Putting Polluters Before People’s Health?
The Ohio River Basin Commission (ORSANCO) is proposing to extend a deadline two years for polluters to comply with rules to eliminate discharges of harmful ‘bioaccumulative chemicals of concern’ (BCCs) such as mercury to areas in the Ohio River where they’ve been permitted to dilute their wastewater. These areas are known as mixing zones.
Unfortunately BCCs don’t dilute well in these mixing zones and remain dangerous to fish, other wildlife and eventually humans. Continuing to permit polluters to use these BCC mixing zones leaves the Ohio River at risk from substances such as PCBs, dioxin, mercury and other chemicals.
The permit variance to allow polluters to use a mixing zone for BCCs was first implemented to allow the mercury discharger PPG Industries time to comply with limits placed on the company’s wastewater discharge permit. But ORSANCO says the variance should be extended two more years because dozens more polluters may be unable to comply with discharge limits.
ORSANCO is a commission serving as steward of the Ohio River for eight states. Additional delay toward the elimination of these dangerous chemicals hardly seems like sound stewardship. An extension should be unacceptable.
But, if an extension is inevitable, ORSANCO must insist on accountability from the polluters and the states issuing permits. A mixing zone ban won’t be met two years from now unless ORSANCO insists on a timeline of interim steps toward compliance and rigorous review and enforcement to ensure the goal of eliminating discharges to mixing zones is met by polluters.
If healthy water in the Ohio River is important to you, drop ORSANCO an email at PCS@orsanco.org or write to ORSANCO at 5735 Kellogg Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45230. Comments will be accepted through September 12, 2013.