Jacksonville, Fla.– Industrial facilities dumped excessive pollution into Florida’s waterways 270 times over 21 months, the tenth worst total in the nation, according to a new report by Environment Florida Research & Policy Center. However, the facilities rarely faced penalties for this pollution. Environment Florida is releasing its Troubled Waters report as the federal government tries to weaken clean water protections and slash enforcement funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the states.
“All Florida waterways should be clean for swimming, drinking water, and wildlife,” said Jennifer Rubiello, state director with Environment Florida. “But industrial polluters are still dumping chemicals that threaten our health and environment, and they aren’t being held accountable.”
In reviewing Clean Water Act compliance data from January 2016 through September 2017, Environment Florida Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group found that major industrial facilities are regularly dumping pollution beyond legal limits set to protect human health and the environment, both in Florida and across the country. After ranking the top ten polluters statewide, local advocates are joining in an effort to raise the alarm for stronger permits, enforceable limits, and more funding for clean water programs.
“The St. Johns River is impaired and vulnerable. Industrial waste and effluent violations, without consequences, won’t fix themselves,” said Shannon Blankinship, Advocacy Director with the St. Johns RIVERKEEPER. “I have seen people fishing, swimming and boating in every single location this report lists as a major violator. These pollutants are toxic to our water, hazardous to our health, and dangerous to the ecosystem.”
Troubled Waters shows that polluters, who are spewing everything from fecal matter to heavy metals to oil and grease into the water, rarely face penalties. In response, the report recommends several measures to ensure stronger enforcement of, and protection for, clean water. Unfortunately, the state legislature passed bills earlier this month that could soon make the pattern of pollution worse.
“Statewide, we know that more needs to be done to hold these polluters accountable when they violate their permits,” Rubiello said. “This is a call to action, and the report is where we can begin.” See the full report at environmentflorida.org.
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Environment Florida Research & Policy Center works to protect clean water, clean air, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.
St. Johns RIVERKEEPER’s mission is to be an independent voice that defends, advocates, and activates others to protect and restore the St. Johns River. We are a privately-funded, independent and trusted voice for the St. Johns River and the public to whom it belongs.