Photo: Wayne Hsieh (Flickr)
A national environmental advocacy group says Indiana ranks first in the nation for the amount of toxic chemicals poured into its waters in 2010. Environment America released the finding in a recent report based on data companies must report to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Environment America spokesperson Shelley Vinyard says the data included measurements of several chemicals including nickel and mercury.
“Environment America recommends that to fix this problem, industrial polluters should switch from using toxic chemicals to safer alternatives,” she says.
The report named the AK Steel plant in Rockport as one of the primary sources of the dumping.
Steel companies traditionally use nitric acid to clean their steel. AK Steel spokesperson Barry Racey says the Rockport plant then flushes the by-product into the Ohio River.
Racey says his company’s chemical releases are “within the strict parameters of the EPA regulations.” He points out that the data for the report is only available because AK Steel reports the chemicals to the EPA.
“While we are required to report that, which we do, nitrates are also released into the river through things like agricultural runoff in far greater amounts than from our plant,” Racey says. “We just have to report it. They don’t.”