In 2015, the top 5 Pearl River Basin polluters dumped over 3 million pounds of toxic chemicals into our watershed. The vast majority of this toxic waste came in the form of nitrates from 3 poultry processing companies, Tyson Foods, Peco Foods and Sanderson Farms. Nitrate pollution has numerous "external costs" to the environment which are not paid for by the companies discharging this toxic waste. These external costs, borne by the taxpayer and the public in general, include:
In addition to the nitrate compounds dumped by the poultry processing industry, Georgia-Pacific and International Paper together contributed 443,800 pounds of toxic discharges to our watershed, including manganese compounds, methanol, nitrate compounds, ammonia, barium compounds and acetaldehyde. Georgia-Pacific paper plant in Monticello, MS dumped by far the largest amount of carcinogenic chemicals into the Pearl River watershed with a total value of 16,668 pounds.
This Pearl River Basin chemical discharge data was compiled from the EPA's 2015 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis Report of chemical discharges to air, land and water. U.S. facilities must report their discharges of certain toxic chemicals annually to the EPA. For the most part, the discharge of these chemicals is legally authorized by each state through the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System. Mississippi and Louisiana Departments of Environmental Quality test their waterways, designate the waterway sections as "attaining their designated use" or as "impaired" and make Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) discharge determinations. The TMDL is then used as the basis for discharge permit authorizations.
"Since the creation of the TRI Program, the information collected and presented has provided a way for citizens to better understand possible sources of pollution in their communities. This better understanding can be the basis for actions, such as communications with facilities releasing chemicals to the environment and with regulatory authorities that have oversight responsibilities. This concept of citizen empowerment is summed up by the slogan, 'A Right to Know, A Basis to Act'." EPA.gov.
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Pearl Riverkeeper conducted an analysis on the 2015 Toxic Release Inventory National Analysis Report database published by the EPA. Errors are possible. Please consult the EPA website for the full report.