The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Tennessee Riverkeeper Files Notice of Intent to Sue Wastewater Treatment Plant
Tennessee Riverkeeper has mailed notice of intent to sue the City of Henagar, Alabama over the operation of the Henagar Industrial Park Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Tennessee Riverkeeper alleges persistent and ongoing problems at the plant with multiple discharge violations almost every month since April 2008. The plant has incurred approximately 2,839 violations during that time. Most disturbing are the violations involving release of excessive amounts of the toxins mercury and copper.
The plant's discharge has failed toxicity tests on a regular basis. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposures to mercury can affect the human nervous system and harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system.
Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury, but some contain high levels. Fish absorb methylmercury when they eat aquatic plants, algae and smaller aquatic organisms. Larger and older fish absorb more methylmercury as they eat other fish. In this way, the amount of methylmercury builds up as it passes through the food chain.
Fish eliminate methylmercury slowly, so it builds up in fish in much greater concentrations than in the surrounding water. Methylmercury generally reaches the highest levels in predatory fish at the top of the aquatic food chain.
Elevated levels of copper are toxic in aquatic environments and may adversely affect fish, invertebrates, plants and amphibians. Acute toxic effects may include mortality of organisms; chronic toxicity can result in reductions in survival, reproduction and growth. In humans, small amounts of copper are necessary to maintain good health; however, higher concentrations of copper may cause health effects such as irritation of the nose, mouth and eyes; nausea and diarrhea.
The Henagar Industrial Plant discharges into South Sauty Creek which flows through Buck's Pocket State Park on its way to Lake Guntersville of the Tennessee River. The creek is a popular Class V whitewater run for advanced paddle athletes. Other recreational users of these waters are fishermen, swimmers, campers and hikers. All may be at risk from bodily contact with contaminated water, ingestion of contaminated water or eating fish tainted with toxins.
Tennessee Riverkeeper also mailed notices of intent to sue to Koch Farms and Wright's Hosiery, the two largest industrial dischargers to the treatment plant. Wright's Hosiery bleaches and dies hosiery, then discharges wastewater to the Henagar treatment plant. Tests conducted by the plant show high amounts of copper in their discharge. Wright's discharges so much color in its wastewater that the Henagar plant has been unable to remove enough of it before discharge to comply with its permit. Koch Farms is a poultry hatchery operation that discharges its wastewater to the Henagar treatment plant. Tests have shown high copper amounts discharged by Koch as well.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Bijal Trivedi
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.
By Joe Vukovich
Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.
By Emily Moran
If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."
By Catherine Davidson
Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.
Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.