National Pollutant Inventory (NPI)

The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) is Australia’s most comprehensive repository of information about toxic pollution. It was introduced in 1998 in response to community right-to-know campaigns. Increasingly, Australians demand to know about toxic substances entering our environments, suburbs and homes, and which polluters are responsible for them. Informed communities and consumers are a driving force for cleaner production.

Each year, polluters are obliged to report their emissions to air, land and water if they emit more than a specified mass of each of the NPI’s 93 listed toxic substances. These reports are just an estimate of point source (e.g. stack) emissions and fugitive emissions. They are not based on actual monitoring.

Polluters’ reports are then collated by the environmental protection agencies in each state and territory and published on the NPI website. Pollution reports can be downloaded by specifying one or more regions, industries, companies or substances.

Weaknesses of the NPI

  • Only 93 toxic substances are reported. By comparison, the United States’ Toxics Release Inventory contains 594 chemicals.
  • Several sources of pollution are not required to be reported, including coal stockpiles, coal mines owned and operated by power stations and coal trains with uncovered wagons.
  • Reporting errors are not remedied and queries are not responded to.
  • The NPI can only estimate pollution, it is not designed to prevent it. Australia’s air pollution laws are failing to protect the health of local communities and the environment.

Latest NPI data (2018-19) released March 2020, for 11 major coal-fired power stations

  • Media release: Coal-fired power stations top biggest polluter list again as toxic emissions from oldest power stations soar, National Pollutant Inventory
  • EJA’s analysis on the National Pollutant Inventory data from (2018-19) is available here. (Excel download)

Past NPI analysis

For comment

Livia Cullen, Communications Director, Environmental Justice Australia, 0411 108 239