News Release

Over 7.5 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Dumped into Ohio’s Waterways

For Immediate Release

For Immediate Release:  June 19, 2014

Contact: Ragan Davis, 678-850-7760

Columbus, Ohio--Industrial facilities dumped over 7.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Ohio’s waterways in 2012, making Ohio’s waterways the 10th worst in the nation, according to a new report by Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center. 

The Wasting Our Waterways report comes as the Environmental Protection Agency considers a new rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to thousands of waterways in Ohio and across the nation.

“Ohio’s waterways should be clean – for swimming, drinking, and supporting wildlife,” said Tarek Akkari, Campaign Coordinator with Environment Ohio Research and Policy  Center.  “But too often, our waters have become a dumping ground for polluters.  The first step to curb this tide of toxic pollution is to restore Clean Water Act protections to all our waterways.”

The Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center report on toxic pollutants discharged to America’s waters is based on data reported by polluting facilities to the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2012, the most recent data available.

Major findings of the report include:

  • In the Muskingum River watershed region, polluters dumped approximately 4.4 million pounds of toxic chemicals into our waterways, making this watershed the 4th most polluted in the nation.
  • Industrial facilities discharged approximately 21,000 pounds of chemicals linked to cancer into the Middle Ohio River-Laughery Creek watershed—the 11th highest amount in the country.

Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center’s report summarizes 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 infertility. The toxic chemicals dumped in Ohio include formaldehyde, which causes cancer, and developmental toxins, such as phthalates, which can affect the way children grow, learn, and behave.

The report recommends several steps to curb this tide of toxic pollution – including requiring industry to switch from toxic chemicals to safer alternatives.  But Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center is highlighting one part of the solution that could actually become law this year: Restoring the Clean Water Act protections to all Ohio’s waters.

As a result of court cases brought by polluters, 51,000 miles of streams in Ohio and over 5 million Ohioans’ drinking water are now at risk of having no protection from pollution under the federal Clean Water Act. Following years of advocacy by Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center and its allies, this spring, the EPA finally proposed a rule to close the loopholes that have left Ohio’s waterways and risk and restore Clean Water Act protections.

But the clean water rule is being vigorously opposed by a wide range of polluting industries, including the fracking industry in Ohio. 

“Looking at the data from our report today, you can see why polluters might oppose it,” said Akkari.  “That’s why we are working with farmers, small businesses, and thousands of ordinary Ohioans to make sure our voices for clean water are heard in Washington, D.C.  The future of iconic waters like the Ohio River and Lake Erie hangs in the balance.”

The public comment period on the clean water rule began the day before Earth Day, and it is still open right now.

“And to begin to get a grip on the toxic threats posed by fracking in our state, we also need to require drilling operators to tell the public about their toxic releases – just as the polluters highlighted in our report are now required to do.   We have joined a petition urging the EPA to do just that.”

“Ohio’s waterways shouldn’t be a polluter’s dumping ground,” said Akkari.  “If we want Lake Erie to be clean for future generations of Ohioans, we must restore Clean Water Act protections to all of our waterways, and we must do it now.”

###

Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard.