New Report: 232 Million Pounds of Toxics Discharged into Waterways

Media Contacts
Jessica O'Hare

Environment New Hampshire

[Concord, NH] Industrial facilities dumped over 42,800 pounds of toxic chemicals into New Hampshire’s waterways, according to a report released today by Environment New Hampshire: Wasting Our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act. The report also finds that toxic chemicals were discharged in 1,900 waterways across all 50 states.

“While nearly half of the rivers and lakes in the U.S. are considered too polluted for safe fishing or swimming, our report shows that polluters continue to use our waterways as dumping grounds for their toxic chemicals,” said Jessica O’Hare, Program Associate with Environment New Hampshire.

“New Hampshire’s water ways are a source of drinking water, sport and recreation. We should do everything possible to protect this valuable heritage,” said Burr Tupper, Chairman of NH Trout Unlimited.

The Environment New Hampshire report documents and analyzes the dangerous levels of pollutants discharged in to America’s waters by compiling toxic chemical releases reported to the U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2007, the most recent data available.

Major findings of the report include:

* Wausau Paper Printing & Writing released 42,500 pounds of toxic chemical waste into the Connecticut River in New Hampshire. Wausau Paper Printing & Writing was the largest reported polluter of toxic chemicals in New Hampshire in 2007.
* Threatening our public health, industrial facilities discharged approximately 25,502 pounds of chemicals linked to cancer into the Androscoggin River. This waterway is ranked 14th in the nation for most total discharges of cancer causing chemicals.
* Nationally, 232 million pounds of toxic chemicals were released to American waterways during 2007 by industrial facilities.

“With facilities dumping so much pollution, no one should be surprised that nearly half of our waterways are unsafe for swimming and fishing. But we should be outraged,” stated O’Hare.

Environment New Hampshire’s report summarizes the discharge 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 lead, mercury, and dioxin.

When dumped into waterways, these toxic chemicals contaminate drinking water and are absorbed by the fish that people eventually eat. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer, developmental disorders, and reproductive disorders. In 2007, manufacturing facilities discharged approximately 1.5 million pounds of cancer-causing chemicals into American waters.

“There are common-sense steps that should be taken to turn the tide against toxic pollution of our waters,” added O’Hare. “We need clean water now, and we need the federal government to act to protect our health and our environment.”

In order to curb the toxic pollution threatening New Hampshire’s waterways, Environment New Hampshire recommends the following:

1. Pollution Prevention: Industrial facilities should reduce their toxic discharges in to waterways by switching from hazardous chemicals to safer alternatives.
2. 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.
3. Protect all waters: The federal government should adopt policies to clarify that the Clean Water Act applies to all of our waterways. This includes the thousands of headwaters and small streams for which jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act has been called into question, as a result of recent court decisions.

“We urge Congress and the President to listen to the public’s demands for clean water. They should act to protect all of our lakes, rivers and streams from toxic pollution,” concluded O’Hare.