Industrial facilities dumped 1,788 pounds of toxic chemicals into New Hampshire’s waterways, according to a new report released today by Environment New Hampshire. Wasting Our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act also reports that 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged into 1,400 waterways across the country.
“We’ve come a long way in New Hampshire when it comes to water quality,” said Anika James, Field Associate with Environment New Hampshire, “But polluters still dump nearly 2,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into New Hampshire’s lakes, rivers and streams every year. We need to stay the course on cleaning up toxic pollution by restoring Clean Water Act protections to our waterways.”
“Our waters are an important part of New Hampshire’s quality of life, economy and natural heritage,” said Burr Tupper, Chairman of New Hampshire Trout Unlimited, “These natural resources must be protected for future generations.”
The Environment New Hampshire report documents and analyzes the dangerous levels of pollutants discharged to America’s waters by compiling toxic chemical releases reported to the U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2010, the most recent data available.
Major findings of the report include:
- The Merrimack River has the highest amount of total toxic discharges in the state, with 1,704 pounds discharged in 2010.
- The Merrimack Station was the biggest polluter in New Hampshire, dumping 1,542 pounds of toxic pollution into the Merrimack River in 2010.
Environment New Hampshire’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 reduced fertility. Among the toxic chemicals discharged by facilities are arsenic, mercury, and benzene. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer, developmental disorders, and reproductive disorders.
“There are common-sense steps that we can take to turn the tide against toxic pollution of our waters,” added James.
In order to curb the toxic pollution threatening the Merrimack River, Environment New Hampshire recommends the following:
- Pollution Prevention: Industrial facilities should reduce their toxic discharges to waterways by switching from hazardous chemicals to safer alternatives.
- Protect all waters: The Obama administration should finalize guidelines and conduct a rulemaking to clarify that the Clean Water Act applies to all of our waterways - including the 9,249 miles of streams in New Hampshire and the drinking water of half a million people in New Hampshire, for which jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act has been called into question as a result of two polluter-driven Supreme Court decisions in the last decade.
- 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.
“We’ve come a long way in reducing toxic pollution in New Hampshire, but the bottom line is that we need to do more to keep New Hampshire’s waterways free of toxic pollutions. We need clean water now, and we are counting on the federal government to act to protect our health and our environment,” concluded James.