Survey says West Virginians want ban on mercury “hot spots” enforced, not lifted
Mercury poisoning causes brain damage in children and kidney failure in adults, which is why a ban on dilution zones was originally ordered. “West Virginians are not anti-industry; they just want clean water,” said WV Rivers Coalition executive director Angie Rosser.
Tomblin is one of eight governors who appoint members to the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), which sets water pollution limits for the river. A dozen years ago the commission ordered a ban on the use of so-called mercury dilution zones—basically, concentrated industrial discharge zones where mercury could be diluted, but never removed. Companies that have failed to comply have asked ORSANCO to be excused from the rules. High mercury levels in the Ohio River are one reason why public health officials recommend people do not eat fish from the river.
ORSANCO is holding a public hearing on the matter at 4 p.m. on April 14 in Erlanger, Kentucky. A public comment period is open through May 14.
According to this most recent survey in West Virginia, residents are saying it’s time to get strong on water protections. Among the findings:
- A majority of West Virginia residents believe the state’s water pollution standards are too lax (36.2% much too lax, 37.5% somewhat too lax).
“What this survey shows is that West Virginians want corporations to live up to their responsibilities or face consequences,” said Rosser. “They want Governor Tomblin’s appointees to the Ohio River commission to uphold the reasonable rules already in place—not to scrap them because a handful of companies find them inconvenient.”
The survey results are available online at: www.wvrivers.org/archive/mercurysurvey.pdf.