Report: Rock River 10th Most Polluted in the U.S.

The Rock River Times – rockrivertimes.com – April 4, 2012

For the year 2010, according to an Environment America report released March 22, the Rock River ranks as the 10th most polluted river in the country, up from 12th in a 2008 report.

Data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2010 “Toxics Release Inventory: (TRI) was used to compile Environment America’s rankings.

Not all of Wisconsin and Illinois need to totally despair; this literally flows as a good / bad news story.

Bad news: 3,370,392 pounds of toxic discharges dumped in Rock River. Good news: one beef processing plant near the mouth of the river is asserted to make all but 80,602 pounds of the total, only 3 percent comes from up river.

Obviously, people at the mouth of the river are very concerned, particularly the Rock River Valley Association, located in Moline, Il., one of the Quad Cities. Doug Riel is a vice president with the Rock River Valley Association and serves as chairman of its Engineering Committee.

“The Rock River Valley Association is very concerned with the continued dterioration of the water quality of the Lower Rock River,” said Riel. “The latest report by Environment America has mved the Lower Rock from the 12th to the 10th most polluted river in the United States. Clearly, for those who live, fish and boat on the Rock River, this is significant. For years, the Rock River has been a neglected river at the state and federal level; hopefully, this report will bring attention to its plight.”

Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., in Joslin, Ill., about 26 miles upriver from the Mississippi, is report by Environment America as being responsible for 97 percent, or 3,290,330 pounds, of the toxic discharges. Yet, Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson told the Quad Cities Dispatch that the company was compliant with the Clean Water Act, returning permitte water to the river, and the EPA data states it is “not sufficient to calculate risk to either humans or the environment.”

Shelley Vinyard, Clean Water advocate with Environment America, told the Rock River Times; “We analyzed the TRI data that is self-reported by the industries to the EPA. We didn’t look at if people were in compliance with their permits or not. The Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972 with the goal of cleaning up our waters by 1985. This pollution is linked to cancer and developmental disabilities. Our waterways are overloaded with pollution.”

Vinyard said she would gather more specifics about the data from the Rock River and forward it to The Rock River Times.

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