Ohio River watershed leads nation in toxic pollutants

A new report shows the Ohio River watershed leads the nation in toxic pollutants.
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 4:29 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A new report shows the Ohio River watershed leads the nation in toxic pollutants.

Titled “Wasting Our Waterways,” the report is from Environment America Research and Policy Center.

Citing numbers from EPA, the report showed 40 million pounds of toxic substances went into waters that feed the Ohio in 2020. This includes chemicals that are linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental problems.

50 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, the message from authors of the report is more work is needed.

“Why are state officials allowing so much pollution to be dumped into our rivers and streams instead of a more stringent implementation of the Clean Water Act?” John Rumpler, Director of Clean Water America said. “With the level of toxic pollution we already have in the Ohio River watershed, we can ill afford dozens of more facilities dumping even more toxic chemicals into our waterways. We need to take a step back and realize that clean water and health and safety of our children is at stake.”

Compared to protections afforded other river systems, the Ohio is also viewed by supporters of the Clean Water Act as being left behind.

“The Ohio is the last major waterway in the United States that really needs this kind of attention,” Ted Smith, Director of the UofL Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil said. “We see many groups organizing, they recognize the situation, the anniversary of the Clean Water Act. This is the right time to catch up to the Ohio.”

“This report summarizes really in a nice clean way a very dirty situation,” Smith said. “The Ohio River we know is an industrial waterway. It is not a blue amenity for any of the communities along it at this point in time. And there’s a realization now, you add up all the numbers, it needs to be cleaned up.”