Virginia One of Five Biggest Waterway Polluters

March 27, 2012 2:58 pmBy: 

oil spill photoVirginia is one of just five states that account for forty percent of the total amount of toxic discharges to U.S. waterways in 2010, according to a new report released today by Environment America.  The study also reports that 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged into 1,400 waterways across the country.

The other top-polluting states are Indiana, Nebraska, Texas, and Georgia.

“America’s waterways are a polluter’s paradise right now. Polluters dumped 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals into our lakes, rivers and streams in 2010,” said Shelley Vinyard, Clean Water Advocate with Environment America. “We must turn the tide of toxic pollution by restoring Clean Water Act protections to our waterways.”

The Environment America report documents and analyzes the dangerous levels of pollutants discharged to America’s waters by compiling toxic chemical releases reported to the U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2010, the most recent data available.

Major findings of the report include:

• Pollution from just five states—Indiana, Virginia, Nebraska, Texas, and Georgia—accounted for nearly forty percent of the total amount of pollution dumped into our waterways in 2010

• Food and beverage manufacturing (slaughterhouses, rendering plants, etc.), primary metals manufacturing, chemical plants, and petroleum refineries were some of the largest polluters. AK Steel dumped the most toxic pollution—nearly 30 million pounds—into our waterways in 2010.

• In 2010, industries discharged approximately 1.5 million pounds of cancer-causing chemicals, like arsenic, chromium, and benzene, into America’s waterways. Nevada’s Burns Creek received the largest volume of carcinogens in 2010, while neighboring Mill Creek placed third.

• Nitrates accounted for nearly 90 percent of the total volume of discharges to waterways reported in 2010. Nitrates are toxic, particularly to infants consuming formula made with nitrate-laden drinking water, who may be susceptible to methemoglobinemia, or “blue baby” syndrome, a disease that reduces the ability of blood to carry oxygen throughout the body.

Environment America’s report summarizes discharges 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 arsenic, mercury, and benzene. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer, developmental disorders, and reproductive disorders.

“The Clean Water Act’s original objective was to clean up all of America’s waterways by 1985—27 years ago,” said Rob Kerth, Analyst for Frontier Group and co-author of the report. “Many people born in 1985 have kids of their own now, yet still millions of pounds of toxic chemicals are being dumped into our waterways.” In order to curb the toxic pollution threatening waterways like the Chesapeake Bay, the Colorado River and Puget Sound, Environment America recommends the following:

1. Pollution Prevention: Industrial facilities should reduce their toxic discharges to waterways by switching from hazardous chemicals to safer alternatives.

2. Protect all waters: The Obama administration should finalize guidelines and conduct a rulemaking to clarify that the Clean Water Act applies to all of our waterways – including the 2.5 million miles of streams in and 117 million Americans’ drinking water for which jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act has been called into question as a result of two polluter-driven Supreme Court decisions in the last decade.

3. 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.

“The bottom line is that America’s waterways shouldn’t be a polluter’s paradise, they should just be paradise. We need clean water now, and we are counting on the federal government to act to protect our health and our environment,” concluded Vinyard.

Comments

More Top Stories

  • Education Top Stories Congressmen challenge, inspire Mason grads

    Congressmen challenge, inspire Mason grads

    By Sudha Kamath and Jamie Rogers George Mason University Telling thousands of George Mason University graduates “I do hope you tell the world with great pride where you studied,” President Ángel Cabrera delivered opening remarks on Dec. 18 at the first of two ceremonies at the Patriot Center on George Mason’s Fairfax Campus. “You made it!” declared Cabrera. “How does it feel? You still need to behave for the next two hours,” he quipped before introducing Tom Davis, the rector […]

    Read more →
  • Military Police & Crime Top Stories Virginia, feds settle with Freedom Stores, accused of illegal debt collection practices

    Virginia, feds settle with Freedom Stores, accused of illegal debt collection practices

    Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the North Carolina took action today to protect military servicemembers from illegal debt collection practices. The CFPB alleges that Freedom Stores, Inc., Freedom Acceptance Corporation, and Military Credit Services LLC used illegal tactics to collect debts, including filing illegal lawsuits, debiting consumers’ accounts without authorization, and contacting servicemembers’ commanding officers. The CFPB and the states filed a consent order in federal court to require the three companies and […]

    Read more →
  • Politics Top Stories McAuliffe announces legislation to curb gun violence in Virginia

    McAuliffe announces legislation to curb gun violence in Virginia

    Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a series of legislative proposals aimed at curbing gun violence in Virginia, calling them “common-sense violence prevention efforts.” The proposals include prohibiting the possession of firearms for persons subject to protective orders and those who have committed certain misdemeanor offenses, such as stalking, sexual battery, and domestic violence, as well as revoking concealed handgun permits for parents delinquent on child support payments and closing the gun show loophole. “As Governor, there is no greater responsibility […]

    Read more →
  • Chantilly Clifton Top Stories Transportation Stringfellow Road opens to four lanes Monday

    Stringfellow Road opens to four lanes Monday

    On Monday, Dec. 15, drivers will enjoy two lanes in each direction from Fair Lakes Boulevard to Route 50 on the newly widened two-mile section of Stringfellow Road, a milestone for the project that is six months ahead of schedule. On Friday, Dec. 12, crews will shift northbound traffic from the existing lane to the two newly constructed lanes. Drivers will continue to have one lane southbound while crews finish work to open both lanes by Monday afternoon. All turn […]

    Read more →
  • Alexandria Prince William Springfield Top Stories Transportation Woodbridge 95 Express Lanes about to open; are you ready?

    95 Express Lanes about to open; are you ready?

    It’s a good thing we have lots of smart people in the Washington area, because you have to be pretty good at mind-numbing details to navigate the toll and HOV features of our highways. Let’s see — there’s the Dulles Toll Road, which is free if you’re actually going to the airport but pricey if you’re not. Then there’s the Greenway to Loudoun, which is expensive for everybody and, like Dulles, makes no allowance for HOV, a/k/a car-pooling or ride-sharing. […]

    Read more →
  • County Government Politics Top Stories As tax deadline nears, Fairfax supervisors consider giving themselves raises

    As tax deadline nears, Fairfax supervisors consider giving themselves raises

    Fairfax County residents have just finished paying their 2014 car taxes, which can easily exceed $1,000 for a newer car, whether hybrid or gas guzzler, and now they are facing the Dec. 5 deadline for the second installment of their property taxes, which increase like clockwork each year. The county’s economy is tepid, with sequestration and military cutbacks beginning to bite. Most major highway expansion in the area consists of adding tolls to roads that were previously free. In other […]

    Read more →
  • Education Politics Top Stories Rep. Moran introduces bill to reform NCAA

    Rep. Moran introduces bill to reform NCAA

    A bill introduced by retiring Congressman Jim Moran would establish a blue ribbon commission to study the intercollegiate athletic system and offer recommendations for reform. “Recent scandals involving intercollegiate athletics programs at a number of the nation’s most prestigious institutions reveal the absence of policy and practice that would ensure a level of academic integrity, athlete welfare, and financial soundness appropriate for non-profit institutions of higher education,” said Moran, a former college athlete and ranking member of the Interior Appropriations […]

    Read more →
  • Education Langley Oakton Top Stories Langley, Oakton students featured in “Sleepless in America”

    Langley, Oakton students featured in “Sleepless in America”

    Students from Langley High School and Oakton High School, Superintendent Karen K. Garza, and Fairfax County School Board member Sandy Evans will be featured in “Sleepless in America,” a television show on sleep deprivation produced by the National Geographic Channel, premiering Sunday, November 30, at 8 p.m. The show focuses on the sleep-loss epidemic in the U.S. and explores the health consequences of sleeping too little.  Sleep researchers from the University of Chicago and Oregon Health and Science University are […]

    Read more →