gallery Carelessness: destroying our water & our health

Contaminating water is becoming an industrial pastime in America. While we have the legislation to protect our water resources, some industries just don’t seem to care or don’t think to implement preventative strategies. What is enabling this–is it lack of respect and concern, lenient regulations,  loopholes in laws, government agencies lacking integrity, dishonest and inconsiderate actions by people who know better? Litter is litter, whether it’s a styrofoam cup, candy wrapper, or costly-to-dispose-of chemical byproducts and sludge, garbage and waste, especially toxic waste, belong in areas designated for waste and garbage–not waterways, not rivers, not oceans, not underground aquifers.  Less than 2% of all water on earth is fresh water and available for our use.

The following excerpt is from the report, Wasting Our Waterways, Toxic Industrial Pollution and Restoring the Promise of the Clean Water Act

Toxic chemicals linked to serious health effects were released in large amounts to America’s waterways in 2012.

Cancer: Industrial facilities released more than 1.4 million pounds of chemicals linked to cancer into 688 local watersheds during 2012, including arsenic, benzene and chromium. The North Fork Humboldt River watershed in Nevada received the largest release of carcinogens among local watersheds, followed by the Lake Maurepas watershed in Louisiana. •

Developmental damage: More than 460,000 pounds of chemicals linked to developmental disorders were released into more than 600 local watersheds. Nevada’s North Fork Humboldt River watershed suffered the most developmental toxicant releases among local watersheds, followed by the Lake Maurepas watershed in Louisiana. •

Fertility problems: Approximately 4.4 million pounds of fertility-reducing chemicals were released to more than 600 local watersheds. The Lower Chehalis River watershed in northwestern Washington, which flows into a bay surrounded by wildlife refuges, state parks and beaches, received the second-highest volume of reproductive-toxic releases in the nation.

“Toxic chemicals dumped into waterways have the potential to seriously and adversely impact human health, and can cause reproductive, neurological, developmental and other problems in humans. Many chemicals are also known to cause cancer.

While only a small percentage of chemicals in use in the U.S. have been thoroughly tested for safety in humans, the state of California has compiled a list of more than 500 chemicals known to be carcinogenic, as well as hundreds of chemicals that are linked to developmental or fertility problems.(21) California’s list includes both industrial pollutants (such as those whose releases are reported to TRI) and those found in consumer products and other contexts. It is also not exhaustive, as the full health effects of the more than 80,000 chemicals used industrially in the U.S. are unknown.(22)

Toxic chemicals released to water can enter the human body in many ways. One way – particularly for PBTs – is by eating fish that have consumed contaminants, such as mercury, in their own food. Humans may also be exposed to these toxic chemicals by swimming, fishing, boating or otherwise using contaminated waterways for recreation. And they may find contaminated drinking water at the tap, as was demonstrated by the tragic chemical leaks in West Virginia in 2014. (See page 20.) In that case, the local water utility did not know of any way to remove the chemical from the drinkingwater supply.(23)” See the full report




The Trillion-Gallon Loophole: Lax Rules for Drillers that Inject Pollutants Into the Earth

“Injection wells have proliferated over the last 60 years, in large part because they are the cheapest, most expedient way to manage hundreds of billions of gallons of industrial waste generated in the U.S. each year. Yet the dangers of injection are well known: In accidents dating back to the 1960s, toxic materials have bubbled up to the surface or escaped, contaminating aquifers that store supplies of drinking water.

There are now more than 150,000 Class 2 wells in 33 states, into which oil and gas drillers have injected at least 10 trillion gallons of fluid.  The numbers have increased rapidly in recent years, driven by expanding use of hydraulic fracturing to reach previously inaccessible resources.

ProPublica analyzed records summarizing more than 220,000 well inspections conducted between late 2007 and late 2010, including more than 194,000 for Class 2 wells. We also reviewed federal audits of state oversight programs, interviewed dozens of experts and explored court documents, case files, and the evolution of underground disposal law over the past 30 years.

Our examination shows that, amid growing use of Class 2 wells, fundamental safeguards are sometimes being ignored or circumvented. State and federal regulators often do little to confirm what pollutants go into wells for drilling waste. They rely heavily on an honor system in which companies are supposed to report what they are pumping into the earth, whether their wells are structurally sound, and whether they have violated any rules.

More than 1,000 times in the three-year period examined, operators pumped waste into Class 2 wells at pressure levels they knew could fracture rock and lead to leaks. In at least 140 cases, companies injected waste illegally or without a permit. Continue reading

From the NRDC and from Ecowatch, maps illustrate water contamination resulting from injecting fracking wastewater (and quite possibly from the the fracking process as well). Does fracking get a free pass?

See the reports from Ecowatch  and the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).

SOLUTIONS                                                                                           Lets protect our groundwater and all our water resources. In so doing, we protect our health. Less than 2% of all the water on earth is fresh and available for our use, let’s respect it.

From the USGS.GOV 

One estimate of global water distribution
(Percents are rounded, so will not add to 100)
Water source Water volume, in cubic miles Water volume, in cubic kilometers Percent of
Percent of
total water
Oceans, Seas, & Bays 321,000,000 1,338,000,000 96.5
Ice caps, Glaciers, & Permanent Snow 5,773,000 24,064,000 68.7 1.74
Ground water 5,614,000 23,400,000 1.69
    Fresh 2,526,000 10,530,000 30.1   0.76
    Saline 3,088,000 12,870,000   0.93
Soil Moisture 3,959 16,500 0.05 0.001
Ground Ice & Permafrost 71,970 300,000 0.86 0.022
Lakes 42,320 176,400 0.013
    Fresh 21,830 91,000 0.26 0.007
    Saline 20,490 85,400 0.006
Atmosphere 3,095 12,900 0.04 0.001
Swamp Water 2,752 11,470 0.03 0.0008
Rivers 509 2,120 0.006 0.0002
Biological Water 269 1,120 0.003 0.0001
Source: Igor Shiklomanov’s chapter “World fresh water resources” in Peter H. Gleick (editor), 1993, Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World’s Fresh Water Resources (Oxford University Press, New York).worlds-water-globe-kids-screen