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Over 16 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Dumped into Texas’ Waterways

For Immediate Release:

AUSTIN--Industrial facilities dumped more than 16 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Texas’ waterways, making Texas’ waterways the 2nd worst in the nation, according to a new report by Environment Texas Research and Policy Center.  

The Wasting Our Waters report comes as the Environmental Protection Agency considers a new rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to thousands of waterways in Texas and across the nation.

“Texas’ waterways should be clean – for swimming, drinking, and supporting wildlife,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas Research and Policy Center.  “But too often, our waters have become a dumping ground for polluters.  The first step to curb this tide of toxic pollution is to restore Clean Water Act protections to all our waterways.”

The Environment Texas Research and Policy Center report on toxic pollutants discharged to America’s waters is based on data reported by polluting facilities to the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2012, the most recent data available.

Major findings of the report include:

  • When weighted for toxicity, the Lower Brazos River large watershed in Texas ranked first for toxic releases, with 33,475,464 toxicity-weighted pounds released.
  • The Pilgrim’s Pride Corp MT Pleasant Complex was the top discharging facility in Texas by pounds released, dumping 2,827,637 pounds in the Lake O’ the Pines local watershed.
  • The Dow Chemical Company plant in Freeport, TX was the top discharging facility in Texas by toxicity-weight, dumping 33,474,505 pounds of toxic pollution into the Lower Brazos River.
  • Industrial facilities discharged approximately 80,195 pounds of cancer-causing chemicals into Texas waterways - the 5th highest amount in the country.

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center’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 infertility. The toxic chemicals dumped in Texas include which causes cancer, and developmental toxins, such as dioxin which can affect the way children grow, learn, and behave.

The report recommends several steps to curb this tide of toxic pollution – including requiring industry to switch from toxic chemicals to safer alternatives.  But Environment Texas Research and Policy Center is highlighting one part of the solution that could actually become law this year: Restoring the Clean Water Act protections to all Texas’ waters.

As a result of court cases brought by polluters, 75% of streams in Texas are now at risk of having no protection from pollution under the federal Clean Water Act  Following years of advocacy by Environment Texas Research and Policy Center and its allies, this spring, the EPA finally proposed a rule to close the loopholes that have left Texas’ waterways and risk and restore Clean Water Act protections.

“Looking at the data from our report today, you can see why polluters might oppose it,” said Metzger.  “That’s why we are working with farmers, small businesses, and thousands of ordinary Texans to make sure our voices for clean water are heard in Washington, D.C.  The future of our rivers, lakes and bays hang in the balance.”

The public comment period on the clean water rule began the day before Earth Day, and it is still open right now.

“And to begin to get a grip on the toxic threats posed by fracking in our state, we also need to require drilling operators to tell the public about their toxic releases – just as the polluters highlighted in our report are now required to do.   We have joined a petition urging the EPA to do just that.”

“Texas’ waterways shouldn’t be a polluter’s dumping ground,” said Metzger.  “If we want to be clean for future generations of Texans, we must restore Clean Water Act protections to all of our waterways, and we must do it now.”