Delaware River among the most toxic in the nation
A new report published by the Environment America Research and Policy Center lists the Delaware River among their top ten list of waterways for total toxic discharges. The Delaware River comes in at number 5, at 6,779,436 pounds of toxic chemicals released in 2010 according to the Toxics Release Inventory.
At the regional watershed level, watersheds in the mid-Atlantic region also made the top 10 list, coming in at number 3 at 24,424,435 pounds of toxic discharges.
Some of the top facilities for discharging toxic chemicals in 2010 are in the Delaware River Basin, including DuPont Chambers Works in New Jersey (see photo) and the Carpenter Technology Corp on the Schuylkill River.
Environmental Risk: Industrial releases of toxic chemicals are among the leading sources of water pollution in the United States. Some chemicals, including nitrate compounds, contribute to oxygen depletion and dead zones, while chemicals directly poison water bodies. Wildlife, including fish and waterfowl, are unable to thrive in a toxic environment.
Health Risk: Toxic chemicals place our health at risk. Many chemicals bioaccumulate in fish and within aquatic systems, including DDT, PCBs and mercury, contributing to extremely cautious fish consumption advisories in the Delaware River. Consuming bioaccumulated chemicals by eating contaminated fish can lead to developmental problems and disease, including cancers.
Improving the health and safety of America’s toxic rivers, the report suggests, can be accomplished by the following:
- Improving the enforcement of the Clean Water Act
- Switching to safer alternatives in chemical processes
- Reforming U.S. chemical policy, regulating chemicals based upon their intrinsic hazards, including evaluating all chemicals on the market, phasing out toxic or hazardous chemicals,
- Requiring disclosure of industrial toxic chemical use
Photo credit: Amy Roe