RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The Environmental Protection Agency released Toxic Release Inventory data for the Pacific Southwest region on Tuesday, which includes Nevada. The Silver State ranks second nationwide, based on pounds of toxic chemicals released and transferred.
The EPA has been releasing these annual TRI reports since 1988, after the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act. These reports don't really indicate impact on public health or the environment, but it does allow transparency so the public knows what type of toxic chemicals may be near them.
Nevada produced about 69% of the nation's gold in 2012, making it the third leading gold producer in the world, according to the Nevada Mining Association. The concentration and quantity of precious metals in the state is reflected in the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory.
It ranks Nevada as the second highest for TRI's, which include chemical release, such as arsenic and mercury. In 2012, a total of 136 Nevada facilities reported 286 million pounds of TRI's, a decrease when compared to 2011.
Nearly all of those releases come from metal mining on land, and three of the top-five TRI releasing facilities are owned by Newmont Mining Corporation, which operates large, open gold mines.
Mary Korbi from Newmont Mining says TRI numbers describe naturally-occurring minerals in rocks that are moved from their original location, and they report these figures to the EPA annually for transparency. "So, if you move a lot of tons, then your numbers will climb up. If you have a decrease in your production, the numbers will typically go down."
The EPA, Newmont Mining, and the Nevada Mining Association say TRI reports do not indicate risks to human health or the environment. Mining companies must adhere to strict state and federal regulations to keep toxic materials contained.
In an e-mail statement, Nevada Mining Association President Tim Crowley says more than 99% of all EPA-defined TRI's within Nevada are placed in monitored engineering facilities and protected from exposure to the surrounding environment.
The EPA defines moving rock around as release, even though no toxins are released. They make this large database available to the public, and those at home can explore this information by location, chemical, and even specific facilities at the EPA's website