Water Pollution

'Dark Waters' And The Battle Against DuPont

Dec 16, 2019
Mark Ruffalo as Robert Bilott in the film "Dark Waters."
Dark Waters / Focus Features

The new film “Dark Waters” starring Mark Ruffalo recalls the two-decade long legal battle with one of the world’s biggest corporations—DuPont—to expose the truth about so-called "forever chemicals." The Cincinnati attorney at the heart of the story has written his own memoir of the story.

On "good" bad days, the shells lie open at the bottom of the river, shimmering in the refracted sunlight. Their insides, pearl white and picked clean of flesh, flicker against the dark riverbed like a beacon, alerting the world above to a problem below.

A satellite photo of the Maumee Bay taken on July 30, 2019 shows what NASA Earth Observatory called a "severe bloom of blue-green algae" spreading across the western basin of Lake Erie.
Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory

Ohio farmers say they’re on board with the state’s plans to slow down agricultural runoff into Lake Erie, which Gov. Mike DeWine has said is the biggest contributor to toxic algae blooms. 

For many people, turning on the tap or flushing the toilet is something we take for granted. But a report released Monday, called "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States," shows that more than 2 million Americans live without these conveniences and that Native Americans are more likely to have trouble accessing water than any other group.

A creek (left) contaminated with acid mine drainage flows past a local rural road while the Carbondale doser (right) works to neutralize some of the acidity before it reaches local streams.
Curren Sheldon / 100 Days In Appalachia

In 1958, researchers from the University of Louisville and the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission gathered at a lock on the Monongahela River for routine collecting, counting and comparing of fish species. 

Gov. Mike DeWine has released details of his plan to improve water quality in Ohio, starting with preventing toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie.  The H2Ohio program will start in the Maumee River watershed near Toledo but he wants to eventually broaden it to rest of the state.

The Cincinnati skyline and John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge is seen from the banks of the Ohio River, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, in Covington, Ky.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

In June 1969, a Time Magazine article garnered national attention when it brought to light the water quality conditions in Ohio: a river had literally caught fire. 

Advocates of stricter fertilizer rules for Ohio’s farms are hopeful an upcoming court decision will better protect Lake Erie from future algae blooms.

After a lengthy and detailed denial from a federal judge in Toledo on a request to dismiss a case regarding pollution discharges into Lake Erie, the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) is cautiously optimistic it will get a ruling forcing the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to institute a total maximum daily load (TMLD) for industrial farms.

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a new proposal that would change how communities test for lead in drinking water. It's the first major update to the Lead and Copper Rule in nearly 30 years, but it does not go as far as many health advocates had hoped.

Fire battalion chief, Silverio Caggiano with the Youngstown Fire Department says keeping the identity of some chemicals used in fracking secret puts the public at risk.
Julie Grant / Allegheny Front

A new analysis by the nonprofit Partnership for Policy Integrity finds that "trade secret" chemicals were injected into gas and oil wells nearly 11,000 times in Ohio during a five-year period. 

The Trump administration is changing the definition of what qualifies as "waters of the United States," tossing out an Obama-era regulation that had enhanced protections for wetlands and smaller waterways.

Thursday's rollback is the first step in a process that will allow the Trump administration to create its own definition of which waters deserve federal protection. A new rule is expected to be finalized this winter.

A majority of people in Northwest Ohio — where algal blooms in Lake Erie are causing public health problems — think there should be new regulations to prevent farm fertilizer and manure from flowing into Lake Erie, according to a poll released Sept. 10.

Officials from Cuyahoga County’s Board of Health will be back out to beaches in Bay Village this week to check for hazards from an algae bloom.

The algae at Columbia Park Beach and Bay Park Beach was found last week.

Tests for the harmful bacteria caused by algae came back under the hazardous threshold, said Tom Fink from the board of health.

An advisory was posted in the park at the end of Columbia Road and the public access was closed off by Bay Village officials.

Kayaker in Cuyahoga River
Mark Urycki / Ideastream

Proposed changes to Ohio's water quality monitoring program would reduce the number of water samples taken from the state's rivers and streams and the number of sampling areas while increasing the size of the areas surveyed.

In Florida, the Army Corps of Engineers is working to combat a growing environmental menace: blue-green algae. Nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from farms and subdivisions combines with warm summer weather to create massive blooms of algae in rivers and lakes that can be toxic.

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