Perhaps you may have read last Sunday’s New York Times lead article by Charles Duhigg: Toxic Waters: Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering. For those who did not, the article focused on the human anguish that results from pollutants in our waters. The abuse is caused by direct violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Keep in mind, the article did not focus on third world countries, but here in the US. Senior Banking Accountant, West Virginia resident Jennifer Hall-Massey’s family is profiled:
“Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.
‘How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?’ said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state’s largest banks.
She and her husband, Charles, do not live in some remote corner of Appalachia. Charleston, the state capital, is less than 17 miles from her home.”
The article continues to disclose violation records obtained from not only the EPA but from State records. A multitude of violations were compiled into a fascinating and frightening national water pollution database. I encourage you to visit the database link, put in your zip code and hold on to your seats!
The blatant lack of fines or punishment to violators is unconscionable. This past January I wrote a BLOG about outgoing President Bush’s midnight environmental legislation. Specifically stated, President Bush made sure that the coal industry had no problems depositing their waste from mountaintop mining into streams and valleys. Also, he circumvented the Clean Water Act and dismissed EPA leaders dissents. While it would be almost too easy to blame his administration and outgoing policies for today’s environmental misery, the New York Times article clearly distributes the blame to state agencies as well. Federal and State agencies need to step up.
As Duhigg writes: research shows that an estimated 1 in 10 Americans have been exposed to drinking water that contains dangerous chemicals or fails to meet a federal health benchmark in other ways.
Someone needs to be held accountable. Remember this next time you take a drink of water.