Processing Magazine

More than 206 million pounds of toxic chemicals released into US waterways in 2012, study finds

June 24, 2014

A recent study published by non-profit environmental protection organization Environment America has found that more than 206 million pounds of toxic chemicals were released into U.S. waterways in 2012.

The "Wasting Our Waterways" report was compiled using data from the 2012 Toxic Release Inventory of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The research revealed that Indiana dumped more toxic chemicals than any other state, releasing more than 17.7 million pounds of chemicals in 2012, closely followed by Texas, with 16.5 million pounds. Other states that considerably polluted their waterways were Louisiana, Alabama, Virginia, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Georgia, all of which reported more than 10 million pounds of toxic substances dumped into water bodies.

Some of the most popular waterways that attract millions of tourists are also among the most polluted sites, the report found. For example, the watersheds of the Great Lakes were polluted with 8.4 million pounds of toxic waste and the Chesapeake Bay saw 3.23 million pounds released in its waters. But even those figures were dwarfed by the 16.9 million pounds of chemicals that were dumped in the Upper Mississippi River.

Agricultural facilities were responsible for almost one-third of all direct discharges of nitrates, Environment America said. Tyson Foods emerged as the company releasing the largest amount of toxic chemical waste into waterways, with a total of 18.5 million pounds.