25 percent of auto, petroleum, pulp and metal industries are violating Clean Air Act

Environmental Defense Fund analysis of sector facility indexing data finds violators.

provided by Environmental Defense Fund

n analysis released today by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) using the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new Sector Facility Indexing database shows that a quarter of the industries listed in the sector database are in "significant noncompliance" with the Clean Air Act. The user-friendly database (www.epa.gov/oeca/sfi) enables the public to compare enforcement, environmental release, and spill data for facilities within and between five industrial sectors: automobile assembly, petroleum refining, pulp manufacturing, iron and steel mills, and the smelting and refining of nonferrous metal (i.e., aluminum, copper, lead, and zinc).

"It is astounding that 25% of the types of major facilities covered by the Sector Facility Indexing database currently are in significant noncompearance with the Clean Air Act," said EDF senior engineer Lois Epstein. Integrated iron and steel mills have the worst current Clean Air Act violation record (63%) of the facilities in the database. "Now that the public, including lending institutions and other interested parties, can get state and federal enforcement information easily for particular facilities, those firms with violations should be better motivated to comply with environmental laws." Additional information on these facilities, including their cancer and non-cancer hazards, is available through EDF's new chemical score card at www.scorecard.org.

The EDF data analysis released today also showed that over 40% of the facilities covered by the database had a spill large enough to require reporting in the past two years, with the worst record again at integrated iron and steel mills (70%). In contrast, iron and steel "mini-mills" have the best spill record, with only 16.5% reporting spills in the past two years. Petroleum refineries have the second worst current Clean Air Act compliance and spill records.

The Sector Facility Indexing database covers 653 facilities, representing 3% of the approximately 23,000 manufacturers reporting to EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and 24% of the total releases reported to TRI. It includes enforcement data under three federal environmental statutes: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act which covers solid and hazardous wastes. Because several industries and states opposed placing Sector Facility Indexing information on-line (raising concerns with data quality), EPA undertook an extensive data quality control effort. After both facilities and states reviewed and commented upon the data, EPA and states made changes on less than 5%.

"This new database tool provides the public with an excellent means to identify, for example, facilities with the greatest population density and environmental justice concerns, facilities with the best and worst enforcement, and spill records federally or within a particular state, and the states performing the most inspections," said Epstein.

"The Sector Facility Indexing (SFI) database is a model of government responsiveness to the public's need for accessible, facility-specific, environmental protection information. The SFI database should be expanded immediately to cover additional industrial sectors," said EDF senior attorney Kevin Mills.



Environmental Defense Fund Data Analysis Developed Using The Sector Facility Indexing Database: Clean Air Act Compliance And Spill Findings

Lois N. Epstein, P.E. Senior Engineer, May 8, 1998

Industrial Sector Clean Air Act significant* non-compliance (%)  Reportable spills within past 2 years (%) Number of facilities
Automobile Assembly 22  22  58
Integrated Iron and Steel Mills** 63  70  27
 Iron and Steel Mini-Mills**  24  16.5  91
Non-Ferrous Metals      
 17  52  23
 14  24   21
 0 (0 of 4)  50 (2 of 4)  4
 33 (1 of 3)  33 (1 of 3)   3
Petroleum Refining  34  64  179
Pulp Manufacturing  17  36  247
All of the Above 25  42  653

* Significant noncompliance means there are emissions that exceed allowable limits, and non-minor procedural violations (e.g., facilities that are not reporting required information); the significant noncompliance figures in the database are likely to be conservative, or low, because some facilities are not inspected and some states do not provide all required data to EPA.

** Integrated iron and steel mills produce steel from coke, iron, ore, and scrap, while iron and steel mini-mills use electric arc furnaces to produce steel from scrap and other materials.


1) Integrated iron and steel mills have the worst current Clean Air Act compliance record and the highest spill rate among the industries in the Sector Facility Indexing (SFI) database.

2) Petroleum refining facilities have the second worst current Clean Air Act compliance record and the second highest spill rate among the industries in the SFI database.

3) Nonferrous metal smelting and refining and pulp manufacturing facilities have the best current Clean Air Act compliance records among the industries in the SFI database, but noncompliance is still over 15% for these sectors.

4) Iron and steel mini-mills have the best spill rate among the industries in the SFI database (16.5% over the past two years); other industries in the database have at least a 20% spill rate for the past two years.

Source: US Environmental Protection Agency Sector Facility Indexing database (www.epa.gov/oeca/sfi)

  © 1998 Environmental Defense Fund. The Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national, NY-based nonprofit organization, represents 300,000 members. EDF links science, economics and law to create innovative, equitable and economically viable solutions to today's environmental problems. EDF Membership (800) 684-3322; www.edf.org; 257 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010.