4 Contra Costa Plants Long Overdue
OAKLAND -- Half of major industrial water polluters in California are operating with expired pollution permits, according to state and federal data analyzed by Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Friends of the Earth (FOE). Facilities operating under expired permits include most of the state's oil refineries and big power plants that are dumping toxic chemicals including dioxin, lead, mercury, cyanide, arsenic and PCBs.
Analysis of all U.S. Clean Water Act permits for major industrial facilities in California shows that 49 percent of the permits are expired as of June 2000 and 43 percent have been expired at least six months. (See table.) The full report is available online at http://www.ewg.org/reports/reportcard-ca.
"The offenders are not small, obscure operations whose paperwork slipped through the cracks, but some of the largest and state's dirtiest facilities," said Bill Walker, EWG’s California director. Tosco’s Wilmington refinery has been polluting under an expired permit for 27 months, Chevron's Richmond refinery for 34 months and PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant for 60 months.
Los Angeles County has 10 expired industrial permits, followed by Contra Costa County with four. Eleven of the facilities with expired permits are discharging directly into the Pacific Ocean. Seven are polluting bays or harbors and three are discharging into the state's rivers.
Nationwide, about 25 percent of major industrial and public facilities have expired water pollution permits, but many large industrial states have significantly rates of expired permits than California, including New York (four percent), Pennsylvania (11 percent) and Illinois (17 percent).
"Expired water pollution permits should be the rare exception, not the rule," said Larry Bohlen, FOE’s health director. "If an ordinary Californian is caught driving without a license, we throw the book at him. How can we let major polluters go for years without obeying with the law?"
See the list of expired water permits in California.