State officials along the Ohio River will now be left to decide whether companies can discharge mercury and other potentially harmful chemicals into the Ohio River in areas known as mixing zones.
Members of the board of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) made the decision Thursday morning at a board meeting in Buffalo, New York, to the dismay of many environmental groups.
“This decision is disappointing and fails to recognize that polluters have already had 12 years to reduce their mercury discharges,” a statement from the Environmental Law & Policy Center reads. “ORSANCO hasn’t done its job well on mercury pollution so Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania need to step up and do it better. The commission missed a crucial opportunity here to set a firm deadline for achieving safe levels of mercury in the Ohio River. Without such a deadline, it’s likely that polluters will just spend another 12 years twiddling their thumbs rather than taking concrete steps toward reducing mercury discharges.”