for all of our presenters today, should you have questions and want to follow up with them about something you think about later, some other question that comes to mind, that information will also be available to you. As I believe that Nancy and Sarah both mentioned earlier, the 2010 National Training conference on TRI, that’s happening in November in Washington DC. This will be the first TRI conference including tribal presentations and presentations by tribal members, and there’s a state-tribal half-day session on the last day of that conference, so if you’re interested in learning more about that conference, or registering, or seeing what the draft agenda looks like, please do go to ChemicalRight2Know.org. And now, I will go ahead and with our last minutes remaining, we’ll go ahead and open it to questions an d answers, and I’m just going to read a few of these aloud, whichever of our presenters wants to tackle that response, please do.
(1:17:04) The first question is: “How might one find out if a facility should be reporting under TRI and is not doing so?” And, just a reminder to our presenters, if you’re already speaking, to unmute yourself.
Steve: This is Steve Witkin, I’ll respond with that.
Jennifer: Thanks, Steve.
Steve: And unfortunately, I can’t give you the answer you’re really looking for. When we receive questions like that, we typically, from a headquarters point, refer the people back to the state contacts and the Regional Coordinators. They typically will know more of the history of the facility. A lot of times, the question is not an original question, someone else may have raised before and the Regional Coordinators may already have an answer, yes we’ve investigated that facility and they do not have to report, and this is why. But generally, the first contact for that would be with the Regional Coordinators.
Jennifer: Ok. Well, hopefully that answers that question. A next question is: “When did the TRI become mandatory for some facilities?”
Sarah: I guess I can take that one, Jen, this is Sarah. As I said before, the program was passed, or established rather, in 1986, and 1987 was the first year that it was mandatory for those industries that were initially included. So, if you were a facility in one of those industries and you met the three reporting criteria, then you were required to report. And as I also said, we’ve added more facilities over the years. And if you go to the TRI Web site, you can see a list, you can see a list of all the industries that are currently subject to TRI reporting. I hope that helps answer that one.
Jennifer: Great, thank you Sarah. We have another question here: “What is the date of the most recent “Lists of Lists” available from EPA?”
Nancy: This is Nancy Wentworth. Years ago, there were lists of list of chemicals that were regulated. If you are looking to see what chemicals are covered by which programs, I’d suggest starting with Envirofacts, which has many of the core databases in it, many in summary form, but much of the data in one place so that it’s more easily searched en masse. If you’re interested in all the chemicals for which EPA has some interest, there is a System of Registries that contains a very long list of all the chemicals that are regulated under the EPA programs, and that might be an interesting place to look, that can be found at epa.gov/sor – System of Registries. There’s also a Registry of Environmental Applications and databases known as READ – epa.gov/READ – that contains listings of all the major databases and applications across the country that you can sort on keywords such as water, air, toxics, land, pesticides, etcetera, that might be useful for finding the breadth or beginning the search to find information on a particular chemical or topic.
Jennifer: Great, Nancy, thank you. The next question: “Does ‘federal facilities’ also mean tribal government facilities? If so, what type of facilities?”
Nancy: In general, the term ‘federal facility’ deals with things such as the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, etcetera. It would not include tribal facilities per se I don’t believe, because of the sovereign status of the tribal governments. There’re not federal facilities in the context of owned and operated by the US federal government- that would refer to DOD, Energy, Postal Service, Fish and Wildlife, Park Services, etcetera.
Jennifer: Thanks, thank you again Nancy. Let’s see – the next question: “A few industries were mentioned earlier that were of interest to tribal lands in particular. I remember phosphate mines – could you repeat those industry sectors again, please?”
Sarah: Sure, this is Sarah. I mentioned a couple that – that we’ve heard – that we’ve heard from tribes in the past that they’re interested about, but which aren’t currently subject to us, to TRI reporting. Some examples again were open dumps, phosphate mines, uranium mines, vanadium mines, iron ore mines, and any mines that have abandoned or, you know, have ceased their act of processing. TRI only applies to facilities that are currently operating. So, those were just a few examples of those that are not currently required to report, but as I said, we’re actively investigating whether there are other sectors that warrant inclusion in the program.
Jennifer: Okay. Thank you, Sarah. The next question: “Does an open landfill need to report releases and do closed landfills still need to report if they are leaking?”
Nancy: Neither of those would fall into the category of covered facilities under the statute and regulations for TRI. If something has ceased operation, then it is no longer is reporting, even though there might be releases from the physical facility, the bounds of the property.
Jennifer: Okay. Thank you, Nancy. Let’s see. “Will EPA be conducting any analyses of toxic releases in Indian Country and Alaska Native Villages?”
Sarah: This is Sarah. Yes, we will, as part of the National Analysis, which again is our big annual report on the year’s toxic releases. We will have a tribal profile included in that report, so we will be doing the tribal analysis using 2009 data. Beth, do you know whether that will include data on Alaska Native Villages?
Beth Jackson: Yes, that is the plan. We’re going to include tribes, both in the lower 48 and Alaska Native Villages as well.
Sarah: Okay. And again, we expect that will be published in December, and that will be available right on the TRI Web site.
Steve: And also, Steven Witkin to add into that, we now have included in most of our TRI access tools – the ability for you to go and filter facilities by, if it’s on tribal land or near tribal land or Alaska Native villages. So you can perform a lot of those analyses yourself fairly simply, both with TRI.NET and TRI Explorer have those filters built in currently.
Sarah: Yeah, this is Sarah again. Thanks for mentioning that, Steve, and just to go along with that, the example I gave earlier about the Puyallup Reservation – those statistics that I put up for that basic analysis, I probably did that in less than five minutes. So, yeah, we definitely encourage people to use the data, go ahead and use the data for your own analyses.
Jennifer: Great, and I think we have time for one more question, and this one sounds like a bit of trivia, but, “How many tribes currently have TRI facilities on their land?”
Beth: This is Beth. There are, as of the 2008 data reporting – for that reporting year, 21 tribes have facilities actually on their lands. And again, this is include land not within proximity, but actually within the bounds of the tribal lands.
Jennifer: Great, thank you Beth. We’ve just got about one minute, so with that, I’m going to go ahead and, let’s see. Thank you for participating, but before we do adjourn, I want to remind you that your feedback is very important to us. After you log out of the webinar, you will receive a brief follow-up mail with just four short open-ended questions about what you learned today and asking for your ideas on how we can improve future web events like this and make them more relevant to you. So with that, I’d like to thank our presenters today, the US EPA for hosting, and most importantly, thank you the attendees for participating with us. We look forward to receiving your feedback and encourage you to check the ChemicalRight2Know Web site often. Again, we’ll be posting that recorded webcast and transcript, along with presenter biographies and each of these individual presentations as well, and all that contact information, so if you want to call up Steve and ask him a question about TRI Explorer, you’ll have that information right there on the Web site. So, thank you again, this concludes our webinar today, and we hope you have a wonderful week. Thanks all.
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