Holston River Among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2015

April 7, 2015

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(Washington, DC) – American Rivers named the Holston River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2015 today, highlighting the threat toxic chemical explosives from an army ammunition plant pose to clean drinking water supplies.

“The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a call to action to save rivers that are at a tipping point,” said Erin McCombs of American Rivers. “Chemical explosives and drinking water don’t mix. The families and communities along the Holston River have a right to clean drinking water. They shouldn’t have to worry about what’s coming out of the tap.”

The Holston Army Ammunition Plant discharges RDX, a toxic chemical explosive and possible human carcinogen, into the Holston River, which supplies drinking water for more than 56,000 residents in Tennessee and Virginia. The Environmental Protection Agency’s RDX lifetime health advisory limit is 2 ug/L for drinking water. In March and April of 2014, RDX was found in all five drinking water samples taken by the First Utility District of Hawkins County and the samples indicated RDX levels at more than double the EPA’s limit.

American Rivers called on the U.S. Army and the ammunition plant operator, BAE Systems, to stop or significantly reduce the amount of RDX they are dumping into the Holston River.

Another river in Tennessee, the Harpeth River, also made this year’s Most Endangered list because of threats from sewage pollution. The Most Endangered listing of two rivers in Tennessee this year underscores the importance of the state’s role in safeguarding clean water.

“Clean water and healthy rivers are vital to Tennessee’s heritage and the health of our families and communities. It’s critical that the state takes its enforcement responsibilities seriously and protects our clean drinking water from polluters,” said Renée Hoyos, Executive Director of Tennessee Clean Water Network.

The Holston River flows 274 miles from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the confluence with the French Broad River and becomes the Tennessee River. The Holston River is home to 47 species of fish including smallmouth bass, brown trout, rainbow trout, redline darter, and bigeye chub.  The river has played a key role in our nation’s history – it was the site of a 1791 treaty between the United States and Cherokee Indian Nation, and also saw many battles throughout the Civil War.

The annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a list of rivers at a crossroads, where key decisions in the coming months will determine the rivers’ fates.  Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.

“This year’s report underscores the importance of healthy rivers to each and every American,” said Irvin. “Whether it’s for clean drinking water, ample water supplies for farms and cities, abundant fish and wildlife, or iconic places vital to our heritage, we all have a stake in protecting our nation’s rivers.”


About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 250,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.