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Differences, Limitations, and Uses of Preliminary Dataset

How do TRI Explorers Preliminary Dataset Reports Differ from Conventional Reports?

Preliminary dataset reports are composite reports. The report is built with data from two different years. The reports contain the most recent processed data available from facilities who have reported during the past 2 years. For submissions due July 1 of the current calendar year and which EPA has completed processing, that data will be displayed in TRI Explorer. Any facilities who reported the previous year and EPA has not completed processing of any new submissions, the previous years data will be displayed for that facility. The absence of current year data is not necessarily an indication the facility has not submitted a current report or is out of compliance.

What TRI Explorer capabilities are not available?

  • No totals are provided other than individual facility data;
  • If a report has not been submitted or processed for a facilitys 2009 releases, RY 2008 data, if available, is being used as a placeholder;
  • Only the Facility Release, Waste Transfer, and Waste Quantity Reports, as well as the Facility Profile Report and associated graphs are available;
  • On the TRI Explorer user interface for the preliminary dataset only, most functions are disabled or grayed out until the 2009 National Analysis data are posted. TRI Explorer reports for reporting year 2008 and earlier still retain all functionality.
  • Why are all TRI Explorer capabilities not available?

    (1)Most TRI Explorer reports are summary reports that provide totals for the various chemical release and waste management categories. Summary data alone from a partial dataset have no significant value and can be easily misinterpreted. For this reason, only individual facility-level data are being included for 2009; no totals are shown for any release categories.

    (2)Although all of EPAs TRI data access tools draw data from the same source, TRI Explorer normally pre-processes the datasets to avoid double counting material transferred from one TRI facility to another TRI facility. Except for facility reports, double counting is factored into the summarized data in each row of all conventional TRI Explorer reports at the state or national level. Only the TRI Explorer reports which present individual, non-aggregated, facility-level data are available for queries with the preliminary 2009 dataset.

    How might multiyear release values be misinterpreted?

    The preliminary dataset presented in TRI Explorer could be misinterpreted if a column of release values was totaled without additional considerations. Some of the reasons include:
  • Data may not be displayed for submissions still being processed by EPA and if the facility is a new facilities or the facility has not reported during the previous 2 years.
  • Prior year data may be displayed for a facility which no longer meets TRI reporting requirements.
  • Both current year data and prior year data may be displayed for operations which moved to a new facility operating under a new identification number.
  • Significant decreases or increases of a facilities releases for the current year and only prior year data currently available for display.
  • Transfers to TSD facilities which also report to TRI (i.e. double counting) have not been factored into the TRI Explorer using a preliminary dataset.
  • A facility may have changed the listing under which the chemical is being reported. Some chemicals may be reported under either their elemental form or as being contained in a compound. In this situation a current year entry may appear for how the chemical is currently being reported and a prior year entry for how the was chemical was previously being reported. This difference can be more readily observed when the data is filtered at either the country or zip code level.
  • Additional local knowledge is required to determine which of the prior year data shown in a TRI Explorer composite report may not be appropriate surrogate data. The above situations will not apply to the dataset released with the National Analysis.

    What do unexpected rows of data mean?

    An entire row in gray (or reduced font size when printed) - This means a facility reported one or more specific chemicals in the prior year and EPA has not processed a report(s) for the same TRI listed chemical(s) in the current year.

    A facility is listed twice in the same report - At least one chemical form for the facility has been process for the current year and at least one chemical reported in the prior year is either still being processed or the facility is not reporting the chemical as being released in the current year. For example, if a facility reported both Arsenic and Nickel releases in a prior year and only is required to report Nickel releases in the current year and the current year report has been processed by EPA, then the current year row will only include quantities for the recently reported Nickel releases and the grayed out row will only display quantities associated with the prior year Arsenic releases.

    The same facility is displayed both when filtered for a specific TRI covered industry and by the category "No TRI NAICS Code" - This can occur when a facility has submitted a form for a specific chemicals in the current year and has not reported the same chemical in recent years. TRI Explorer eliminates this behavior with the dataset used for the National Analysis. At any time of the year, when a facility filter is applied, quantities displayed are only for those releases reported under the specific industry selected.

    Prior year data sometimes appear before and sometimes after the current year data. This is a known situation with TRI Explorer displaying the composite data. This is associated with an alphabetic sort of the chemicals released by an individual facility and does not affect the quantities displayed.

    How might the composite reports be used?

    If a query is at a community level, the application of local knowledge may permit a level of confidence acceptable to the user that all TRI data has been submitted or that reasonable estimates are appropriate for a specific community. For example:

    If in a specific county four facilities reported in 2008, it will be readily apparent if all four have submitted their 2009 reports. Local knowledge could be applied if any new facilities started operating or if facilities that previously were below TRI thresholds had material changes and may enter the reporting universe. If the later conditions do not apply, then for all practical matters, the county has a complete set of 2009 data.

    If in the above situation one of the four facilities has releases significantly lower than the other three and is the only facility for which 2009 data is not displayed. It might be appropriate to use the facilitys 2008 data as a surrogate. Again community level knowledge is critical if any total 2009 estimates are made.

    The above examples are also applicable when the community are releasers of a specific chemical, a specific geography or a combination of these factors.

    TRI Explorer with a preliminary dataset may provide some of the local knowledge for a users own analysis. All TRI Explorer facility reports feature the ability for a user to drill down to a detailed Facility Profile Report. With the composite dataset, either 2008 or 2009 data will be displayed. Multi-year trend graphs and tables are available from this Facility Profile Report. Trend data may supplement a users analysis when 2009 data is not displayed. Trend data may indicate if the facilitys releases are consistent year to year, declining, follow a multi-year cycle, or increasing. Past performance however is not an assurance of current or future activity.

    Is the preliminary TRI dataset complete?

    EPA will not have a complete set of the 2009 TRI data until all of the 2009 TRI forms submitted by regulated facilities have been processed through the TRI reporting system. The TRI Web site provides statistics on the number of reporting forms processed so far this year compared to the number of forms that were included in the 2008 National Analysis. Since the number of forms submitted (and the number of facilities reporting) varies from year to year, we will not have a definitive count until all TRI reports are processed for the 2009 reporting year.

    Some reasons why the data are not complete include:

  • Missing information on some forms;
  • Delays in processing paper forms;
  • Issues with electronic submissions or certifications; and
  • Late submissions from some facilities.
  • Users of preliminary TRI dataset should be aware that some of the 2009 TRI data that have already been submitted to EPA may change if data quality errors are detected and specific facilities submit revised 2009 TRI reports. For more information on factors to consider when using TRI data, please see the TRI Web site, specifically https://www.epa.gov/tri/triprogram/FactorsToConPDF.pdf

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