Texas Water Pollution Among Nation’s WorstJuly 16, 2014
A study released by the environmental advocacy group Environment Texas showed that Texas water pollution rates worst in the country in terms of toxicity and second-worst in overall pounds of pollution released. The study found that polluters spilled more than 16 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Texas waterways in 2012, second only behind Indiana in volume. When the scientists measured the pollution according to its levels of toxic ingredients, Texas produced more than 34 million “toxicity-weighted” pounds of water pollution.
Dow Plant A Major Source of Toxic Texas Water Pollution
The study showed that the major source of toxic Texas water pollution came from the Dow Chemical Plant in Freeport, just outside Houston. The site’s chemical residue flows into the nearby Brazos River and, eventually, into the Gulf of Mexico. In 2012, according to reports from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the facility released three pounds of the highly toxic chemical dioxin. Due to dioxin’s high toxicity levels, the study evaluated the three pounds of dioxin as 33.4 million toxicity-weighted pounds.
Chicken Plant Biggest Contributor To Texas Water Pollution
According to the study, the other leading contributor to Texas water pollution was the Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant in Mount Pleasant. The company reported dumping 2.8 million pounds of pollutants into the Tankersley River in Northeast Texas. The pollutants consisted mostly of nitrates, which act as a common ingredient in fertilizers. Nitrates are also show to contribute to oxygen depletion in waterways and respiratory problems in infants.
Stricter Rules for Texas Water Pollution
Environment Texas has proposed that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality take up the cause of preventing further Texas water pollution. The group also requested that the U.S. EPA extend their enforcement of the federal Clean Water Act to cover smaller waterways, such as the Brazos and Tankersley Rivers.
“There are still millions of pounds of very dangerous chemicals going into our waterways,” said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas. “(These pollutants) could put human health and the environment at risk.”
Unfair Comparisons for Texas Water Pollution?
A spokesman for TCEQ, the state agency responsible for regulating Texas water pollution, says that the study’s finding are essentially unfair. Terry Clawson criticized the study, stating that comparisons between Texas water pollution problems and those of other states “would need to factor in … significant differences” in both size and production. He also stated that TCEQ has “robust water quality permitting and enforcement programs.”
Source: Texas Tribune
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