According to a new report released on March 29, 2018, by Environment Florida Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group, Florida industrial facilities were responsible for exceeding pollution limits in bodies of water at least 270 times from January 2016 through September 2017. Such facilities often did not face penalty for these excessive discharges.
The new report, “Troubled Waters: Industrial Pollution Still Threatens American Waterways,” encompasses the entirety of the United States, listing the top ten perpetrators of industrial water pollution in each state. Despite Florida having the most major industrial facilities of any state, Texas ranked as the most egregious offender with 938 cited incidents of excessive water pollution.
Of the ten worst offenders listed for the state of Florida, three were found to be discharging waste into the St. Johns River, though the body of water is not thought to be compromised. Shannon Blankinship, advocacy director for the St. Johns Riverkeeper, does not expect such discharges to stop any time soon.
“We’re not seeing that there are penalties for those discharges and so there’s not really any reason to expect that these discharges are going to stop in the near future,” Blankinship said. “It’s been over 40 years and we still haven’t really put the focus on eliminating pollution discharges into our own waterways as something that we feel can be achievable… it just has to be important to the people helping make some of those decisions.”
Another glaring inclusion within the report outlines the lack of consequences facing industrial facilities exceeding legal pollutions. Specifically, from 2011 to 2017, an average of 27,849 facilities were not compliant with Clean Water Act standards, while only an average of 13,076 facilities were met with state or federal action.
Median financial penalties for facilities exceeding limits have also dropped drastically under President Trump’s administration with a current median of $20,250 in penalties compared to a median of $45,500 in 2014.