Study Details Iowa Waterway Pollution Concerns

The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Rod Boshart

 Environment groups that studied the federal government's toxic release inventory issued a report Thursday indicating that industrial facilities discharged -- both legally and illegally -- more than 6.2 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Iowa's waterways in 2010.

"Iowa's waterways are embarrassingly polluted right now," said Samantha Chadwick, a preservation advocate with Environment Iowa -- which co-authored the 2012 report with the Frontier Group."Our waterways shouldn't be industry's dumping ground. Our rivers are too important to the health of the state and for our quality of life."

According to the report, Iowa ranked 15th in the nation for waterway discharges. Nationally, about 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged into 1,400 waterways, data indicated in the report called "Wasting Our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act" (available online)

The report, which Environment Iowa issued at an Izaak Walton League facility near the Raccoon River, summarizes discharges of cancer-causing chemicals, chemicals that persist in the environment, and chemicals with the potential to cause reproductive problems ranging from birth defects to reduced fertility. Among the toxic chemicals discharged by facilities are arsenic, mercury, and benzene.