Pollutant Inventory released

Thursday, 16 February, 2006

The amount of phosphorus entering the Murray Darling Basin from sewerage and water treatment plants fell 31 per cent during 2004-05, the reduction reported in the annual National Pollutant Inventory which was released recently.

The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) is publicly available data compiled by the Australian, State and Territory governments from information submitted by more than 3,700 facilities across the country. It helps the community and industry track emissions to air, land and water of 90 different substances from facilities across Australia.

Acting Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Warren Truss, who was on hand at the NPI's release, said the NPI also showed a drop in emissions for just over half the substances reported under the system. Substances that had a significant decrease in emissions included arsenic and compounds and chromium III compounds mainly from the metal ore mining sector, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and formaldehyde mainly from the non-ferrous metal manufacturing sector.

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

"One of the more widely reported pollutants, benzene, rose 33 per cent over the past year, reflecting an increase in manufacturing and processing activities. However, the Australian Government had introduced strict new fuel quality limits on benzene in petrol which should see reductions in emissions from sources such as motor fuels.

"Although states and territories are responsible for controlling emissions from industry facilities, the Australian Government is actively tackling benzene emissions from other sources. As of 1 January this year, Australian fuel can contain only one per cent benzene, which brings us in line with world best standards," Truss said.

The latest data on industry emissions across Australia is available on the NPI web site at www.npi.gov.au. Anyone can access information about sources and amounts of pollution in their areas by keying in their postcodes.

Truss said this information is a powerful tool that allows communities to better understand the state of their local environment. It also helps industries to benchmark their own emissions against their competitors and work towards improving their environmental performance.

Facilities are obliged to report their emissions if they exceed certain levels. The number reporting each year is steadily increasing as more companies become aware of their obligations.

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