Results of the 2006 National Pollution Inventory

Thursday, 04 May, 2006

The 2006 National Pollution Inventory (NPI) has shown that the majority of measured contaminants and emissions being discharged into Australia's environment is decreasing, particularly in relation to mining operations and water management.

The 2006 NPI collates publicly available information for the 2004-05 period from Australian, state and territory governments, collected at more than 3700 facilities.

The NPI is released by the Department of the Environment and Heritage annually and used to track the presence of 90 substances in the nation's air, land and water resources.

Acting Environment Minister Warren Truss said, in February, the report indicated that the water management techniques being introduced to sewage and wastewater treatment plants near the Murray Darling Basin had reduced the amount of phosphorous entering the environment by 31%.

Similarly, levels of arsenic and chromium III compounds associated with metal ore mining had significantly decreased.

"Changes in emissions can be due to variations in facility operations, better estimation of emissions or the installation of new pollution control equipment," Truss said.

However, the levels of the petrochemical compound benzene were reported as having increased by 33% from the previous reporting period, 2003-04.

Truss claimed the increased levels were due to increases in manufacturing and processing activities, although benzene is also a vehicle exhaust pollutant.

Truss said new national fuel standards introduced at the beginning of January imposed strict limitations on the use of benzene in petrol and would help reduce emissions.

Truss said the NPI was an important reference point that could help industries benchmark their environmental performance against competitors.

Stringent regulations regarding emissions have also increased the number of businesses reporting on their own emissions, as improved monitoring techniques help companies avoid environmental penalties.

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