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 campaigns for right-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 emissions to air, land and water of the NPI’s 93 listed toxic substances. These reports are an estimate of point source (e.g. stack) emissions and fugitive emissions, derived from independent stack emissions tests. They are not based on actual continuous emissions 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.
- Reports are estimated by the polluters, who have an interest in underreporting pollution.
- Polluters are not held to account for reporting massive increases in pollution.
- 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 (2019-20) released March 2021, for 11 major coal-fired power stations
- Media release: 5-year audit shows little change to coal-fired power station pollution, while 4000 people die prematurely from exposure.
Past NPI analysis
- Coal-fired power stations top biggest polluter list again as toxic emissions from oldest power stations soar, National Pollutant Inventory (EJA media release on NPI, 2020).
- EJA’s analysis on the National Pollutant Inventory data from 2018-19 (spreadsheet)
- NPI report sees toxic pollutants soar again and highlights need for pollution controls on coal-fired power stations (EJA media release on NPI, 2019)
- Toxic emissions from 11 major coal-fired power stations – data from NPI 2014-2018 (spreadsheet)
- Toxic emissions from coal mines – data from NPI 2014-2018 (spreadsheet)
- Coal-fired power stations still Australia’s major source of toxic fine particle pollution (EJA media release on NPI, 2018)
- Power stations – data from NPI, 2018 (spreadsheet)
- Coal mines – data from NPI, 2018 (spreadsheet)
- Air pollution hot spots – data from NPI, 2018 (spreadsheet)
- Fact sheets on the health impact of NPI substances
- National Pollutant Inventory lifts the lid on Australia’s toxic burden (EJA media release on NPI, 2017)
- Latest national air pollution data shows dangerous hikes in emissions (EJA media release on NPI, 2016)
Livia Cullen, Communications Director, Environmental Justice Australia, 0411 108 239