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Polluter Privilege

Wednesday, September 1, 1999

Polluter Privilege

Companies Pollute Ohio Tap Water, Citizens Pay for Cleanup

View and Download the report here: Polluter Privilege

Across Ohio, small and large businesses have polluted public drinking water supplies with impunity. An Environmental Working Group analysis of Ohio EPA data and an internal, unpublished report from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) shows that industries have contaminated at least 54 public water supplies, but have been held responsible for contributing toward cleanup in only three cases.

The 54 water systems are priority cases under the state’s hazardous waste remediation program. More than 280 Ohio communities have detected industrial contaminants in their tap water since 1994, according to monitoring data from the state (Appendix A). For most of these drinking water systems, there is no information available to the public on what, if anything, OEPA has done to identify polluters, or clean up the water.

The cost of cleaning up tapwater polluted with industrial chemicals can be substan- tial. The City of Dayton has spent millions of dollars to treat its tap water supply, stripping industrial contaminants from as many as five industries in 13 treatment units called air stripping towers. Middletown in Butler County has spent over $1 mil- lion to clean up tap water contaminated by a facility that manufactures printing equipment. The City of Wooster in Wayne County has spent $1.3 million to test and treat its water supply, with the polluters contributing nothing.

Compared with their negligence in cleaning up community water supplies, many Ohio companies are much more willing to clean up tap water when their employees and management have to drink it. Businesses have taken action on their private water supplies in 85 percent of the cases for which we have information. In contrast, companies are monitoring or working to clean up their contamination of public water supplies, just six percent of the time.

View and Download the report here: Polluter Privilege

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