Cleaning Up Our Rivers

With Pittsburgh’s strong history in steel and other mill work, it comes with little surprise that our rivers have become extremely polluted. Over the years, industries have been pouring chemicals into the three rivers leading to incredibly polluted waters.

According to one study, Pennsylvania is ranked second in river pollution just to Texas. Environmental Advocacy group Penn Environment says that one of the worst polluters in PA is located just up the Monongahela.

Penn Environment cites Eastman Chemical to be dumping 72 times their allowed rate over a 21-month period. Other companies were cited as well but not to the extent of Eastman. However, “Approximately 40 percent of all major industrial facilities–more than 1,100 in total–reported exceeding their pollution limits at least once,” said the report.

According to the report, Eastman is dumping zinc, styrene, and xylene into the Monongahela. Zinc, being a heavy metal, can greatly impact human health. Zinc poisoning can lead to things such as vomiting, diarrhea, copper deficiency, infection, and other flu-like symptoms.

The three rivers are commonly used for fishing, boating, etc. and people need to know about the hazards incorporated with the pollution. If this continues, we could see a huge impact to local wildlife as well as other things.

The clean water act was established in 1972, to clean up the pollution that filled our rivers. Since then Pittsburgh has proudly shared the progress we have made to the world. Now, we see that what we have actually done still needs work. Companies are constantly fighting everything that has been accomplished.

It almost seems that everything we have worked on improving is being cancelled out because of companies like Eastern Chemical. Why do we allow these organizations to continue to destroy what we love? These companies need to be stopped. To do that they first need to be punished for what they have done. What penalties do we have in place for such actions? I think that there needs to be stricter regulations on these polluters. If they cause an infraction, then they need to be watched more closely. People don’t want to lose their jobs so eventually these companies will improve.

We need to stop companies from polluting in our beloved waters. The three rivers are a staple of Pittsburgh and we need to protect what we hold so dear. When you drive into the city through the tunnels, some of the first things you see are the rivers. We cannot allow that beautiful reputation to be tarnished by pollution. We need to clean up our rivers. I know this isn’t a task accomplished overnight, but a little work at a time goes a long way. It’s a long road to recovery, but it’s easier when everyone works together.

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