- Mercury in the Ohio River- Press Release 4.13.15
- KWA Mercury in the Ohio River Survey-Public Release
Kentucky’s rivers, along with the people, fish, and plants that depend on them, deserve to be free of toxins. The unfortunate truth is that each year, industries dump more toxic pollution into the Ohio River than any other river in the United States – more than 19 million pounds of mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, PCBs, and more! One of the most dangerous is mercury, a nuerotoxin linked to severe birth defects, including learning disabilities, delayed onset of walking and talking, and cerebral palsy- learn more here.
Most mercury pollution in the Ohio River Basin comes from coal fired power plants creating special “Mixing Zones” in the river. Here, companies mix toxins with river-water to dilute the “mix” to meet the legal limits for water quality.
The problem is that the mercury is still in the water, and still doing its damage. Many of these toxins climb the food chain back out of the river – making their way from water bugs to small fish to big fish to humans, where they cause cancer and birth defects.
Kentucky Waterways Alliance has worked hard to support the state of Kentucky and The Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), both of which have prohibited the creation of new Mixing Zones and required any that exist to be phased out by 2014.
The problem is that ORSANCO, under pressure from the coal power plants, voted to create a “waiver” that industries can use to get around the prohibition for new Mixing Zones or the phase out dates for existing zones. During debate over the waiver option, KWA pulled together a coalition of state and national groups all along the Ohio to battle against it. In the process, we helped generate close to 12,000 comments directed at ORSANCO opposing it and are proud to say that while most ORSANCO votes are unanimous, we helped influence the state of Kentucky to oppose this dangerous decision.
Unfortunately, the option to grant a waiver did pass. Now, the Commission is proposing to completely remove the mixing zone ban, and instead leave it up to individual states. They’re also considering removing a water quality limit on mercury, period.
Mercury levels affect all of us, and we will need your help and support to protect our families and future generations. The ORSANCO Commissioners are appointed by state Governors and we need your help to publicize and make this proposal an issue with the Governor in each state. #ways to give Sign up as a Clean Water Advocate now so you can stay informed about ways to take action against mercury rising in the Ohio River.