Ind. rivers, streams have worst pollution in nation
Five states — Indiana, Virginia, Nebraska, Texas and Georgia — accounted for 40 percent of the total amount of toxic discharge to U.S. waterways in 2010, according to the study, which reported that 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged into 1,400 waterways across the country.
Indiana accounts for 27,366,513 pounds of toxic chemicals released into America’s waterways, the study reported.
“America’s waterways are a polluter’s paradise right now,” Shelley Vinyard, clean water advocate with Environment America, said in a press release. “We must turn the tide of toxic pollution by restoring Clean Water Act protections to our waterways.”
The Calumet River system in Indiana and Illinois, the study revealed, is home to five different Superfund toxic waste sites. At one time, the study said, the sites were so polluted that not even sludge worms could live there.
Food and beverage manufacturing, metals manufacturing, chemical plants and petroleum refineries, the study concluded, were among the largest polluters. Indiana’s AK Steel Corporation dumped the most toxic pollution, nearly 30 million pounds, into waterways in 2010, according to the study.
Nitrates accounted for nearly 90 percent of the total volume of discharges into waterways reported in 2010.
Environment America’s report summarized 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.
These chemicals include arsenic, mercury and benzene.
“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 coauthor 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.”
— Mark Keierleber
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