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

  • Top Stories Transportation McAuliffe vows to fix “broken” I-66

    McAuliffe vows to fix “broken” I-66

    Saying that I-66 is “broken” in the Fairfax area, Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a plan to transform the traffic-choked highway into a multi-modal facility with express lanes, rapid bus service and a park-and-ride network from the Capital Beltway to Haymarket. “Interstate 66 is broken. Commuters are stuck in traffic, limited in the travel choices they can make and unable to predict how long their trip will take on any given day,” said McAuliffe. “Giving Virginians more choices and a better, safer […]

    Read more →
  • Education Top Stories Fairfax County School Board elects new chairman

    Fairfax County School Board elects new chairman

    The Fairfax County School Board has elected Tamara Derenak Kaufax (Lee District) as chairman and Ted Velkoff (at-large) as vice chairman for a one-year term. The chair and vice chair assumed office at the July 10 School Board meeting; they are elected by School Board members during the Board’s annual organizational meeting. Derenak Kaufax has served on the School Board since January 2012; she served as vice chair in 2013-14 and has served as chair of the School Board’s Public […]

    Read more →
  • Business Employment Reston Top Stories Transportation Tysons Corner Vienna Metro offers Silver Line briefings to employers

    Metro offers Silver Line briefings to employers

    As Metro’s new Silver Line prepares to open later this month, Metro is offering briefings to businesses looking to ease their employees’ commutes. Nearly 4,000 employers already provide the SmartBenefits commuting benefit to 250,000 workers in the region, according to Metro. Metro hosts SmartBenefits Seminars for employers to learn how to offer employees a better way to get to work, save money, and take advantage of the most recent enhancements to SmarTrip and the Silver Line. Register now for one […]

    Read more →
  • Education Top Stories Northern Virginia Civil Rights Archive unveiled at GMU

    Northern Virginia Civil Rights Archive unveiled at GMU

    Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became one of the most significant pieces of legislation ever enacted into law. Many of the men and women who lived through the Civil Rights era and provided more than 50 hours of video testimonials for Congressman Gerry Connolly’s year-long project to create a Northern Virginia Civil Rights Archive will join Connolly at the unveiling of the project at George Mason University Monday (July 7). “The Northern Virginia Civil Rights Archive: […]

    Read more →
  • Floods & Natural Disasters Top Stories Arthur headed for Outer Banks but likely to miss Mid-Atlantic

    Arthur headed for Outer Banks but likely to miss Mid-Atlantic

    Although it will ruin the July 4 holiday for many Northern Virginians who were headed for the Outer Banks, it appears that Tropical Storm Arthur will head out to sea and miss Fairfax and the Mid-Atlantic region. This NASA image, taken by the Aqua satellite as it passed over Tropical Storm Arthur on July 2 at 2:50 p.m. EDT on July 2, shows a cloud-covered eye as the storm was on the way to becoming a hurricane. This visible image of […]

    Read more →
  • Top Stories Transportation Connolly: Highway Trust Fund shortfall threatens Virginia commuters

    Connolly: Highway Trust Fund shortfall threatens Virginia commuters

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) today urged his House colleagues to take swift action to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund when they return to work Tuesday, warning that Virginia and other states could be forced to scale back road, bridge, and transit projects unless Congress acts. The U.S. Department of Transportation has notified all states that restrictions will be placed on their federal highway funds starting August 1st because the Highway Trust Fund is bordering on insolvency. President Obama issued […]

    Read more →
  • Floods & Natural Disasters Top Stories Heat advisory in Fairfax Wednesday

    Heat advisory in Fairfax Wednesday

    The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for the Fairfax area from noon today to 7 p.m. this evening. Heat index values will be around 103-105 degrees with temperatures in the mid to upper 90s. A heat advisory means that a period of high temperatures is expected. The combination of high temperatures and high humidity will create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. We recommend scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments — […]

    Read more →
  • Top Stories Transportation Metro gets ready for the July 26 Silver Line opening

    Metro gets ready for the July 26 Silver Line opening

    Now that the July 26 opening day for Silver Line service has been set, Metro is encouraging commuters and the curious to visit one of the five new Silver Line stations for a ride on the inaugural trains. The McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro and Spring Hill stations will all open to the public at 11:30 a.m. so that riders can enter the stations to take a look around and purchase fare media. The Wiehle-Reston East station is the exception – it […]

    Read more →

Our weather forecast is from WP Wunderground