Thousands urge EPA to protect waterways from pollution

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Comments call for strong standards on PFAS and slaughterhouse pollution

Environment America Research and Policy Center

WASHINGTON — Nearly 30,000 people are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to end the dumping of PFAS chemicals, and thousands more are telling the agency to dramatically reduce pollution from slaughterhouses. Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund submitted comments from these individuals to the EPA Thursday as the agency considers updating pollution control standards, which is required by the Clean Water Act.  The groups are also calling on the EPA to strengthen standards for other industrial sources — including power plants and refineries.

“For far too long, lax standards have allowed a wide range of industries to continue polluting our rivers and streams,” said John Rumpler, clean water program director at Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Now the chickens have come home to roost, as poultry and meat processing plants contribute to toxic algae, dead zones and other threats to our waters.”

Slaughterhouses are huge sources of water pollution. Environment America Research & Policy Center recently published a map showing a significant concentration of these facilities in the Mississippi River watershed, where pollution flows have caused a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico larger than the state of Connecticut. Despite these appalling conditions, pollution control standards for even the largest meat and poultry plants have remained unchanged since 2004.

Similarly, companies have dumped PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals’, into our rivers. This is occurring even though these toxics have been linked to multiple types of cancer, lower fertility rates, autoimmune diseases and a laundry list of other health problems. As many as 200 million Americans are likely to have these chemicals in their drinking water, according to a recent analysis.

“With PFAS chemicals, we’ve put our health at risk for the convenience of non-stick pans and grease-resistant food packaging,” said Danielle Melgar, Zero Out Toxics advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “The least the EPA should do now is to stop allowing companies to dump these toxic chemicals into our waterways and put our drinking water at risk.”