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Sunday, September 13, 2009 - 12:20pm

NYT: Clean Water Laws Often Ignored At Cost to Health

One in ten Americans have been exposed to drinking water that contains dangerous chemicals or has failed to meet federal health benchmarks.

That’s according to research compiled by the New York Times. The newspaper gathered water pollution data from across the country, and found that violations of the federal Clean Water Act are largely unenforced.

Based on information the New York Times received from the Environmental Protection Agency, about a thousand facilities in Georgia are regulated. They range from gas stations, to chemical companies to coal plants. According to the report, from the years 2004 to 2007 (the last year with complete data), about 70 of those facilities violated the Clean Water Act. More than half of the violations went unenforced.

The report includes an interactive map showing violations by companies, but it doesn't show what the violations were for or if they were enforced. But it does indicate whether fines were issued.

The EPA points out: the NYT study doesn’t distinguish between major violations like cancer-causing chemicals in drinking water and minor ones like failing to file paperwork.

At least one company, Oil Dri Corporation of America is challenging the New York Times interactive map provided with the article on-line. It is calling it "plainly and simply false information." Its lawyer is asking the New York Times to immediately remove the interactive map from its website until "the data can be corrected or otherwise verified."

The entire report is here.