Virginia is second-worst in the nation for toxic chemicals dumped into its waterways, according to a report released this month.
The report, “Wasting Our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act,” claims 18 million pounds of toxic chemicals are released by industrial facilities into state rivers, lakes and streams annually.
Five Virginia rivers made the report’s list of 50 worst waterways in the nation, while other findings show that more than 377,000 pounds of toxic pollutants were dumped into the Shenandoah River, and 400,000 pounds were released into the Potomac River.
Now this calls for outrage. Oh Shenandoah, one of America’s most notable rivers in folk song can now shrivel your toes because it is so toxin. How have things gotten so bad? It takes a minute to play. O Shenandoah by the Statler Bros.
“Virginia’s waterways are a polluter’s paradise right now,” said Laura Anderson, field organizer with Environment Virginia. “There’s obviously something wrong if polluters are dumping 18 million pounds of toxic pollution into our waterways here in Virginia every year.”
Major findings of the report include:
* 377,090 pounds of toxic pollution were dumped into the Shenandoah River in 2010.
* 203,480 pounds of toxins were released into the Potomac River, and other states dumped additional toxic pollution for a total of 402,261 pounds in the Potomac in 2010.
* Virginia’s Upper Roanoke watershed is ranked second-worst in the nation for highest amount of total toxic discharges, with more than 12 million pounds discharged in 2010.
The report summarizes the release of a variety of chemicals, that cause cancer, birth defects and infertility, and stay in the environment for long periods of time.
The pollution in Virginia’s rivers has been a problem for a long time. Many of the problems are decades old. Things just don’t move downstream. Do we see things improving? Do we have laws in place that protect our rivers, streams and watershed areas? What clean up efforts are underway? Is this something that can even be cleaned up or must we handle it in other ways?
These are questions that Virginians must insist that their lawmakers address. We have to tell our lawmakers to put away their ultra-sound wands and focus clearly on transportation, jobs, clean water and air. Water and air don’t know boundaries. In the next century, clean water and air are going to be major geo-political issues both nationally and globally. Today’s stupid land use decision might very well turn into a critical environmental issue in the decades to come.
Who will pay for all this clean up and prevention? You and I will pay. We will pay with our tax dollars and we will pay as municipalities. We will pay in quality of life terms. Where will people fish, crab, dredge oysters? Where will people go for recreation? What of disease, infertility, and birth defects from having UNclean water in our environment?
From Moon Howler: A huge thank you to my friend Bear for getting the Shenandoah song down to me so quickly. He has one of the best music collections I have ever heard and he used to be quite a guitarist himself, back in the day.
Tell your elected officials to prioritize clean water. Start with our own county.