News Release

Over 2 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Dumped into Missouri's Waterways

For Immediate Release

SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI – Industrial facilities dumped 2,176,285 pounds of toxic chemicals into Missouri’s waterways in 2012, according to a new report by Environment Missouri 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 Missouri and across the nation.

“Missouri’s waterways should be clean – for swimming, drinking, and supporting wildlife,” said Jane Ramsay, with Environment Missouri.  “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 Missouri Research and Policy Center’s report on toxic pollutants discharged to America’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:

  • Missouri is ranked 11th in the nation for highest amount of total developmental toxins, with 13,257 pounds discharged in 2012.
  • In the Upper Black River region, polluters dumped 12,528 pounds of toxic chemicals into our waterways, making this watershed the 4th most polluted in the nation for developmental toxins.
  • Tyson Foods, Inc.’s processing plant in Sedalia was the biggest polluter in Missouri, dumping 743,235 pounds of toxic pollution into our waterways. Furthermore, Tyson Foods, Inc. was the biggest polluter out of all parent companies in the country, releasing 18,556,479 pounds of toxic chemicals.

Environment Missouri 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 Missouri include cancer-causing toxins such as mercury, and developmental toxins such as arsenic, 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 Missouri 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 all of Missouri’s waters.

As a result of court cases brought by polluters, 51,978 miles of streams in Missouri and 6.022 million Missourians’ drinking water are now at risk of having no protection from pollution under the federal Clean Water Act.  Following years of advocacy by Environment Missouri Research and Policy Center and its allies, this spring, the EPA finally proposed a rule to close the loopholes that have left Missouri’s waterways at risk and restore Clean Water Act protections.

But the clean water rule is being vigorously opposed by a wide range of polluting industries. 

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

“Missouri’s waterways shouldn’t be a polluter’s dumping ground,” said Ramsay.  “If we want beautiful places like the Current River to be clean for future generations of Missourians, we must restore Clean Water Act protections to all of our waterways, and we must do it now.”