Report: Nine local zip codes included in top 25 Va. areas with high air pollution levels


LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) - A new report has named nine local zip codes among the Top 25 Virginia Localities with the Highest Toxic Air Emissions.

The report, released Wednesday in Newport News by the Sierra Club, a grassroots environmental organization, says the four zip codes combined had over 3.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants released into the air.

Officials say the 2017 report is based on the Environmental Protection Agency's 2015 Toxic Release Inventory, which collects air pollution data for available zip codes in the country.

The data is self-reported by the companies releasing the pollutants, according to the Sierra Club, and then is analyzed for the final report.

The nine zip codes in our area included in the report are:

  • Covington
  • Big Island
  • Amherst
  • Danville
  • Gladys
  • Galax
  • Narrows
  • Radford
  • Buchanan

Some of the biggest polluters named in the report are MeadWestvaco of Virginia in Covington, the ammunition plant in Radford, Georgia-Pacific in Big Island, Grief Packaging LLC in Amherst, and Celanese Acetate LLC in Narrows.

Lynchburg was not listed in the report because of "a significant drop in toxic air pollution output dropping by 90 percent from its 2014 numbers for unknown reasons."

Danville and Galax are two new zip codes that had not previously been on the list.

The armory in Radford is quoted as being one of the biggest corporations to pollute air, water, and land.

"This factory is also responsible for almost 450 thousand pounds of toxic air pollution released for a total of more than 10 million pounds of total toxics released to air, water and land or around 25 percent of total toxic pollution in Virginia," the report said.

The factory is listed as the number one toxic water polluters in Virginia.

Even though Lynchburg is not among the top air polluted zip codes, Griffin Pipe is listed as biggest toxic land facility in the state.

"It is our intention that this report will help inform the public and public officials of where toxic air pollution is a problem across the state. TRI data presented in this manner may be effective in fostering a healthy public debate that can contribute to greater and swifter reductions of toxic pollution emissions," the report says.

In the organization's 2016 report, Lynchburg, Amherst, Big Island, Covington, Narrows, Gladys, Radford, and Buchanan were listed in the highly polluted zip codes.

In the 2015 report from the Sierra Club, based on data from 2013, Lynchburg, Amherst, Radford, Big Island, Buchanan, Covington, and Narrows were all among the zip codes with the highest pollutants.

For more information on the Sierra Club, click here.

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