For Immediate Release:
January 12, 2010
Contact: Heather Emmert, Gulf States Field Organizer, Environment America
504-525-1528 x 200
Over 230 Million Pounds of Toxics Discharged into American Waterways
Industrial facilities dumped 12,811,400 pounds of toxic chemicals into Louisiana’s waterways, according to a report released today by Environment America: Wasting Our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act. The report also finds that toxic chemicals were discharged in 1,900 waterways across all 50 states.
“While nearly half of the rivers and lakes in the U.S. are considered too polluted for safe fishing or swimming, our report shows that polluters continue to use our waterways as dumping grounds for their toxic chemicals,” said Heather Emmert, Gulf States Field Organizer with Environment America.
The Environment America’s report** documents and analyzes the dangerous levels of pollutants discharged in to America’s waters by compiling toxic chemical releases reported to the U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2007, the most recent data available.
Major findings of the report include:
* ExxonMobil released 4,211,142 pounds of toxic chemical waste into the Mississippi River in Louisiana. The ExxonMobil facility was the largest reported polluter of toxic chemicals in Louisiana in 2007.
* The Mississippi River is ranked third in the nation for the amount of toxic discharge with 12,717,205 pounds discharged in 2007.
· Industrial facilities discharged approximately 87,896 pounds of chemicals linked to cancer into Mississippi River
With facilities dumping so much pollution, no one should be surprised that nearly half of our waterways are unsafe for swimming and fishing. But we should be outraged.
Environment America’s report summarizes the discharge of cancer-causing chemicals, chemicals that persist in the environment, and chemicals with the potential to cause reproductive problems ranging from birth defects to reduced fertility. Among the toxic chemicals discharged by facilities are lead, mercury, and dioxin. When dumped into waterways, these toxic chemicals contaminate drinking water and are absorbed by the fish that people eventually eat. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer, developmental disorders, and reproductive disorders. In 2007, manufacturing facilities discharged approximately 1.5 million pounds of cancer-causing chemicals into American waters.
“This report gives us yet another example of how the Clean Water Act is a dream deferred,” said Matt Rota, Water Resources Program Director for the Gulf Restoration Network. “From the pollution in Mississippi River to the Dead Zone in the Gulf, it is obvious that the EPA and Louisiana must step up and take decisive action to reduce the pollution that is permitted to flow into our waters every day.”
“There are common-sense steps that should be taken to turn the tide against toxic pollution of our waters,” added Heather. “We need clean water now, and we need the federal government to act to protect our health and our environment.”
In order to curb the toxic pollution threatening the Mississippi River and other waterways, Environment America recommends the following:
1. Pollution Prevention: Industrial facilities should reduce their toxic discharges in to waterways by switching from hazardous chemicals to safer alternatives.
2. Tough permitting and enforcement: EPA and state agencies should issue permits with tough, numeric limits for each type of toxic pollution discharged, ratchet down those limits over time, and enforce those limits with credible penalties, not just warning letters.
3. Protect all waters: The federal government should adopt policies to clarify that the Clean Water Act applies to all of our waterways. This includes the thousands of headwaters and small streams for which jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act has been called into question, as a result of recent court decisions.
In June 2009, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee passed a bill that would restore the Clean Water Act. Now it is up to the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee to take up a similar bill. Heather concluded, “We urge Congress and the President to listen to the public’s demands for clean water. They should act to protect all of our lakes, rivers and streams from toxic pollution.
Environment America is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization that works to protect clean air, clean water, and open spaces
Gulf States Field Organizer
Office 504-525-1528 x200
**I have the report in PDF format if anyone would like me to email it./Charlotte