A Frightening Halloween for Western Pennsylvania’s Three Rivers


In anticipation of the scariest of holidays, PennEnvironment offered a list of the Top Ten Frightening Facts about Western Pennsylvania’s three rivers and their recommendations on ways to make next Halloween less “terrifying” for the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela Rivers and Pennsylvania’s other waterways.

“While the ghosts and ghouls of Halloween will disappear after October 31st, the very real and scary problems facing the three rivers won’t go anywhere,” said Erika Staaf, PennEnvironment’s clean water advocate. “Natural gas extraction, irresponsible development and industrial waste continue to threaten the health of our rivers.”

PennEnvironment’s Top Ten Frightening Facts included:

  •     This year, the Monongahela River was ranked number nine on American’s Most Endangered Rivers list.
  •     Marcellus Shale gas extraction in the Monongahela River Basin has put the health of hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the river for their drinking water at risk.
  •     Right now, 59% of streams in Pennsylvania are at risk of losing their Clean Water Act protections because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decisions.
  •     Annually, combined sewage overflows affect Pittsburgh’s three rivers between 40-70 days during the boating season (May 15-Oct. 1) making the water quality unacceptable for recreational contact.
  •     In 2007, the Ohio River ranked first in the nation for toxic discharges amongst more than 1,900. That same year, the Ohio River had the greatest amount of cancer-causing chemical discharges and reproductive toxicants in America.
  •     Close to 8 million Pennsylvanians get their drinking water from sources fed by streams that may no longer be protected by the Clean Water Act.
  •     According to the EPA, in 2007, more than 2.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged into the Monongahela River.
  •     In 2007, US Steel’s Edgar Thomson Plant released over 1,000 pounds of cancer-causing chemicals, over 400 pounds of developmental toxicants, and over 1,000 pounds of reproductive toxicants into the Monongahela River.

“We thank EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who has worked hard to protect our waterways across the country, but time is running out for us to restore protections to our rivers here in southwestern Pennsylvania and throughout the Commonwealth,” added Staaf. “We cannot allow Clean Water Act loopholes trick state and federal environmental regulators out of protecting our three rivers any longer.”