Environment

Not-so-clean North Carolina generated 501.4 million pounds of chemical waste in 2018

Source: EPA

North Carolina’s industrial facilities emit or discharge an average of more than a half-ton of pollution per square mile, which places the state among the top third nationwide based on that measurement.

With 1,022 pounds per square mile, North Carolina is ranked 19th of 56 states and US territories, according to recent Toxics Release Inventory released by the EPA.

The Toxics Release Inventory is composed of 755 individual chemicals that the EPA has deemed significantly harmful to human health and the environment.

Companies, such as utilities, manufacturers and mining interests, that emit or discharge chemicals on the TRI list above certain thresholds must report the amounts, as well as their waste management and pollution prevention activities, to the EPA by July 1 of each year. Small companies, those employing fewer than 10 workers, are exempt from the reporting requirement.

 

 

However, the list of TRI chemicals is not comprehensive. The 2018 data do not reflect emissions and discharges of perfluorinated compounds — PFAS. The 2020 data will include PFAS as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act, passed by Congress in December 2019. Now industry is required to report production, management and disposal of any of the 172 types of PFAS.

There are 779 TRI facilities in North Carolina. Collectively, they generate 501.4 million pounds of waste. Nearly 40 million pounds are disposed of on-site, in the water, air, or on land. Fifteen million pounds are transported off-site. The majority — 446 million pounds — is recycled, treated or used for energy recovery.

New Hanover County tops the state in total pounds of chemicals “managed” — generated — with 183.3 million pounds. Fortron Industries, a chemical company, is the county’s largest pollution source; it disposed of more than 1.8 million pounds of chemicals, all of it off-site. Elementus Chromium disposed of 1.67 million pounds on-site.

Beaufort County has the largest TRI pollution source — PCS Phosphate, a mining company and chemical plant. In 2018 it disposed of or released 5.5 million pounds of chemicals, accounting for nearly all the the TRI pollutants in the county. About two-thirds of PCS Phosphate’s emissions enter the air; the rest are disposed of on land.

Here are the top 10 counties in pounds of chemicals generated. Scroll down for the entire list, pounds generated and largest pollution sources.

  1. New Hanover
  2. Catawba
  3. Guilford
  4. Person
  5. Forsyth
  6. Buncombe
  7. Haywood
  8. Rutherford
  9. Craven
  10. Martin

The TRI site can be a rabbit hole, so here’s a quick primer on how to dig deeper into the site:

Start on the main page

From here you can type in or click on North Carolina. The next page will give you a summary of North Carolina releases, emissions and disposal methods. It also lists the top five chemicals emitted into the air and discharged into the water.

If you want to search by county, you can click on the map on this page, or an easier way is to return to the main page, type in North Carolina and the county name.

For example, Columbus County shows there are five TRI facilities, which generate a total of 7 million pounds of chemicals; the largest pollution source is International Paper in Riegelwood, with 3 million pounds.

If you want to search by chemical, start on the Data and Tools page.

The TRI Explorer offers several search parameters, including geography, facility and chemical. After clicking on “User Selected Chemical,” I chose 1,4-Dioxane from the selection box.

The next page shows that 17,658 pounds of the compound were released in 2018 in North Carolina. Select “1,4-Dioxane” and you’ll see a list of companies that report discharging or emitting the compound.

 

 

Alternately click on the small arrows at the top of the 1,4-Dioxane column for more detail on air and water emissions.

And if you’re still hungry for more information, the TRI offers a deeper dive on “Factors to Consider When Using TRI Data.”

Below is a county-level summary. Not all counties have a TRI facility. If a county is listed as “0” that means its companies did not report any TRI chemicals in 2018.

Toxics Release Inventory, 2018    
COUNTYNO OF FACILITIESPOUNDS MANAGEDLARGEST POLLUTION SOURCEPOUNDS DISPOSED/ RELEASED ON-SITE/
OFF-SITE BY LARGEST POLLUTION SOURCE
ALAMANCE12349,300SOUTH ATLANTIC GALVANIZING93,558
ALEXANDER4187,700PIEDMONT COMPOSITES AND TOOLING23,010
ALLEGHENY100
ANSON53EDWARDS WOOD PRODUCTS3
ASHE2323,500UNITED CHEMI-CON1505,
BEAUFORT45,900,000PCS PHOSPHATE5,514,524
BERTIE37,100,000LEWISTON PROCESSING2,213,456
BLADEN85,100,000SMITHFIELD TAR HEEL2,9521,01
BRUNSWICK94,500,000CPI USA4,183,306
BUNCOMBE2314,900,000DUKE ENERGY STEAM PLANT3,180,810
BURKE116,000,000HEXION148,808
CABARRUS175,200,000VENATOR CHEMICALS343,347
CALDWELL63,700,000SHURTAPE TECHNOLOGIES247,577
CARTERET690,200PARKER MARINE37,047
CASWELL200
CATAWBA2623,300,000DUKE ENERGY MARSHALL2,291,146
CHATHAM82,100,000ARAUCO504,096
CHEROKEE4979TEAM INDUSTRIES184
CHOWAN2109,300REGULATOR MARINE97,117
CLAY12COLEMAN CABLE2
CLEVELAND201,400,000CORMTECH313,782
COLUMBUS57,000,000INTERNATIONAL PAPER RIEGELWOOD3,004,487
CRAVEN712,200,000INTERNATIONAL PAPER NEW BERN MILL678,361
CUMBERLAND1210,000,000CARGILL371,426
DARE24,000DARE COUNTY BOMB RANGE3,699
DAVIDSON11640,500ELECTRIC GLASS FIBER AMERICA14,269
DAVIE2219,600PALLET ONE1
DUPLIN9278,400HOUSE OF RAEFORD133,266
DURHAM126,400,000CREE27,944
EDGECOMBE83,700,000HC COMPOSITES45,316
FORSYTH2516,100,000ARDAGH METAL BEVERAGE 611,188
FRANKLIN43,900,000NOVOZYMES133,447
GASTON235,100,000DUKE ENERGY ALLEN148,454
GRANVILLE11364,300CERTAINTEED230,540
GUILFORD5717,300,000AKZONOBEL COATINGS141,374
HALIFAX611,000,000KAPSTONE KRAFT PAPER1,060,739
HARNETT515,400WARREN OIL7,977
HAYWOOD31,3900,000BLUE RIDGE PAPER2,516,225
HENDERSON173,700,000BLUE RIDGE METALS204,626
HERTFORD21,1400,000PERDUE FARMS160,741
HOKE100
IREDELL255,100,000TYSON FARMS53,438
JACKSON2104,700JACKSON PAPER186
JOHNSTON11560,800RAVEN ANTENNA/GLOBAL SKYWARE16,558
JONES14,600ROWMARK CUSTOM LAMINATIONS4,600
LEE82,100,000PILGRIM’S PRIDE789,161
LENOIR8872,300SANDERSON FARMS ST PAULS56,557
LINCOLN10821,900ROBERT BOSCH TOOL95,894
MACON200
MADISON100
MARTIN21,1800,000DOMTAR PAPER979,006
MCDOWELL3111,200BAXTER HEALTH CARE29,184
MECKLENBURG609,400,000CHARLOTTE PIPE AND FOUNDRY620,309
MITCHELL130,800BRP US8,079
MONTGOMERY7299,300UNILIN US205,691
MOORE453,700ERICO INTERNTAIONAL95
NASH133,800,000UNIVERSAL LEAF96,113
NEW HANOVER13183,300,000FORTRON INDUSTRIES1,859,946
NORTHAMPTON2553,600GEORGIA-PACIFIC CHEMICALS143,284
ONSLOW61,200,000CAMP LEJEUNE954,033
ORANGE5951,600ARMACELL1,065
PASQUOTANK200
PERQUIMANS15HARVEY POINT DEFENSE TESTING ACTIVITY5
PERSON716,800,000CPI USA2,301,448
PITT111,200,000GRADY WHITE BOATS155,466
RANDOLPH194,000,000ENERGIZER MANUFACTURING118,569
RICHMOND5663,000DUKE ENERGY SMITH ENERGY318,336
ROBESON112,800,000SANDERSON FARMS ST PAULS149,144
ROCKINGHAM106,500,000EDEN CUSTOM PROCESSING189,013
ROWAN215,700,000SOUTHERN CO ROWAN POWER PLANT78,010
RUTHERFORD913,600,000DUKE ENERGY ROGERS1,130,555
SAMPSON5234,100SMITHFIELD CLINTON67,664
SCOTLAND4890,000RAILROAD FRICTION414,769
STANLY9141,700MICHELIN AIRCRAFT25,292
STOKES210,500,000DUKE ENERGY BELEWS CREEK598,228
SURRY91,600,000WAYNE FARMS DOBSON FRESH PLANT225,834
SWAIN212,000NOT REPORTEDNOT REPORTED
UNION161,200,000OMNOVA SOLUTIONS110,521
VANCE571,200ARDAGH GLASS31,408
WAKE245,800,000KELLOG’S SNACKS153,732
WASHINGTON11MURPHY BROWN NEW COLONY MILL1
WAYNE9230,100GEORGIA-PACIFIC WOOD PRODUCTS61,546
WILKES81,800,000LOUISIANA PACIFIC314,583
WILSON7837,100ALLIANCE ONE INTERNATIONAL79,185
YANCEY219,000ALTEC450

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