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Environment Washington Pushing To Close Loopholes In Clean Water Act

Bellamy Pailthorp photo
Members of Environment Washington at the lunchtime release in Seattle of the new report, called Wasting our Waterways.

Industrial polluters dumped more than two million pounds of toxic chemicals into Washington’s waterways in 2012, according to a new report from Environment Washington. The group says tightening federal law could help curb the problem. 

The group used data reported to the Environmental Protection Agency by the polluters themselves. Among the findings: the Lower Chehalis River watershed southwest of Olympia received the second highest volume in the nation of toxins that affect reproductive health. That’s due primarily to chemicals dumped by paper mills, says Anusha Narayanan, a field associate with Environment Washington.

‘With facilities dumping so much pollution, no one should be surprised that more than half of our waterways are unsafe for fishing and swimming, and we should be outraged,”  Narayanan said. 

She says two recent court cases made streams and wetlands exempt from coverage by the federal Clean Water Act. Proposed legislation to close those loopholes is now pending. Environment Washington is campaigning in support of the new rules that would make the law as strong as it was 10 years ago.

“So that small wetlands and tributaries that feed into the sound are clean, and they’re not dumping chemicals into the sound,” she said.

The comment period on the rule was recently extended and is now open through October. 

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to