Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Penn Environment released a report today based on federal data about toxic chemical discharges into the nation’s waterways during 2007—the most recent figures available.
Pennsylvania ranks sixth, with more than 10 million pounds going into rivers and streams. US Steel’s Clairton Works was the largest polluter with 2-1/2 million pounds into Peters Creek and the Monongahela River, according to spokesperson Erika Staaf. Hazardous substances like lead, mercury and dioxins pollute drinking water and are linked to cancer, as well as to developmental and reproductive disorders.
Staaf says industries both large and small have often found safer alternatives to toxic chemicals, and she calls on US Steel to do the same.
Besides more rigorous enforcement of existing laws, Staaf urges support for the Clean Water Restoration Act, pending in Congress, which would make it clear that streams and wetlands that feed the rivers are also protected by clean water laws. Congressman Mike Doyle sponsored the 2007 bill in the House, and Senator Arlen Specter voted for it this year in the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee.
The Ohio River is ranked first in the nation for toxic discharges, with over 31 million pounds through six states.