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Fewer Toxic Chemicals Released Into the Air

THE amount of toxic chemicals generated by industry increased slightly in 1992, but fewer of the pollutants were released into the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency report April 19 that industry generated 37.3 billion pounds of toxic chemicals in 1992, an increase of 0.5 percent from the year before.

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But chemicals released into the environment were down 6.6 percent, to 3.2 billion pounds.

Rhode Island was ranked 47th nationwide for total releases, Massachusetts was ranked 38th and Connecticut 34th.

The figures show that ``while industry may be improving its management of toxic chemical waste, clearly there are still many opportunities for preventing pollution by reducing the use of toxic chemicals,'' Environmental Protection Agency head Carol Browner said in a statement accompanying the agency's annual Toxic Release Inventory.

Of the 3.2 billion pounds of chemicals released into the environment in 1992, 58 percent went into the air, the report said. Underground injection accounted for 22.8 percent, followed by releases to land, 10.8 percent, and surface water discharge, 8.6 percent.

Air release of toxics was down 9.4 percent from 1991, largely because of declines in the release of solvents, ammonia, and chlorine, the report said. @HEADBRIEF = Prize for Grassroots Activists

A CREE Indian who has fought a Canadian hydroelectric plan and a German activist who drew attention to the destruction of rain forests were among six winners of an international environmental prize April 18.

The Goldman Environmental Prizes, which each carry a cash award of $60,000, were presented at a ceremony in San Francisco, the Goldman Environmental Foundation said.

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The prizes are awarded annually to ``grassroots environmentalists'' from around the world by the foundation, which was set up five years ago by San Francisco philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman.

This year's winners included Matthew Coon Come, a Cree Indian leader from Quebec, Canada, who has led Cree opposition to the planned second phase of a vast hydroelectric project in northern Quebec, called James Bay II. The foundation said that, if the entire project were completed, it would block nine major rivers and ``significantly alter the ecology of the largest remaining wilderness area in eastern North America.''

Ildiko Schucking, an activist from Sassenberg, Germany, was honored for exposing the link between timber consumption in northern industrialized countries and the destruction of tropical forests in the South, it said.

Another prize went to Luis Macas, a Quichua Indian from Ecuador who negotiated a land transfer of 3 million acres of rainforest back to indigenous control in 1992, the foundation announced.

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