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Report: Millions of pounds of chemicals released in Virginia

Tons of toxic materials are being released by Fredericksburg-area industries, companies and military installations, according to a state report.

The Toxics Release Inventory, put out last week by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, includes releases in air, water and on land.

The report for 2012—the latest information available—includes information on more than a dozen area sites. In some cases, those materials were managed on in-house, or sent elsewhere for recycling, treatment or disposal.

The report cautions that the release data alone are not sufficient to determine potential risks to human health and the environment.

The DEQ says it uses the information to target sites for projects to reduce pollution at its source, and to improve how the materials are managed.

Some examples in the region:

  • Fort A.P. Hill reported releasing 29,763 pounds of nitroglycerin, a component of explosives, on its firing ranges. The base covers about 76,000 acres in Caroline and Essex counties.
  • JCI Jones Chemicals in Caroline reported 312 pounds of chlorine, which was recycled on site.
  • Marine Corps Base Quantico, spread across Stafford, Prince William and Fauquier counties, reported releasing 59,274 pounds of lead and lead compounds on its firing ranges. Those fall into a separate category in the report—persistent bioaccumulative toxics—which remain in the environment for years and can build up in living tissue.
  • Another 197,857 pounds of mostly solvents and aromatic compounds associated with ranges and operations, along with 384 pounds of aromatic compounds associated with burning, were included.
  • Birchwood Power Facility in King George County reported releasing 5,043 pounds of 11 toxic chemicals—including ammonia, copper zinc and hydrochloric acid—into the air from the coal-fired plant off State Route 3. Another 740,939 pounds of chemicals were managed at the plant; 52,191 pounds were transferred off site for treatment. The plant is co-owned and operated by J–POWER and General Electric.
  • Masco Cabinetry in Culpeper County released 31,873 pounds of the solvents toluene and xylene into the air. Of that, 1,722 pounds were sent elsewhere for treatment.
  • Rowe Concrete’s ready-mix plant in Spotsylvania County reported air release of 4,801 pounds of nitrate compounds.
  • Carry-On Trailer Corp. in Westmoreland County released 14,172 pounds of chemicals into the air. That included ether and benzene compounds, manganese and nickel. It treated 19,712 pounds of materials on site, and transferred 3,429 pounds elsewhere for treatment.

According to the report, 33 million pounds of chemicals were released at more than 400 sites across Virginia during 2012. That was down 16.7 percent from 2011.

About 65 million pounds were transferred elsewhere for treatment, recycling, energy recovery or disposal—down 5 percent from 2011. Also, 775 million pounds of toxic chemicals were managed onsite, up 3 percent.

Some 207,000 pounds of persistent bioaccumulative toxics were released in 2012.

Read the report:

Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431