Environmental Group Says Delaware River Is Fifth Most Polluted

By Desiree Taylor

Industrial facilities dumped 8.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals into New Jersey’s lakes, streams and rivers in 2010. That’s according to a report by Environment New Jersey, a non-profit environmental activist group. The group documented and analyzed dangerous levels of pollutants discharged into America’s waterways by compiling toxic chemical releases reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Arsenic, mercury and benzene are among the toxic chemicals discharged according to Megan Fitzpatrick, of Environment New Jersey. She says exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer, developmental disorders and reproductive disorders.

Included in the report is a list of the 50 waterways across the country with the highest total discharges. The Delaware River ranked fifth on this list. Morses Creek in Union County was 19th. Fitzpatrick says DuPont Chambers Works and ConocoPhillips are the biggest polluters in the state. But she points out that these companies aren’t breaking the law. DuPont Chambers Works issued a statement saying the company has reduced its releases by 60 percent since 1987.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection rejects the Environment New Jersey report. DEP Spokesperson Larry Ragonese calls it “irresponsible” and says the report includes “sketchy facts.” He says the overall water quality in New Jersey has improved over the last 20 years. And he points out that DuPont Chambers Works has met federal and state standards.

Fitzpatrick defends the findings in the report saying “they’re based on EPA data.” Other environmentalist also support it. Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of Delaware Riverkeeper Network says, “The problem is that government agencies allow these discharges to continue by issuing permits to pollute, a perverse interpretation of the Clean Water Act.” Environment New Jersey is calling on president Barack Obama’s administration to strengthen this act.