ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Environmental groups file suit against the EPA, demanding tougher limits on pollution in the Mississippi, which it blames for a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico has long been treated as the nation’s sewer,” said Matt Rota, Director of Science and Water Policy for the Gulf Restoration Network.
The suit seeks numeric limits on nitrogen and phosphorus in the river. The so-called “nutrient pollution” is blamed for a dead zone the “size of Massachusetts ” in the Gulf, where overabundant nutrients fuels algae growth that depletes oxygen from the water. The fishing industry has been impacted. The same dynamic is also blamed for ruining wetlands in the Gulf.
In a teleconference outlining the lawsuit, participants alleged that states up and down the river are to blame for rising pollution levels, but one state gets most of the blame, Illinois.
“Illinois is the largest source of both of the nitrogen and the phosphorus that causes the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Glynnis Collins with the Prairie Rives Network, “The industrial scale of corn and soybean production on our farmland is a major source of nutrient pollution, and secondly, Illinois is home to Chicago’s Water Reclamation District with seven large sewage treatment plants.”
If successful, the suit could force new restrictions for the sewage treatment and the farm fertilizer industries.