“WASHINGTON, DC – From the Chesapeake Bay to the Great Lakes to the Puget Sound, industrial facilities dumped more than 206 million pounds of toxic chemicals into America’s waterways in 2012, according to a new report by Environment America Research and Policy Center. The “Wasting Our Waterways” report comes as the Environmental Protection Agency considers a new rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to 2 million miles of critical waterways across the nation – a move bitterly opposed by the lobbyists for corporate agribusiness, including the American Farm Bureau.
“America’s waterways should be clean – for swimming, drinking, and supporting wildlife,” said Ally Fields, clean water advocate with Environment America Research and Policy Center. “But too often, our waters have become a dumping ground for polluters. The first step to curb this tide of toxic pollution is to restore Clean Water Act protections to all our waterways.”
Based on data submitted by polluting facilities themselves, the group’s report uses information from the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2012, the most recent data available. Major findings of the report include:
• Our nation’s iconic waterways are still threatened by toxic pollution – with polluters discharging huge volumes of chemicals into the watersheds of the Great Lakes (8.39 million pounds), the Chesapeake Bay (3.23 million pounds), the Upper Mississippi River (16.9 million pounds), and the Puget Sound (578,000 pounds) among other beloved waterways.
• Tyson Foods Inc. is the parent-company reporting dumping the largest discharge of toxic chemicals into our waterways, with a total of 18,556,479 lbs – 9 percent of the nationwide total of toxic discharges. Of the top ten parent-companies by total pounds of toxics released, four are corporate agribusiness companies (Tyson Inc., Cargill Inc., Perdue Farms Inc, and Pilgrims Pride Corp.).
• Corporate agribusiness facilities, the report also finds, were responsible for approximately one-third of all direct discharges of nitrates to our waterways, which can cause health problems in infants and contribute to “dead zones” in our waters. For example, pollution in the Mississippi River watershed has contributed to the massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico….”