Polluters dumping into Massachusetts’ waterways

Media Contacts
Ben Hellerstein

Former State Director, Environment Massachusetts

Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center

Boston – Industrial facilities dumped excessive pollution into Massachusetts’ waterways 124 times over 21 months, according to a new report by the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center.

“All of Massachusetts’ rivers and streams should be clean for swimming, drinking water, and wildlife,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Masachusetts. “But industrial polluters are still dumping chemicals that threaten our health and environment, and no one is holding them accountable.”

The report, Troubled Waters: Industrial Pollution Still Threatens American Waterways, comes as the Trump administration tries to weaken clean water protections and slash enforcement funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the states.

In reviewing Clean Water Act compliance data from January 2016 through September 2017, the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group found that major industrial facilities are regularly dumping pollution beyond legal limits set to protect human health and the environment, in Massachusetts and across the country.

“In thousands of instances, industrial facilities have released more pollution than they were permitted to, but that is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Elizabeth Berg, a policy associate with Frontier Group and one of the authors of the report. “Many facilities have further violated the Clean Water Act by failing inspections, or filing incomplete reports. Our waterways simply need better protection.”

For example, the report shows that the Texas Instruments facility in Attleboro poured pollutants in excess of its permit limits 13 times into Coopers Pond, including one violation more than 500 percent beyond its permit limits. The Wyman-Gordon Company in North Grafton also exceeded its permit 13 times.

“Our rivers and streams are where we go fishing, swimming, and boating with our families, as well as the source of drinking water for many communities,” said Gabby Queenan, Policy Director for the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance. “At the local, state, and federal level, we must do a better job of protecting these essential public resources.”

The report also shows that polluters rarely face penalties, and recommends several measures to ensure stronger protection for clean water. Unfortunately, decision makers in Washington could soon make the pattern of pollution worse.

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Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center works to protect clean water, clean air, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.