Jan. 2, 2010
Ohio River Leads Nation in Toxic Waste, including Cancer Causing Contaminants
By Tony Rutherford
Huntingtonnews.net Reporter
Huntington, WV (HNN) – An Environmental America study released in 2009 listed the Ohio River as leading the nation in both total toxic discharges and having the most cancer and reproductive chemicals. Many of those discharges occur below the Mid-Ohio Valley.
The EA study stated that about 31 million pounds of toxic substances went into the river in 2007. Of these, about 96,699 pounds are considered cancer causing and 29,665 pounds are reproductive toxic chemicals. Yet, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORANSCO) identifies the river as the drinking water source for more than three million people.
The report, “Wasting Our Waterways,” recalls a 1969 incident in which the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, caught fire. The impact of a major urban river burning helped spur such actions as the Federal Clean Water Act which relates to industrial discharges. 46% of the pollution in the nation’s waterways come from factories, power plants and other industrial facilities.
Cyanide, chromium , arsenic compounds, lead, dioxin and benzene are among 91 different chemicals dumped into the Ohio River from 99 facilities in six states. “Metals such as cobalt, nickel, lead, chromium and arsenic can persist in the environment for long periods of time,” the report states.
(A full copy of the report is available in pdf form by clicking: http://www.newsandsentinel.com/pdf/news/523273_1.pdf)
The discharges also represent dangers to the reproductive system and have been linked to developmental issue in children. These wastes are mostly in a class known as PCB’s.
The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) approved the 2009 revision to its Pollution Control Standards for discharges to the Ohio River. The Standards designate specific uses for the Ohio River, establish stream criteria to protect the River as a public and industrial water supply, and ensure it is suitable for swimming, fish consumption, and capable of supporting a healthy and diverse aquatic community.
ORSANCO’s Standards are reviewed every three years by the Commission and water pollution control personnel from eight member states, assuring that they address current issues and policies. As part of this review, the Commission held a series of public workshops and a public hearing to facilitate discussion of water quality concerns. ORSANCO included a comment period to receive input from all interested stakeholders.
The minimum conditions for waste water discharges are: Freedom from anything that will settle to form objectionable sludge deposits which interfere with designated water uses; Freedom from floating debris, scum, oil and other floating material; Freedom from materials producing color or odors to such a degree as to create unsightly or deleterious conditions; Freedom from substances in toxic concentrations harmful to human, animals, fish or other aquatic life.
Full report of revised standards can be found at: http://www.orsanco.org/images/stories/files/pollutionControlStandards/docs/2009standardsfinal.pdf

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