News Release

Over 1 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Dumped into Nevada’s Waterways

For Immediate Release

For Immediate Release:  June 19, 2014

Contact: Jack Sears, (301)910-6551, JSears@EnvironmentAmerica.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Industrial facilities dumped 1,169,685 pounds of toxic chemicals into Nevada’s waterways in 2012 according to a new report by Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center.  

The “Wasting Our Waterways” report comes as the Environmental Protection Agency considers a new rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to thousands of waterways in Nevada and across the nation.

“Nevada’s waterways should be clean – for swimming, drinking, and supporting wildlife,” said Ally Fields, clean water advocate with Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center.  “But too often, our waters have become a dumping ground for polluters. The first step to curb this tide of toxic pollution is to restore Clean Water Act protections to all our waterways.”

The Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center report on toxic pollutants discharged to Nevada’s waters is based on data reported by polluting facilities to the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2012, the most recent data available.

Major findings of the report include:

  • Jerritt Canyon Mine was the biggest polluter in Nevada, dumping 1,165,667 pounds of toxic pollution into our waterways.
  • Industrial facilities discharged approximately 283,620 pounds of carcinogenic chemicals into the North Fork Humboldt River – the highest amount for any water in the country by over 100,000 pounds.

Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center’s report 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 infertility. The toxic chemicals dumped in Nevada’s waterways include Arsenic and Lead, which are carcinogenic and developmental toxins, which can affect the way children, grow, learn, and behave.

The report recommends several steps to curb this tide of toxic pollution – including requiring industry to switch from toxic chemicals to safer alternatives.  But Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center is highlighting one part of the solution that could actually become law this year: Restoring the Clean Water Act protections to Nevada’s waters.

As a result of court cases brought by polluters, 127,784 miles of streams in Nevada and tens of thousands of Nevadans’ drinking water are now at risk of having no protection from pollution under the federal Clean Water Act. Following years of advocacy by Environment Nevada and its allies, this spring, the EPA finally proposed a rule to close the loopholes that have left Nevada’s waterways and risk and restore Clean Water Act protections.

But a wide range of polluting industries, including the National Mining Association, is vigorously opposing the clean water rule.

“Looking at the data from our report today, you can see why polluters might oppose it,” said Fields.  “That’s why we are working with farmers, small businesses, and thousands of ordinary Nevadans to make sure our voices for clean water are heard in Washington, D.C.  The future of the Carson River hangs in the balance.”

The public comment period on the clean water rule began the day before Earth Day, and it is still open right now.

“Nevada’s waterways shouldn’t be a polluter’s dumping ground,” said Fields.  “If we want the Carson River to be clean for future generations of Nevadans, we must restore Clean Water Act protections to all of our waterways, and we must do it now.”

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Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard.