St. Louis Public Radio News
11:40 am
Thu October 22, 2009

Environmental group says Clean Water Act poorly enforced in Missouri

St. Louis – An environmental group says the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has turned a blind eye to toxic chemicals that are being dumped into the state's streams.

A report from the research and advocacy group Environment America comes on the heels of a similar study from the New York Times. Both studies suggest that regulators across the country of failing to enforce the Federal Clean Water Act.

Kathleen Logan-Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment said a poultry processing plant dumps nearly half a million pounds of pollutants into the Little Muddy Creek in Sedalia each year.

"The slaughter houses and the rendering houses and the amount of nitrates that they're putting into our water, that was really surprising to me," Logan-Smith said. "One facility, 434,000 pounds. We have a problem."

Logan-Smith said Missouri does not regulate levels of toxins in small, "unclassified" streams, and companies that discharge into these waterways are required to do their own reporting.

The group said another area of concern is the high level of heavy metals in streams around Missouri's lead mines.

Department of Natural Resources spokesman Travis Ford said the agency is interested in the report's findings, especially regarding the Doe Run lead mine in southeast Missouri.

"The report mentions Doe Run and the department is well aware of concerns with water discharges from Doe Run," Ford said. "So we are in the process of developing new strict permit limits for Doe Run."