Industrial facilities in Maryland dumped more than two million pounds of toxic chemicals into the Chesapeake Bay in 2007, according to a report released Wednesday by Environment Maryland, an advocacy group. It’s the first time in the last decade the amount of toxic chemicals has increased from one year to the next.
The report outlines possible adverse health effects from exposure to water or contaminated wildlife from the bay, ranging from reduced fertility to cancer. But Heath Kelsey, a scientist with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, said recently that bay water is only dangerous for 48 hours after a heavy rainstorm. Otherwise, the bacteria and pollutants are mostly harmless, he said.
Regardless of the safety aspect, the bay should have been free of toxic chemicals by 1985, according to the 1972 Clean Water Act. Tommy Landers, a field organizer with Environment Maryland said the goal now is to know exactly what is going into the bay and how it affects life in and around the waters. Most chemicals from facilities are untested and assumed harmless, he said.
“This clearly aggravates the already fragile state of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Landers. “Overall, we want to go from an innocent-until-proven-guilty mindset to a guilty-until-proven-innocent mindset.”
- By Capital News Service’s James B. Hale.