The EPAs Toxic Release Inventory tracks the discharge of nearly 650 toxic chemicals from more than 23,000 industrial and government facilities nationwide.
Chemical releases by industries in Floyd, Bartow, Polk, Gordon, Catoosa, Chattooga and Walker counties increased 23 percent from 2004, the reports show.
Some of the chemicals are known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects and adverse environmental effects, according to the EPA.
A handful of the chemicals released by area industries in 2005 were PBTs, or Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxins. PBTs may be carcinogenic but also remain in the body after being ingested. Mercury in fish, for example, can pass to humans if eaten.
News Publishing Co. reporters recently spoke with the industries that generated the most chemicals in 2005, as reported by the EPA.
To search for chemical releases by county, visit the EPAs TRI Explorer.
To learn more about cancer-causing air toxins, visit the EPA Web site.
Bartow County Top toxic-chemical producers for 2005:
1. Georgia Power Plant Bowen, Cartersville - 20.4 million pounds, up 22 percent.
2. Gerdau Ameristeel, Cartersville - 86,110 pounds, down 11 percent.
3. Morgan Truck Body LLC, Rydal 54,666 pounds, up 10 percent.
Two-thirds of the industrial pollution generated in Northwest Georgia during 2005 came from Bartow County, home to Georgia Powers Plant Bowen.
Toxic releases from Bowen surged to 20.4 million pounds in 2005, up 22 percent from the previous year. All of the plants toxic releases rose, with the exception of sulfuric acid, which remained unchanged from 2004.
The bulk of the waste more than 18 million pounds of it was dispersed into the air.
Utility officials attributed the increase to a change in the chemical content of coal burned to make power at Plants Bowen and Plant Hammond near Rome, as well as an increase in electricity demand.
The coal content changed. Coal varies and it may not be the same each time we get it, said Georgia Power spokesman Curtis Hart. Sulfur was up, as well as chlorine in the coal we got that year. That is basically why those emissions went up.
Georgia Power plans to install more than $1.3 billion in pollution-control equipment at the plants to cut sulfur dioxide emissions. The equipment, however, is not presently in place.
Barium compounds and hydrochloric and sulfuric acids made up more than half of the output.
The plants production of recognized carcinogens included: 113,171 pounds of chromium compounds, up 25 percent; 79,901 pounds of nickel compounds, up 8 percent; and 71,000 pounds of arsenic, up 34 percent.
Bartows second highest toxic-chemical producer was Gerdau Ameristeel, which supplies structural steel mainly to the commercial-construction industry.
In 2005, the Cartersville mill generated 86,110 pounds of toxins, an 11 percent reduction from the previous year. All of the waste was emitted into the air.
The mills zinc emissions dropped 9 percent to 76,973 pounds. Lead emissions dropped 46 percent to 3,503 pounds, and nickel output declined 5 percent to 49 pounds. Minor releases of mercury, copper and manganese were reported.
Our quarterly testing found that the facility operates at or below the levels required by the EPA and Georgia EPD, said Allen Silkwood, environmental specialist at the mill. We continue to improve our production processes to further reduce emissions.
Third on the list of Bartow polluters was Morgan Truck Body LLC, which manufactures delivery truck bodies in Rydal.
The plant released 54,666 pounds of toxins in 2005, a 10 percent spike from the previous year.
Air emissions included: 535 pounds of chlorodifluoromethane, up 10 percent, as well as 124 pounds of copper and seven pounds of chromium.
Floyd County Top toxic-chemical producers for 2005:
1. Georgia Power Plant Hammond, Rome - 4.6 million pounds, up 57 percent.
2. Temple-Inland linerboard mill, Rome - 3.6 million pounds, up 4 percent.
3. Metal Container Corp., Rome 241,061 pounds, up 27 percent
Georgia Powers Plant Hammond led the 2005 list of toxic-chemical polluters in Floyd County.
Hammond generated 4.6 million pounds of toxic releases that year, a 57 percent spike from 2004. More than 3.7 million pounds of the waste was emitted into the air.
Toxic releases at Hammond included: 3.1 million pounds of hydrochloric acid, up 106 percent; 401,990 pounds of barium compounds, up 7 percent; and 310,000 pounds of sulfuric acid, up 3 percent.
Releases of known or suspected carcinogens included: 59,766 pounds of chromium compounds, up 5 percent; 31,764 pounds of lead compounds, up 25 percent; and 53,630 pounds of nickel compounds, up 5 percent.
Mercury releases dropped slightly to 265 pounds.
Second in line among Floyd polluters was Temple-Inland, which operates a linerboard mill near Plant Hammond off of Alabama Highway.
The mill generated 3.6 million pounds of toxic chemicals in 2005, a 4 percent increase from the previous year. More than 3.1 million pounds of the waste was emitted into the air.
Toxic releases from the mill included: 2.7 million pounds of methanol, up 3 percent; 276,300 pounds of manganese compounds, up 45 percent; and 164,550 pounds of ammonia, down 5 percent.
Releases of known or suspected carcinogens included: 110,020 pounds of acetaldehyde, up 7 percent; 33,000 pounds of formaldehyde, up 17 percent; and 9,177 pounds of lead compounds, down 3 percent.
Temple-Inland spokesperson Carolyn Elmore attributed the overall increase to an 11 percent spike in production at the plant during 2005.
Hoods were added to three wood-pulp washing lines at the mill in April 2006 to trap methanol and other gases emitted during production, she said.
Since the installation of the hoods, the company has reduced methanol emissions by approximately 14 percent in 2006, Elmore said. The company anticipates that methanol emissions will be reduced further in 2007.
The plants manganese discharges result from fuel combustion, Elmore said, and much of it is captured through on-site handling facilities.
Metal Container Corp. was third among Floyd polluters in 2005.
The plant, which produces cans for Anheuser-Busch beers and other beverages, generated 241,061 pounds of toxins in 2005, a 27 percent increase from the previous year.
Air emissions included: 129,524 pounds of certain glycol ethers, up 33 percent, and 110,793 pounds of n-butyl alcohol, up 20 percent.
Other releases were: 736 pounds of manganese, up 50 percent, as well as small quantities of lead and hydrogen fluoride.
In 2005, the MCC Rome plants increased emissions are attributed to natural gas curtailments caused by the 2005 hurricanes, which restricted the use of environmental-control equipment, plant manager Thomas Schranz said. Despite that, the MCC Rome plant was still below government allowed emissions limits.
Polk County Top toxic-chemical producers for 2005:
1. HON Co., Cedartown - 141,900 pounds, down 4 percent.
2. Engineered Fabrics Co., Rockmart - 60,281 pounds, up 12 percent.
3. Sheboygan Paint Co Inc., Cedartown - 27,981 pounds, down 206 percent.
Almost every industry in Polk reduced its total toxic chemical output in 2005, according to the EPA.
The HON Co., which makes office equipment at its Cedartown facility, emitted 141,900 pounds of toxins in 2005, a 4 percent drop from the previous year. The waste is released during painting and equipment cleaning processes, said plant manager Todd Murphy.
Air emissions were: 104,280 pounds of 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, down 7 percent; 25,430 pounds of m-xylene, up 6 percent; and 12,190 pounds of p-xylene, up 6 percent.
Thanks to a reduction of chemicals and solvents used in the painting process, (the plants) resources are conserved, Murphy said. The result is less waste, less cost and a smarter environmental strategy.
Engineered Fabrics Co. in Rockmart, a fuel tank supplier for the U.S. military, put out 60,281 pounds of toluene in 2005, a 12 percent increase from the previous year. Nearly all of the waste was emitted into air.
And Sheboygan Paint Co., which produces custom-formulated coatings at its Cedartown plant, generated 27,981 pounds of toxins in 2005, a 206 percent drop from the previous year.
Air emissions included: 14,410 pounds of xylene, up 14 percent; 4,830 pounds of toluene, up 24 percent; and 2,540 pounds of n-butyl alcohol, down 7 percent.
Chattooga County Top toxic-chemical producers for 2005:
1. Mount Vernon Mills Inc., Trion - 185,384 pounds, up 11 percent.
2. Best Manufacturing Co., Menlo - 41,856 pounds, down .22 percent.
Mount Vernon Mills Inc.s apparel fabrics division in Trion released 185,384 pounds of toxins in 2005, an 11 percent increase from the previous year. The facility produces denim and finished-piece goods.
Among the chemical releases that showed slight reductions in 2005 were: 85,643 pounds of zinc, 44,650 pounds of barium compounds and 33,489 pounds of copper compounds. The waste the byproducts of coal combustion was stored at an on-site landfill, said Ron Beegle, the companys corporate director of environmental affairs.
The amount of coal we used that year may have been up. It (toxic waste) is all directly proportional to our coal combustion, Beegle said.
The facility also emitted 20,782 pounds of ammonia into the air in 2005. Ammonia output from the plant was not reported by the EPA in 2004.
Beegle said the introduction of the chemical in 2005 was due to the launch of a flame-retardant business at the plant.
Best Manufacturing Co., a glove manufacturer in Menlo, put out 41,856 pounds of toxins in 2005, a slight reduction from the previous year.
Its releases of xylene dropped 5 percent to 37,796 pounds. The facility also dumped 4,000 pounds of lead at a hazardous waste landfill in 2005, doubling its 2004 output.
Gordon County Top toxic-chemical producers for 2005:
1. Pine Hall Brick Co., Gordon - 23,261 pounds, up 646 percent.
2. Apache Mills Inc., Calhoun - 21,610 pounds, down 11 percent.
3. Omnova Solutions, Calhoun - 13,862 pounds, up 73 percent.
Pine Hall Brick Co.s toxic releases in Gordon increased nearly seven fold in 2005.
The brick-manufacturing plant emitted 23,261 pounds of hydrogen fluoride and hydrochloric acid into air that year, compared to the 3,116 pounds it released in 2004.
Harold Newman, the plants vice president of technical services, attributed the increase to a $20 million expansion of the facility in 2004.
Newman said the plant overstated its output of hydrogen fluoride in 2005, and the facilitys actual toxic-release total was 6,680 pounds that year.
We were still well below the EPA requirements for a minor (emissions) source, Newman said.
Apache Mills Inc., a rubber- and plastic-floor mat manufacturer, saw an 11 percent drop in its 2005 toxic releases, which totaled 21,610 pounds. All of the waste was emitted into the air.
Omnova Solutions scored third among Gordon County polluters in 2005, generating 13,862 pounds of toxins, a 73 percent increase from the previous year.
Air emissions were 10,514 pounds of styrene, up 114 percent, and 2,794 pounds of 1,3-butadiene, down 10 percent.
The facility, which makes latex tiles, also released 554 pounds of ammonia into the air and into Oothcalooga Creek in 2005.
Walker County Top toxic-chemical producers for 2005:
1. Blue Bird North Georgia, LaFayette - 41,120 pounds, up 7 percent.
2. Dow Reichhold Kensington, Chickamauga - 29,522 pounds, up 3 percent.
3. Roper Corp., LaFayette - 14,807 pound, up 35 percent.
Blue Bird North Georgia, a school-bus manufacturer in LaFayette, put out 41,120 pounds of toxins in 2005, a 7 percent increase from 2004.
Air emissions included: 10,865 pounds of antimony compounds, up 107 percent; 10,865 pounds of chromium compounds, down 16 percent; and 10,457 pounds of xylene, up 13 percent.
Dow Reichhold Kensington plant in Chickamauga, which produces specialty latex for commercial uses, generated 29,522 pounds of toxins in 2005, a 3 percent increase from the previous year.
Air emissions included: 11,913 pounds of 1,3-butadiene, up 8 percent; 10,155 pounds of acrylonitrile, up 22 percent; and 5,748 pounds of styrene, down 14 percent.
The facility also released 1,300 pounds of ammonia into West Chickamauga Creek in 2005.
Roper Corp.s LaFayette plant, which produces gas- and electric- stoves and wall ovens, put out 14,807 pounds of toxins in 2005, a 35 percent increase from the previous year.
The plants output of the carcinogen nickel rose 35 percent to 9,865 pounds. Most of it was deposited into a landfill, with 250 pounds emitted into the air. The plant also generated five pounds of lead that year.
Other chemical releases were 4,933 pounds of cobalt compounds, up 35 percent, and four pounds of manganese.
These are a reflection of the volume of production thats coming through the plant, company president Scott Ossewaarde said. As our sales and production volumes go up ... it creates more jobs.
Babb Lumber generated 500 pounds of copper at its wood-preserving facility in Ringgold in 2005, the same as the year before.
The company was the only industrial source in Catoosa County reported by the EPA.
Copper is what we use to pressure treat lumber, spokesperson David Burns said. It is the primary ingredient that protects lumber from rot and termites.
The copper is in a liquid form and leaves the property in stormwater runoff, he said. About 250 pounds of the waste entered Chickamauga Creek in 2005.
The Rome News-Tribune, Calhoun Times, Cedartown Standard, Walker County Messenger, Rockmart Journal and Catoosa County News contributed to this report. EPA-CLASSIFIED CARCINOGENS
Inorganic arsenic inhalation has been strongly associated with lung cancer, while ingestion of inorganic arsenic has been linked to a form of skin cancer and also to bladder, liver, and lung cancer.
It is a human carcinogen, resulting in an increased risk of lung cancer.
Studies have reported an increased risk of lung and nasal cancers from exposure to nickel refinery dusts and nickel subsulfide.
Nickel refinery dust and nickel subsulfide are classified as Group A, human carcinogens.
Classified as a probable human carcinogen.
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency