DENVER – Utility companies for the first time must report emissions of toxic chemicals and power plants are proving the worst violators, according to Toxic Release Inventory figures.
The releases at each of the Public Service Co. of Colorado’s seven power plants dwarf most of the emissions documented in last year’s Environmental Protection Agency report. According to the TRI figures, emissions of 10 chemicals PSC must report totaled 1.5 million pounds at the Cherokee power plant in Denver and 1.1 million pounds at the Hayden power plant.
By comparison, the Kodak plant near Fort Collins had the highest release in 1997, the most recent year data was available, at 659,545 pounds.
Yet the TRI doesn’t indicate how dangerous the releases might be, said Joyel Dhieux, TRI coordinator for EPA’s Denver office.
“The one drawback to the TRI database is it does not assign risk. The quantity of a release does not equate to the risk associated, because you could have a small release of a more toxic chemical,” she said.
The inventory was created in 1986 so the public would have information about what’s being released in their community. The people in the community have to decide what they are willing to live with, she said.
“It’s really up to the public to learn more; … it’s up to the public to determine if that is a concern.”
The TRI database covers 650 toxic chemicals, but unless a certain level of a compound is processed, its emissions don’t have to be reported.
PSC was required to report on 10 chemicals – barium, copper, lead, manganese, zinc, ammonia, chlorine, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen fluoride and chlorine dioxide.
The company is required to submit the information to the EPA by July 1.