Virginia is the fifth worst state in the country when it comes to dumping toxic waste into our waterways, according to a new study from Environment Virginia.
On the heels of this report, Governor Terry McAuliffe made a big announcement in environmental policy Tuesday afternoon in Virginia Beach. He signed an executive order that reinstates the climate change commission in order to blunt the impact of rising seas in Virginia.
While experts say we have made progress in addressing some of these problems, they say there's still a long way to go. Millions of pounds of cancer-causing chemicals flow through our waterways in Virginia each year.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Virginia, Virginia ranks in the top five worst states for leaking toxic waste.
"Virginia's waterways should be clean for swimming, for drinking, for supporting wildlife. But too often, our waters have become a polluter's dumping ground,” said Sarah Bucci, campaign director for Environment Virginia.
According to Environment Virginia’s latest report, titled "Wasting our Waterways," 11.8 million pounds of pollution spilled into our water in 2012. About 62 percent of the chemicals came from the Radford Army Ammunition Plant. Aside from recreational use, experts say we need to minimize that output for the sake of maintaining clean drinking water.
"The first step to curb this tide of toxic pollution stands squarely before us. We must restore Clean Water Act protections to all of our rivers and streams, and we need to do it now,” said Bucci.
Democratic Senator Donald McEachin says this study serves as a road map to guide upcoming policies.
"That was an eye-opener, and I really think the report has done us a lot of good, I think, in pointing out our deficiencies, encouraging us, and giving us some thoughts about how to make the situation better. I hope to be part of that effort,” said McEachin.
From here, McEachin, along with other advocates of environmental protection, plan to digest the report. He says he'd like to continue working on this issue before the next General Assembly session to propose common sense change based on these recommendations.
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