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Report: Millions of Pounds of Toxins Pollute Missouri's Waterways

PHOTO: Do you know what's in the water? According to a new report, millions of pounds of toxic chemicals were dumped into Missouri waterways in 2012. CREDIT: Environment Missouri.
PHOTO: Do you know what's in the water? According to a new report, millions of pounds of toxic chemicals were dumped into Missouri waterways in 2012. CREDIT: Environment Missouri.
June 23, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Missouri's lakes, rivers and streams have helped shape the state's history. But a new report is warning their future could be in jeopardy, thanks to a toxic brew of chemicals.

The research and policy organization Environment Missouri found that in 2012, industrial facilities dumped more than 2 million pounds of chemicals into Missouri's waterways.

The group's spokeswoman, Jane Ramsay, said Missouri waters are 11th in the nation for carrying developmental toxins, which can impact the brains and bodies of children.

"You know how kids are," Ramsay said. "They'll want to go outside and play, and if you have your kids playing in rivers that are polluted with these kind of toxins it can have some really adverse health effects."

The report found that the state's biggest polluter was Tyson Foods, whose processing plant in Sedalia dumped more than 700,000 pounds of toxic pollution into Missouri waterways.

According to Ramsay, the report exposed shortcomings in some current federal and state policies. She said her group supports a rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency restoring protections for streams, wetlands and other waterways.

"The Clean Water Act, in theory, should be able to protect us from this kind of thing," said Ramsay. "But with these loopholes, the industrial polluters can kind of work their way around it."

Opponents have said the proposal would be too costly, and could lead to lawsuits. Public comment on the EPA's proposed rule-making will be accepted through the mid-October.

Read Environment Missouri's report, Wasting Our Waterways, Toxic Industrial Pollution and Restoring the Promise of the Clean Water Act.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO