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

  • Politics Top Stories Gillespie gains but Warner leads 51-44 as Election Day nears

    Gillespie gains but Warner leads 51-44 as Election Day nears

    With the election less than a week away, Republican Ed Gillespie has narrowed the gap, but Democratic Sen. Mark Warner’s broad-based support still gives him a solid lead in Virginia’s U.S. Senate race, according to a statewide survey released today by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Likely voters favor Warner by 51%, compared with 44% for Gillespie, according to the survey. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis holds a 2% share of the overall vote, with only […]

    Read more →
  • Education Top Stories It’s official: Fairfax high schools to open after 8 a.m.

    It’s official: Fairfax high schools to open after 8 a.m.

    Citing the clear health benefits for adolescents, the Fairfax County School Board approved a recommendation for starting high schools later, between 8 and 8:10 a.m. and ending between 2:45 and 2:55 p.m. This change, which will begin in the 2015-16 school year, will benefit more than 57,000 high school students representing more than 30 percent of Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) student population. The School Board’s decision reflects a start time change for all four years of high school, a […]

    Read more →
  • Education Employment Top Stories NOVA launches STEM initiative to meet demand for skilled workers

    NOVA launches STEM initiative to meet demand for skilled workers

    According to “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020” from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the number of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will increase by 32 percent in Virginia by 2020, More than 90 percent of those jobs will require postsecondary education. Northern Virginia Community College is responding to this demand by creating a collegewide initiative to persuade more students to pursue two- and four-year STEM degrees. “An urgent need exists […]

    Read more →
  • Politics Top Stories Poll: Warner leads Gillespie 51-39

    Poll: Warner leads Gillespie 51-39

    Republican challenger Ed Gillespie has converted some undecided voters since Labor Day, but Democratic Sen. Mark Warner still holds a commanding lead in Virginia’s U.S. Senate race, according to a statewide survey released today by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Likely voters favor Warner by 51%, compared with 39% for Gillespie, according to the survey. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis holds a 3% share of the overall vote, with 7% undecided. Warner’s lead is broad, as […]

    Read more →
  • Politics Top Stories Supreme Court clears the way for gay marriage in Virginia

    Supreme Court clears the way for gay marriage in Virginia

    The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to review pending gay-marriage cases in Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin, sidestepping for now the question of whether there is a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The surprise ruling suggests the high court will stay out of state gay-marriage cases, although action by a federal appeals court upholding state bans could eventually force the court to reconsider. “This is a historic and long overdue moment for our Commonwealth and our country,” said Gov. […]

    Read more →
  • Politics Top Stories Poll: Virginians back strikes on ISIS, support deployment to fight Ebola

    Poll: Virginians back strikes on ISIS, support deployment to fight Ebola

    A strong, bipartisan majority of Virginia voters approve of President Obama’s military campaign against Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, according to a statewide survey released today by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Overall, 63% of voters approve and 28% disapprove of the strikes against ISIS, but on this question and others, the results in the foreign policy survey show a clear partisan divide. For example, far more Democrats approve of the military campaign (81%) […]

    Read more →
  • County Government Health Top Stories Combating heroin use in Fairfax County

    Combating heroin use in Fairfax County

    The Fairfax County Board has passed a proposal by Supervisor Pat Herrity to examine the growing use of heroin in the county. The board voted to direct the county staff to prepare a report documenting the extent of the problem and recommending next steps. “Heroin is here, it is on our doorstep, it is in our communities, and it often goes unnoticed,” Herrity said. “This problem ranges through all demographics, it doesn’t have a ‘face,’ and for that reason often […]

    Read more →
  • Politics Top Stories Poll: Redskins should keep their name

    Poll: Redskins should keep their name

    By a margin of more than 3 to 1, Virginia voters say the Washington Redskins should not change the team name, according to a statewide survey released today by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Overall, 71% of voters support keeping the name, which has been challenged as racist, while 21% said it should be changed. Asked if the name is offensive to Native American Indians, 68% said no, and 23% said yes. Political party identification […]

    Read more →

Our weather forecast is from WP Wunderground