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2011 TRI National Analysis: Large Aquatic Ecosystems - South Florida Geographic Initiative
TRI facilities in South Florida Geographic Initiative
Quick Facts for 2011
|Number of TRI Facilities:||101|
|Total On-site and Off-site Disposal
or Other Releases:
|2.5 million lbs|
|Total On-site:||2.2 million lbs|
|• Air:||1.6 million lbs|
|• Water:||17 thousand lbs|
|• Land:||525 thousand lbs|
|• Underground Injection:||29 thousand lbs|
|Total Off-site:||379 thousand lbs|
The area covered by the South Florida Geographic Initiative is home to two unique ecosystems: the Everglades and the Florida Keys coral reef ecosystem. Together, their watersheds cover an area of 17,900 square miles. The Everglades are the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. It is a significant breeding ground for wading birds and is home to a number of rare and endangered species. The Florida Keys coral reef ecosystem spans more than 330 miles providing habitat for over 6,000 marine species. It protects south Florida's shorelines from tropical storms and hurricanes, and sustains the region's fisheries, beaches, tourism, and recreation. The South Florida Geographic Initiative is a partnership program aimed at protecting and restoring the aquatic ecosystems of southern Florida.
South Florida ecosystem's health is threatened in part by its expanding suburban and agricultural development. Altered water flows throughout the region as well as pollutant loadings of nutrients and mercury have had significant impacts on the area's ecosystems. Fish consumption advisories or bans are in place for many species because of mercury contamination and mercury concentrations in many birds and mammals were found to be highly elevated.
Mercury emission source studies indicate that atmospheric deposition, primarily from medical and municipal incinerators, is the major mercury emission source in South Florida. Mercury air releases from TRI facilities in 2011 in South Florida were reported from cement plants, electric utilities and food processors. Electric utilities also report some surface water discharges of mercury compounds.
The largest total TRI air releases in the region in 2011 were of methanol, from citrus and sugar cane processing facilities, and ammonia, primarily from electric power plants. Total air releases in the region decreased by 66% from 2003 to 2011, including a 26% decrease from 2010 to 2011. Surface water discharges, however, increased, by 27% from 2010 to 2011, mainly of ammonia due to one food processor reporting for the first time for 2011.
On-site land disposal or other releases were reported from food processors, mainly atrazine (a herbicide), and pendimethalin (a pesticide) from sugar cane processors. On-site land disposal or other releases decreased by 75% from 2003 to 2011, although they increased by 7% from 2010 to 2011.
The efforts underway to restore the South Florida ecosystem include restoring natural water flows, controlling nutrient loading, minimizing habitat alteration, and reducing mercury contamination. To learn more about ongoing efforts to protect South Florida, visit: www.epa.gov/region4/water/southflorida.
Top Five Chemicals by Environmental Medium South Florida Geographic Initiative, 2011