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Today’s number: 6.1 million pounds

Thursday, Jun 26, 2014

* Progress Illinois

Industrial facilities discharged 6.1 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Illinois’ rivers and streams in 2012, shows a new report by the Environment Illinois Research & Education Center.

The “Wasting Our Waterways” report ranks Illinois as the 13th worst U.S. state for the total volume of toxic industrial releases to waterways.

At the national level, polluting facilities dumped 206 million pounds of harmful chemicals into American waterways in 2012, according to the report. And some 8.39 million pounds of toxic pollution were discharged into the Great Lakes watershed. Ammonia, chromium and lead are among the chemicals released into Illinois’ waterways, according to the report. […]

The biggest water polluter in Illinois was the Tyson Fresh Meats animal slaughtering facility in Hillsdale. The facility discharged nearly 2.6 million pounds of toxic pollution into the Lower Rock River watershed in 2012, the report showed.

The report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    There goes the Sierra Club endorsement for Governor Quinn.

  2. - liandro - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    The Rock River, here in northern IL, actually seems to have gotten better over the past decade according to some local activists. I don’t have time to read the report at the moment, but heaven knows that river was getting trashed for quite awhile. It’s a crime to slaughter a natural resource like that.

    Did the report comment on the historical trends? I’m curious if the Rock has actually gotten cleaner or not.

  3. - Judgment Day (on the road) - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    Having much more than a passing familiarity with the Clean Water Act, I find it interesting that these guys are shooting at industry, when the real meaningful issues revolve more around outdated wastewater treatment facilities and potable (drinking) water treatment plants.

    This ’study’ looks to be one more ‘hit piece’ trying to expand federal EPA & US Corps of Engineer’s reach under the Clean Water Act to even smaller ‘bodies of water’, or even down to ‘temporary’ bodies of water. It becomes a permitting nightmare for the average citizen, and worse, all these new Clean Water regs get dumped into the already way overburdened workloads of each state government EPA (think IEPA in this case).

    We’ve already got the federal (EPA)/state (IEPA) still trying to push NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination Standards) down the throats of all the local health departments - we don’t need, nor can we handle any more nonsense. It’s literally a paper blizzard. And financially, the costs and time required (and the hoops to jump through) are just ridiculous.

    Obviously, these folks have never had to go through even the current regulatory process.

  4. - Amalia - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    polluting facilities and their corporate overlords should be watched for campaign contributions. They are big, and easiest to target.,

    but wonder how many pounds of toxic pollution flow into our water from those who use products like or services like Chem Lawn? chemical compounds used at in our homes, on our bodies and on our property contributes greatly to pollution. those are more difficult regulations. convince your friends and neighbors.

  5. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    Judgement Day, if Tyson Fresh Meats dumped 2.6 million pounds of toxic pollution into the Lower Rock River watershed in 2012, are the existing regulations adequate?

  6. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:28 pm:

    == if Tyson Fresh Meats dumped 2.6 million pounds of toxic pollution into the Lower Rock River watershed in 2012, are the existing regulations adequate?==

    Apparently not. They should have been dumping 12.6 million pounds because jobs.

  7. - What Do I Know - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    I just don’t think that using the term toxic pollution is a very accurate statement as used in the report. First of all, in the aggregate, facilities do put this much effluent into water bodies in Illinois. There’s no denying that without looking at the reports hard data. However, facilities are required to obtain an NPDES permit that ensures that its effluent does not exceed the threshold level for toxicity as applied to the most sensitive species in the ecosystem.

    A more tempered and scientific conclusion is appropriate, but this is how organizations like Progress Illinois operate by using disinformation.

    Also, many of the waterbodies in Illinois are considered impaired due to the historical levels of pollution that existed prior to the enactment of the Clean Water Act.

  8. - Judgment Day (on the road) - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    “Judgement Day, if Tyson Fresh Meats dumped 2.6 million pounds of toxic pollution into the Lower Rock River watershed in 2012, are the existing regulations adequate?”

    When I see a statement like that one, I always ask what exactly is the breakdown of the ‘toxic pollution’ - are we talking untreated animal waste (very unlikely). Or are we talking treated effluent? Also, what is the current allowable discharge of such ‘toxic pollution’ (realize, ‘zero’ isn’t achievable in most cases).

    Is there already a consent decree in place that is being worked through? You’ll notice that none of those types of questions are addressed.

    Just as a point, that’s 7,123 Lbs. and change per 24 hours of ‘toxic pollutants’. Bluntly, for this type of facility, that may fall within guidelines/consent decree. You might want the release to go down to zero, but that’s not always technically possible.

  9. - Keyser Soze - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:22 pm:

    Define toxic. This is straight from the greenies playbook. Don’t be too surprised if the toxic pollutants turn out to be about as virulent as table salt.

  10. - A guy... - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:37 pm:

    I’m sort of interested in what this definition of toxic is as well. Renderings?

  11. - siriusly - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    It’s progress that we know how much water pollution we allow. Now we just need to allow much less. Including municipal waste water.

  12. - MikeMacD - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    “Define toxic.”

    The report uses data from the EPA’s Toxics Release
    Inventory (TRI).

    According to the report, in 2012 there were “..229 toxic chemicals or classes of toxic chemicals..”. Appendix C lists the chemical name and their effect on human health.

    Sodium Chloride is not on the list.

  13. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:20 pm:

    Aren’t there any whiz kids out there who can figure out a way to get rid of poison other than dumping it into fresh water?

    That seems to be a missing link in scientific research.

  14. - Mason born - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:30 pm:

    Siriusly points out one of the main sources of pollution in the State in Municipal Waste Water. One of the worst offenders is Chicago MWRD. In particular the Sanitary ship canal. The diference is MWRD has variances that allow them to discharge higher levels of BOD, Phosphorus etc. than other municipal wate systems.

  15. - Old Hippy - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:33 pm:

    Great spin by the Enviros. Bottom line these discharges of “toxics” are from NPDES [Illinois EPA] wastewater treatment facilities. The majority of the toxics are of low toxicity [example nitrates from]and not the “sensational” toxics such as PCB and other man-made organics.

  16. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:33 pm:

    ===Aren’t there any whiz kids out there who can figure out a way to get rid of poison other than dumping it into fresh water?===

    How are we supposed to compete with China and Mexico if we can’t dump toxins into our water supply?

  17. - Judgment Day (on the road) - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:40 pm:

    “Aren’t there any whiz kids out there who can figure out a way to get rid of poison other than dumping it into fresh water?”

    You still have to separate the ‘poisons’ from the ‘water’. And then, you have to clean the water to EPA standards. And then you have to deal with the ‘poisons’ (incineration, anyone?).

    Or, you can do what technology is currently trying to do, which is use Graphene based filters (once created) as a potentially far more efficient way to clean water and control the resulting contaminates (hostile substances) removed from the water.

    Only there are still a few problems, being that we’re in the early days of development. Technology development isn’t linear in the initial development phase.

    Maybe if we stopped wasting money on windmills here in IL and spent that money instead on material sciences/whiz kids at the University of IL - Urbana Champaign we’d be a lot better off in the long run. Probably would even get a number of well paying jobs out of it (long term) here in IL. But can’t do that because we still have to keep feeding all the crony capitalists.

  18. - logic not emotion - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 3:40 pm:

    I’m in complete agreement with Judgment Day.

    Mason born points out a fact that many don’t realize. The Chicago area legislators helped push NPDES that adversely and disproportionately impact downstate residents without scientific justification while granting themselves big variances. NPDES puts local health departments in a bad spot.

  19. - Judgment Day (on the road) - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    “The Chicago area legislators helped push NPDES that adversely and disproportionately impact downstate residents without scientific justification while granting themselves big variances.”
    Except it’s not working for them either, and it’s really going to put them on the spot (eventually). Here’s how it plays out in real life:

    Just as a btw, there’s nothing like facing a truly enraged homeowner who finds out that he’s located in a village/municipality in Cook or one of the collar counties, is on private well/septic, and finds out that he/she has water/sewer problems, can’t fix anything without first meeting all the NPDES crap, can’t hook into the village/municipal systems (regardless of cost, and it’s serious bucks!) because under the Clean Water Act requirements the sanitary districts have no usable excess capacity, and has virtually no alternatives under current law (maybe an ATU and trucking in fresh water), and probably can’t even sell their residence. Oh, and the bills for doing all the paperwork will probably top $5k before one shovelful of dirt gets turned.

    That’s reality. I’ve seen it happen - several times.

    So, let’s screw it up some more by adding more laws.

  20. - MikeMacD - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 4:15 pm:

    Appendix A-1 of the report breaks down by state the total discharge and their calculated weighted discharge by toxicity (weighting by EPA’s “Toxicity-Weighted Pounds

    The 6.1 million lbs. headline of the post for Illinois has a weighted discharge of 37 thousand lbs.

    For comparison, Texas, which is often referred to on this blog, had a total discharge of 16.5 million lbs. with a toxicity weighted discharge of 34.4 million lbs. ranking it number 2 and 1 respectively. Louisiana, number 2 in weighted discharge, had a weighted discharge of 3.2 million lbs. Quite a difference between number 1 and 2.

  21. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    The idea we can’t have alternative energy and clean water is silly JD.

  22. - Mason born - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 4:36 pm:


    That isn’t the only issue with the steps MWRD has taken. What they have in effect done is transfer the cost of treating that water to the IL Cities and towns, Peoria for one, who use the waters the CSSC flows into for drinking water. As well as those in MO and further down river.

  23. - Anon - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 5:14 pm:

    Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. The byproducts of animal agriculture pollute our air and waterways. By reducing our consumpion of animal products we can help the environment. For better health and a cleaner environment join the “Meatless Monday” movement.

  24. - Judgment Day (on the road) - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 5:49 pm:

    “The idea we can’t have alternative energy and clean water is silly JD.”
    Didn’t say you can’t. But being that the general public seems really, really reluctant to raise taxes, what’s your alternative?

    I got a couple of ideas. How about not spending $52 mil to hand out flyers to reduce violence in Chicago, and instead use that money toward updating all the different municipal/sanitary district physical plant needs? Maybe we can pickup an extra $100 mil or so by not funding a presidential library? Go a long way toward fixing some issues.

    Course doing that would just be silly…..

  25. - yinn - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 5:53 pm:

    I used to test water from the Kishwaukee on a monthly basis for the Sierra Club. Some pollutants would not normally be seen as toxic per se because they are actually soil nutrients — but too much “nutrition” (e.g., from farm runoff) can contribute to the algae blooms that harm fish.
    Liandro et al, if you want to know the status of your watershed, check with the Sierra Club.

  26. - no choice - Friday, Jun 27, 14 @ 1:43 am:

    Got to feed people.

  27. - Mason born - Friday, Jun 27, 14 @ 7:24 am:


    Sorry to be late on this. However i want to point out that those nutrients Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) are the nutrients being released by Municipal plants.

  28. - Anonymous - Friday, Jun 27, 14 @ 8:23 am:

    The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process is a much more current process than the old NPDES. The CWA requires TMDLs to be calculated for all waterbodies, listing of impaired waters and limits for each pollutant. The impaired waters are addressed in a priority system published annually. The two process should not be confused since more of the recent effort nationwide has been on the TMDL process.

  29. - Anon - Friday, Jun 27, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    The biggest water polluter in Illinois was the Tyson Fresh Meats animal slaughtering facility in Hillsdale. The facility discharged nearly 2.6 million pounds of toxic pollution into the Lower Rock River watershed in 2012, the report showed.
    The biggest water polluter in Illinois was the Tyson Fresh Meats animal slaughtering facility in Hillsdale. The facility discharged nearly 2.6 million pounds of toxic pollution into the Lower Rock River watershed in 2012, the report showed.

    The biggest water polluter in Illinois was the Tyson Fresh Meats animal slaughtering facility in Hillsdale. The facility discharged nearly 2.6 million pounds of toxic pollution into the Lower Rock River watershed in 2012, the report showed. ==
    Vegetarians aren’t responsible for this pollution.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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