Having exposed the nation’s toxic waters, The New York Times‘ Charles Duhigg has now turned his attention to the Safe Drinking Water Act. Duhigg has found that “since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.”
Furthermore, Duhigg found that only 6 percent of violators were ever fined or punished.
Duhigg used EPA data on Safe Drinking Water Act violations as well as other parts of the massive Toxic Waters database.
Thousands of sewage systems around the country have been overwhelmed and dumped “human waste, chemicals and other hazardous materials into rivers and lakes and elsewhere,” according to Charles Duhigg in the latest installment of The New York Times series, “Toxic Waters.”
Despite more than $60 billion distributed to cities to upgrade sewer systems in the 1970s and 1980s, the Times‘ analysis of data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that – in the past three years – more than 9,400 of the nation’s 25,000 sewage systems have violated the Clean Water Act of 1972. Fewer than one in five were fined or penalized.
Duhigg cites research that suggests as many as 20 million people a year get sick from water contaminated by bacteria and pathogens as well as a study showing that the number of children who visited one Milwaukee hospital with serious diarrhea rose when local sewers overflowed.