clean water laws are neglected, at a cost in suffering
Jennifer Hall, 2009-
Messi knows not to drink tap water at home near Charleston. Va.
In fact, her family tried to avoid contact with water.
Her youngest son had scabs on his arms, legs and chest, where he took a shower --
Contaminated with lead, nickel and other heavy metals
Causing a painful rash.
Many of his brother\'s teeth were covered in place of the eaten enamel.
Neighbors will apply special lotion after bathing because of skin burns.
Tests have shown that their tap water contains arsenic, ba, lead, manganese and other chemicals that federal regulators say can cause cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.
\"How do we get digital cables and internet at home instead of clean water? ” said Mrs. Hall-
Messi is a senior accountant at one of the state\'s largest banks.
She and her husband Charles do not live in remote corners of Appalachian.
Charleston, the state capital, is less than 17 miles from her home.
Advertising \"why is it still like this today? ” she asked. When Mrs. Hall-
Messi and 264 neighbors sued nine nearby coal companies for putting hazardous waste into the local water supply system, and their lawyers did not have to look for evidence.
As required by state law, some companies disclose in their reports to regulators that they are illegally concentrating chemicals on the ground --
Pollutants coming out of the residents\' taps.
But national regulators have never imposed fines or penalties on companies for violating pollution laws.
This model is not limited to West Virginia.
About 40 years ago, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, forcing polluters to disclose the toxins they dumped on the waterways and giving regulators the power to fine or imprison criminals.
The states have passed their own pollution regulations.
But in recent years, the New York Times\'s extensive review of water pollution records has found that violations of the Clean Water Act have steadily risen nationwide.
In the past five years alone, chemical plants, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have violated water pollution laws for more than half a million times.
Violations include non-reporting of emissions and dumping of toxins into concentrations, which can lead to cancer, birth defects and other diseases, the regulator said.
However, the vast majority of these polluters have escaped punishment.
State officials have repeatedly ignored obvious illegal dumping and when the state does not act, the Environmental Protection Agency, which can sue the polluters, often refuses to intervene.
Because it is difficult to determine what causes diseases such as cancer, it is impossible to know how many diseases water pollution causes and the role of pollutants in specific personal health problems.
But concerns about these toxins are big enough for Congress and the EUP. A.
More than 100 pollutants are regulated through the Clean Water Act and 91 chemicals or pollutants in tap water are strictly restricted through the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Regulators themselves acknowledge mistakes. The new E. P. A.
Administrator Lisa P.
In an interview, Jackson said that although many successes have been achieved since the adoption of the Clean Water Act in 1972, water in the country today has not met public health goals, the enforcement of water pollution laws is unacceptable.
Strengthening water protection is one of her top priorities, she added.
State regulators say they have done their best with insufficient resources.
The Times, through the Freedom of Information Act, made a request to each state and the EU to obtain thousands of water pollution recordsP. A.
, And developed a national database of water pollution violations, which is more comprehensive than the databases maintained by states or the EUP. A. (
For interactive versions where any community violations can be displayed, visit www. nytimes. Com/poisonous water. )
In addition, The Times interviewed more than 250 state and federal regulators
System managers, environmental advocates and scientists.
The study shows that it is estimated that one out of every 10 Am Americans has been exposed to drinking water containing hazardous chemicals or has not met the federal health benchmark in other respects.
These contacts include carcinogens in tap water in major cities in the United States and unsafe chemicals in drinking water. water wells.
Wells that are generally not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act are more likely to contain contaminants than municipal water supply systems.
Because most of today\'s water pollution has no smell or taste, many people who use hazardous chemicals do not even realize it after they are ill, the researchers said.
But there are 19.
According to a study published last year in the scientific journal of environmental pollution and Toxicology Reviews, 5 million Americans get sick each year from drinking water contaminated with parasites, bacteria or viruses.
This figure does not include diseases caused by other chemicals and toxins.
In the largest dairy farms in the United States, such as Wisconsin and California, farmers sprayed liquefied animal feces into the ground, which had penetrated into wells and caused serious infections.
Parts of the agricultural belt, including cities in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana, have running water containing pesticides that some scientists believe are related to birth defects and fertility problems.
In New York, Rhode Island, Ohio, California and a number of other states where sewer systems cannot accommodate heavy rains, untreated human waste flows into the river and is rushed to the beach.
In parts of New Jersey, New York, Arizona and Massachusetts, drinking water shows some of the highest concentrations of vinyl chloride, a dry cleaning solvent associated with kidney damage and cancer. (
The future Times article will look at specific water pollution types across the United States. )
According to an analysis of the Times, The Times study also showed that 40% of the nation\'s community water supply systems violated the Safe Drinking Water Act at least once last yearP. A. data.
These violations include the failure to maintain proper paperwork, as well as allowing the entry of carcinogens into tap water.
More than 23 million people get drinking water from a health violation of the municipal systembased standard.
In some cases, people get sick immediately.
In other cases, contaminants such as chemicals, inorganic toxins and heavy metals accumulate in the body for many years or decades before causing problems.
Some of the most common contaminants are associated with cancer, birth defects, and neurological diseases.
The records analyzed by The Times show that, according to the reports submitted by the polluters themselves, more than 506,000 companies and other facilities have violated the Clean Water Act more than 23,000 times since 2004.
Companies sometimes only test what they dump once a quarter, so the actual days they break the law tend to be much higher.
Officials say some companies have illegally avoided reporting emissions, so the violations are not on record.
Environmental groups say the number of violations of the Clean Water Act has increased significantly over the past decade.
The consolidated data dates back only five years, but shows that the number of facilities violating the Clean Water Act increased by more than 16% from 2004 to 2007, the most recent year of data integrity.
The polluters include small companies such as gas stations, dry cleaners, shopping malls, and friendly acres of mobile family parks in Ind Laporte.
The company has admitted to regulators that it has dumped human waste on a nearby river for three years.
They also include chemical plants, power plants, sewage treatment centers and one of the largest zinc smelters, Penn horse, which dumped illegally concentrated copper, lead, enter the zinc, chlorine and selenium of the Ohio River.
These chemicals can lead to mental retardation and cancer.
Some violations are minor.
But about 60% of the polluters are considered \"serious non-compliance\"
This means that their violations are the most serious, such as dumping cancer.
Cause contamination of chemicals, or cannot be measured or reported in the event of contamination.
Finally, the Times study showed that less than 3% of clean water violations resulted in fines or other significant penalties from state officials. And the E. P. A.
Often refusing to prosecute polluters, or forcing states to step up law enforcement by threatening to withhold federal funds or depriving the agency of power to grant state officials.
For example, neither the friendly Mobile Home Park nor the horse head were fined for violating the Clean Water Act over the past eight years.
A representative of friendly acres declined to comment.
Indiana officials say they are investigating the mobile home park.
A representative from Matou said the company had taken steps to control pollution and was in consultation with regulators to clean up emissions.
Many state and federal lawmakers say they don\'t know how widespread pollution is.
\"I don\'t think anyone realizes how bad things get,\" said Representative James L . \"
Minnesota Democrat Barack Obama said in an interview with The Times. Mr.
Oberstar is the chairman of the House Committee on Transport and Infrastructure, which has jurisdiction over many watersquality issues. “The E. P. A.
\"The states have given up the ball completely,\" he said . \".
\"Without supervision and enforcement, the company will use our lakes and rivers as dumping sites --
This is what is clearly happening. ”The E. P. A.
Jackson\'s appointment was confirmed on January, and she said in an interview that she intended to strengthen the implementation of the Clean Water Act and put pressure on the states to apply the law.
\"From day one, I have been saying that I want to solve these water problems nationwide,\" she said . \".
Friday, E. P. A.
Says it\'s reviewing dozens of coal.
Mining permits in West Virginia and three other states to ensure that they do not violate the Clean Water Act. After E. P. A.
On June, officials received detailed questions from The New York Times.
Jackson sent a memo to her law enforcement representative statingP. A.
\"The expectations of this government for the effectiveness of our clean water enforcement program have not been met.
E. data providedP. A.
This shows that, in many parts of the country, the level of serious non-compliance with licensing requirements is unacceptable and the extent of law enforcement activities is unacceptable.
State officials attribute rising pollution rates to increased workload and reduced resources.
In 46 states, local regulators have primary responsibility for key aspects of the Clean Water Act.
Although the number of regulated facilities has more than doubled over the past 10 years, law enforcement budgets in many countries have remained largely unchanged after inflation adjustments.
In New York, for example, the number of regulated polluters has almost doubled in the past decade to 19,000, but the number of inspections per year has remained at about the same level.
But resource tensions are only part of the reason for polluting companies to evade punishment.
The Times survey shows that powerful industries often successfully lobby in West Virginia and other states to disrupt effective regulation.
State officials also believe that water pollution statistics include minor violations, such as the failure to submit a report, which do not pose a risk to human health, the records collected by The Times did not review informal law enforcement methods, such as sending warning letters.
Randy Hoffman, minister of environmental protection in West Virginia, said: \"We worked very hard to inspect our coal mines, analyze water samples, and notify the company when we find violations . \".
\"When I saw how much progress we have made in protecting the waters of the state since we were responsible for the Clean Water Act, I think we have a lot to be proud.
But uncontrolled pollution is still a problem in many states.
West Virginia provides an obvious example of companies evading punishment.
A community of Mrs. Hill\'s home around the square. Hall-
Messi\'s family and the capital near West Virginia have already started mining coal.
The area has enjoyed good clean water for many years.
But starting about a decade ago, local faucets began to smell bad.
Water is sometimes gray, cloudy and oily.
The bathtub and washer are rusty
Scrub the color ring that cannot be removed. When Mrs. Hall-
Messi\'s husband, who installed an industrial water filter, quickly turned black.
Tests have shown that their water contains toxic lead, manganese, chromium and other metals that may cause organ failure or developmental problems.
At about that time, nearby coal companies had begun to discharge industrial waste underground.
Mining companies often wash coal to remove impurities.
The rest of the liquid
Black liquid containing dissolved minerals and chemicals, called sludge or mud
It is usually disposed of in a vast lagoon or by injecting abandoned mines.
The liquids in these lagoons and shafts can flow into the water through cracks on Earth.
The company must regularly send samples injected with liquid to the laboratory, which provides reports forwarded to the national regulatory authority.
Eight miles around the lady. Hall-
Maxi\'s home, coal companies have invested more than one.
According to a review of thousands of state records, 9 billion gallons of slurry and sludge have entered the ground since 2004.
Millions more gallons are poured into the lagoon.
These underground injections contain concentrations of chemicals that pose a serious health risk, and according to reports sent to the state by the company itself, thousands of injections violate national regulations and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
For example, three coal companies
Loading, energy company under Remington coal qingsongling, the world\'s largest coal enterprise --
Reported to state officials that 93% of the waste they injected near this community contained illegal concentrations of chemicals, including arsenic, lead, chromium, beryllium or nickel.
Advertising sometimes exceeds the concentration set by law by 1,000.
These chemicals have been shown to contribute to cancer, organ failure, and other diseases.
But according to state records, these companies have never been fined or punished for these illegal injections.
They have never even been told that their activities have been noticed.
Remington coal declined to comment.
A representative of the parent company of Loadout said that the company had transferred the license to another company, which stopped the injection on 2006.
Pibodi Energy, which spun off Songling in 2007, said some of the data sent to regulators was inaccurate and that the company\'s actions reflected best industry practices.
When asked about these violations, West Virginia officials said regulators inadvertently ignored many of the pollution records that these companies had filed before the statute of limitations passed, and therefore did not take any action.
They also said that their study showed that these injections did not affect drinking water in the area and that other injections did not detect the effect.
State officials noted that since 2000, they have cited more than 4,200 water pollution violations in mining areas across the state and conducted thousands of investigations.
The state has begun to study how mining affects water quality.
After receiving a question from The Times, officials announced a suspension of injection licenses across the state and told companies that regulators were investigating their injections.
\"Many of the issues you are working on have been in history for several years and many have been resolved,\" West Virginia officials wrote in a statement . \".
The state\'s pollution program \"has its own problems,\" the regulator wrote \".
However, \"it is important to note that if a rigorous review of our country is for other countries, it is likely that similar issues will be found.
\"Records show that more than 350 other companies and facilities in West Virginia have also violated the Clean Water Act in recent years.
These violations include the release of illegal concentrations of iron, manganese, aluminum and other chemicals to lakes and rivers.
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Like the water on the lady. Hall-
The situation in the Messi community continues to deteriorate and residents are complaining about an increase in health issues.
Gallbladder disease, fertility problems, miscarriage, and kidney and thyroid problems became common, according to the interview. When Mrs. Hall-
Messi\'s family left while on vacation and her son\'s rash disappeared.
When they came back, the rash appeared again.
Her dentist told her that chemicals seemed to be damaging her teeth and her son\'s teeth, she said.
As her water quality deteriorated,Hall-Massey’s once-
Healthy teeth require a lot of crowns.
Her son often brushes his teeth and rinses with fluoride twice a day, and no candy is allowed.
Still, he continued to get tooth decay until the family stopped using tap water.
When his brother\'s teeth began to fall off, the family was brushing their teeth with bottled water.
He has no problems with his teeth.
Advertising medical professionals in the region say the incidence of health problems among residents is very high.
A nurse employed by the wife investigated more than 100 residentsHall-
Lawyers for Messi say as many as 30% of people in the region have removed their bladder, and as many as half of the residents suffer from severe enamel damage, chronic stomach problems and other diseases
The study was confirmed by interviews with residents.
It is difficult to determine which companies, if any, are responsible for the pollution entering tap water and which specific chemicals, if any, are responsible for specific health issues.
Many coal companies said they did not pollute the area\'s drinking water and chose the injection sites that flowed out of nearby houses.
An independent study by University researchers challenged some of these claims.
\"I don\'t know what else is going to pollute these wells,\" said Ben Stott, a biology professor at the Spirit Jesuit University, who tested the water in this community and elsewhere in West Virginia.
\"The chemicals that come out of people\'s taps are the same as those that coal companies emit to the ground. One night, madam. Hall-Massey’s 6-year-
Clay, the old son, asked to play in the bathtub.
When he came out, his bright red rash hurt him so much that he could not sleep. Soon, Mrs. Hall-
Messi began complaining to government officials.
She recalled that they told her that they did not know why her water was not good, but suspected that the coal company had done something wrong.
The family put their house on the market, but the buyer is not interested due to the water.
December, madam. Hall-
Messi and his neighbors filed a lawsuit in the county court for compensation.
The proceedings are under trial.
In order to resolve the related proceedings brought about at about the same time, the community regularly transported clean drinking water today, stored in a cooler or blue tub outside most homes.
In August, a pipeline to bring fresh water to the community began construction.
But now most residents still wash, bathe and wash dishes with contaminated water.
\"The only real job for parents is to protect our children . \"Hall-Massey said.
\"But where is the government when we need the government to protect us from these things?
Regulators \"overpowered\" 43-year-old Matthew gramyear-
The old lawyer wants to protect people like his wife. Hall-Massey.
That\'s why he joined the Environmental Protection Agency in West Virginia in 2001, when it became clear that rivers and rivers in the state and across the country were becoming more and more polluted.
But he said he soon understood that good intentions could not compete with intimidating politicians and terrible bureaucracy. Mr. advertising
Kram grew up in the Golden Age of protectionism.
When Congress passed the Clean Water Act of 1972 in response to an environmental disaster, he was in primary school, including the burning of the contaminated kehooga River in Cleveland.
The aim of the bill is to eliminate most of the water pollution by 1985 and to ban \"discharge of toxic pollutants \".
\"A group of us grew up using clean water as an example of inspiration,\" he said . \".
\"I want to be part of this fight.
In the 20 years since the bill was passed, American waters have become healthier.
The kehooga River, the Virginia-West-Virginia river and hundreds of other beaches, streams and ponds are all back to life.
But according to regulators and environmental activists, at the end of 1990, some states began to gradually reduce the enforcement of pollution laws. Soon the E. P. A.
It began to report that the rivers, lakes and estuary of the country became more dirty again. Mr.
Kram worked with the Justice Department in Washington for a while, and after his first child was born, he joined the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, with the new leadership working to revitalize the Clean Water Act.
He said his idealism was tested in two weeks when he was asked to leak a large amount of coal into the river.
\"I saw our inspector at the scene of the leak and we had a very embarrassing conversation ,\"Crum recalled.
\"I said we should close the mine before we finish cleaning everything.
The inspector agreed, but said he was afraid of being demoted or transferred to a remote location if he made an order.
Everyone is afraid to do their work. ”Mr.
Kram temporarily closed the mine.
Over the next two years, he shut down many heavily polluted mines until they changed the way they were produced.
His tough attitude has raised his profile in the state.
Worried about attracting mining companies
Executives during the period said the concern at Kram began to improve their waste disposal practices.
But they recalled in an interview that they also began complaining to friends of the state\'s legislature and launched a whisper campaign accusing Obama
Crit for specific companies
Although these executives now acknowledge that they have no evidence of these allegations.
In 2003, Stephanie Timmermeyer, the new director, was nominated to manage the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
One of the most powerful state councillors in West Virginia, yestas Frederick, says she will be confirmed, but only if she agrees to fire yestas Frederick
According to several people, they witnessed the dialogue.
She got the job and soon summoned the gentleman.
Send Crum to her office.
Two weeks after the second child was born, he was fired. Ms.
Timemmeyer, who resigned on 2008, did not call back. Mr.
Frederick died last year.
Since then, hundreds of workplaces in West Virginia have violated pollution laws without paying fines. A half-
In the interview, more than a dozen current and former employees said that their law enforcement efforts were undermined by the bureaucracy and that if they promised to work harder, the department would tend to let the polluters get away with it, and the revolving door of the regulator, they move in a higher direction
Working in a company they once supervised.
An employee who did not want to be named said: \"We are not enough and overwhelmed. this is what the industry wants us to do . \" He was afraid of being fired.
\"It has been clear for decades that we are not on the most important thing, and that coal companies have relied on this to earn billions of dollars.
Four environmental groups applied to the EU in June. P. A.
Citing the state\'s \"almost complete collapse\", it took over most of West Virginia\'s treatment of the Clean Water Act. The E. P. A.
State officials have been asked to respond and said a petition is being investigated.
Similar problems exist in other states, with critics saying regulators often turn a blind eye to polluters.
Regulators in five other states said in an interview that they were under pressure from the industry --
Friendly politicians will stop continuing pollution investigations. “Unless the E. P. A.
It is pushing the national regulator, and a culture of disorientation and indifference is beginning to emerge, \"said William K.
Lead Reilly of E. P. A.
Under President George H. W. Bush.
In response, many state officials defended their efforts.
For example, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said that between 2006 and 2008, the number of stops
Regulatory agencies issued operational orders 10% higher than during his tenure. Crum’s two-year tenure. Mr. advertising
Hoffman, head of the department, said there was no political intervention in the current investigation.
State Department officials said they continued to improve the agency\'s procedures and noted that the regulator had assessed $14.
Since 2006, more than 70 mining companies have been fined 7 million by the state.
However, according to the financial report, this is approximately the equivalent of the income collected by the parent companies of these businesses every 10 hours. (
To learn about law enforcement records in each state and read reviews from regulators, visit www. nytimes. com/waterdata. )
\"The real test is, is our water clean? ” said Mr. Huffman.
\"When the Clean Water Act was passed, the river that flows through our capital was very dirty.
Thirty years later, it was cleaner because we chose the priorities carefully.
Some regulators have admitted that polluting companies have fallen from cracks.
To really improve law enforcement, they say. P. A. needs to lead.
\"If you don\'t have strong federal oversight, everything becomes weak,\" he said . \"Crum.
\"Unless regulators know that Washington or the governor\'s office will support them, they can\'t afford some backbone. ”It took Mr.
Recovered from his shooting.
He moved to Virginia to work at conservation.
Today, he is practicing in private and occasionally dealing with environmental litigation.
\"It\'s heartbreaking that we\'re going backwards,\" he said.
Disadvantages of E. P. A.
The memo was marked as \"non-distribution \".
They are by E this year. P. A.
The staff, the climax of five people
Annual State investigations to enforce federal pollution laws.
In plain bureaucratic terms, they describe a regulatory system --at the E. P. A.
In state institutions
This does not work at all in many ways.
According to a memo, federal regulators have known for years that more than 30 states have had significant problems recording which companies have violated pollution laws.
Another participant pointed out that countries \"lack direction, capacity or training for personnel\" and are unable to impose a large enough fine on polluting enterprises.
But there are often emails, the memo says. P. A.
Even if these issues are widely recognized, they have never been corrected. The E. P. A.
\"It may be hesitant to roll out these states from\" fear of endangering their relationship, \"a report wrote.
Another note E. P. A.
There is a lack of a \"consistent national oversight strategy\" for each office.
\"Some of these memos are part of the effort known as the National Review framework and are obtained from institutional employees who require anonymity, while others are obtained through the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.
Under the administration of President George W, enforcement mistakes were particularly serious.
Bush, employees say.
\"In the past eight years, my hands have been tied . \"P. A.
Officials who asked for anonymity for fear of revenge.
\"We were told to put our clean water and clean air box in a box and lock it.
Everyone knows that the polluters got away with murder.
But these polluters are one of the biggest campaign contributors in town, so no one really cares if they dump poison into the stream. ”The E. P. A.
Administrative staff for the past eight years
Kristen Todd Whitman Michael O.
Levitt and Stephen L. Johnson —
All declined to comment.
President Obama\'s choice
Jackson will lead E. P. A.
Many environmental activists and staff are encouraged.
During his campaign
Obama pledged to \"revive the drinking water standards weakened by the Bush administration and update them to address new threats.
He promised to regulate the water pollution caused by animal husbandry and to promote the revision of the Clean Water Act.
But some worry that these promises will not be fulfilled.
The water problem has replaced other environmental problems such as carbon emissions.
In an interview
Jackson noted that many American waters are healthier today compared to when the Clean Water Act was passed, and said she intends to enforce it more vigorously.
After receiving detailed questions from The Times, she placed many national review framework documents on the agency\'s website and ordered more disclosure of the agency\'s treatment of water issues, strengthen law enforcement and improve technology to make environmental records of facilities easier to access.
Advertising \"do critics have any good and effective views when they say they need improvement?
\"Of course . \"Jackson said.
\"But I think we need to be careful not to do this by scaring bejesus into thinking, kid, things are terrible.
What it needs is attention and I will pay attention.
In the statement, E. P. A.
Officials noted that from 2006 to 2008, the agency conducted 11,000 Clean Water Act and 21,000 Safe Drinking Water Act inspections and handed over 146 cases to the Ministry of Justice.
Officials wrote that between 2007 and 2008, 92% of the population served by the community water supply system received water that did not report health --
Based on violations.
The report of the times \"does not distinguish between major violations and minor violations,\" the statement added, so the conclusion may present a disturbing picture.
They wrote, \"many of the country\'s water quality problems are caused by non-point pollution sources such as agricultural runoff that cannot be corrected by law enforcement alone.
Lawmakers and environmental activists say ultimately, the best solution is to hold an e-commerce conference in Congress. P. A.
The state is responsible for their failure.
They added that the Clean Water Act should be extended to other types of pollution --
Run-off like farm and livestock
This is largely unregulated.
They say Congress should give more resources to state agencies, just as federal funds helped reform America\'s sewage treatment system in 1970.
Some say there will be no change without public anger.
\"When we started regulating water pollution in the 1970 s, the public strongly protested because you could see untreated sewage flowing into the river,\" said William D . \"
Ruckelshaus, under the leadership of President Richard M. , served as the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency
Nixon, then under President Reagan
\"Today\'s violations are much more subtle --
\"You can\'t see or smell more dangerous pesticides and chemicals,\" he added . \".
\"So the huge public pressure on regulators has subsided.
Carl Russell was involved.
A version of the article appears on the print on page A1 of the New York edition, titled: clean water laws are ignored and costly.
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