Report: Kodak helped make N.Y.'s waterways among most toxic

By THOMAS ADAMS - 6/20/2014 3:57:42 PM

Eastman Kodak Co. discharged 12,251 pounds of toxic pollutants into the lower Genesee River in 2012--the most among industrial facilities in the state based on toxicity concentrations--helping to make New York’s waterways the 15th most-polluted in the country, representatives of Environment New York say.

Responding to the report, a Kodak spokesman said the company's discharges are strictly regulated by New York as part of a national water discharge permit system.

The report by Environment New York’s research and policy center contends the state's industries discharged 5.3 million pounds of toxic chemicals into state waterways in 2012.

“New York’s waterways should be clean, for swimming, drinking and supporting wildlife,” ENY director Heather Leibowitz said in a statement released Thursday night. “But too often, our waters have become a dumping ground for polluters. The first step to curb this tide of toxic pollution is to restore Clean Water Act protections to all our waterways.”

The federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have proposed amendments to the Clean Water Act to expand the definition of waters that would be under federal regulatory oversight. The public comment period for the amendments expires Oct. 20.

Kodak discharged 922,014 pounds of nitrate compounds into the Genesee, 6,476 pounds of ammonia and 3,050 pounds of barium and its compounds, the report says. The report is based on data reported by polluting facilities to the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2012, the most recent year available, ENY representatives said.

Christopher Veronda, manager of corporate communications for Kodak, defended the company's performance.

"Kodak's discharges flow through a wastewater treatment plant and are under strict regulation by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as part of a state permit that sets dozens of parameters that must be monitored on a daily basis," he said."This discharge permit is administered by the DEC as part of a federal (EPA) national water discharge permit system, and limits are set to provide a high level of protection for human health and the environment.

"Most treatment plants have occasional exceedances of their discharge permit," he added, "but the (Eastman Business Park) plant did not have a single one in 2012. It was recognized for its performance with a Gold Award by the New York State Water Environment Association."

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