March 20, 2009

EPA: Racine County cuts toxic chemicals by 53,000 pounds from 2006 to 2007

Here's a shameless request ...

The Environmental Protection Agency put out a report Thursday on the release of toxic chemicals in states and counties throughout the U.S., including Racine County.

The agency says toxic chemicals released into water or air dropped 5 percent nationally from 2006 to 2007. It also lists Racine County as average compared to other Wisconsin counties.

You can see reports on Racine County here and on Racine County businesses here.

So, here's the request. If there are any scientists out there, or people who like digging into these sorts of reports, take a look and let us know what this means for Racine County and Wisconsin. There's a lot of technical jargon and chemical names that really need an expert's view to be boiled down.

Here's some initial findings:

1. Racine County's total release of toxic chemicals was reported at 180,388 pounds. That's down 24 percent from 2006's total of 238,118 pounds, but up from 2005's total of 127,216 pounds and 2004's total of 110,813 pounds. You can see previous years using the form here.

2. Looking at "Total On and Off-site Disposal or Other Releases," the former Maple Leaf Farms in Raymond was the county's biggest polluter. The duck farm accounts for 77,821 pounds of toxic chemicals.

3. American Roller Co. in Union Grove was second with 29,300 pounds, followed by JohnsonDiversey at 24,044 pounds.

4. JohnsonDiversey reported 4,627 pounds of "point-source air emissions" and 8,937 pounds of "fugitive air emissions." It had the highest total of "fugitive air emissions" in the county, and was second in "point-source" emissions behind Fibertech Inc., of Franksville, which had 9,488 pounds of "point-source" emissions.

5. SC Johnson's Waxdale reported 14,413 pounds, including 500 pounds of "fugitive air emissions" and 2,101 pounds of "point-source air emissions."

If you have a minute, and are inclined to understanding these sorts of numbers, please take a look and report back. I'm interested in the context of the numbers - what's a lot of pollution? Or a little? Do any of the numbers jump out as unusual? Or is this a good sign that Racine County businesses are taking care of their toxic pollution?

You can send responses to:, or post them in the comments.


  1. Professional Engineer3/20/2009 8:06 AM

    The TRI (Toxics Release Inventory) data is submitted annually by all manufacturing plants in the USA that emits any of a long list of chemicals. The county and national trends have shown that U.S. industries are getting cleaner every year. Racine County is no exception. The irony here is that you would never know it because politicians, environmentalists and media never mention this incredible progress. It is always negative, or so you would believe.

    As far as the specific releases and the nature of the chemicals emitted in Racine County, the vast majority are organic solvents that quickly disperse in the atmosphere and cause no chronic or acute health problems. When compared to the vapor losses and incomplete combustion byproducts from gasoline, these numbers are tiny.

    The problem with the 53,000 pound reduction is that the numbers were driven by manufacturing closures and cutbacks with job losses, not innovation/regulation/press releases.

    So what appears to be "good" is really "not good". IMHO.

  2. No worries after Cap and trade is passed there will be more plant closings and more lay offs.
    That way even more will be able to ride KRM to find the jobs in Illinois, and Milwaukee! What you mean Cap and Trade will kill thousands of jobs and cost trillions of dollars?
    You mean Obama might have no clue about how the free market works?
    Is that why he likes being a Marxist?

  3. Thanks, PE, for your knowledge on this subject.

    Colt - Here's what I'm wondering about cap and trade? Just as J-wax has bought up much of the pollution rights for Racine County (and part of the reason it's difficult to bring new manufacturing to the area) - will they also buy up energy trade rights? Do you know if the legislation coming down the pike will allow for a monopolistic hold on energy trade in the area?

  4. When you only measure limited chemicals from limited sources, it makes a nice report. Shipping manufacturing to China and food production to Brazil has improved the local environmental issues in the area of pollution. Now our economic base can only support a stagnant population living on service jobs. Regional electrical demand is also down for the first time in 60 years, and my electrical consumption is at an all time high. My home is now the job place, and we don’t report chemical use, yet.