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California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Contact Information
Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director: 209-464-5067, Cell 209-938-9053, deltakeep@aol.com
Richard McHenry, CSPA Compliance Director: 916-851-1500, cell, 916-801-1952, rmchenry1403@aol.com

Regional Water Board Fails to Regulate Toxic Plastic Chemicals


Ignores threats to the environment and human health


Stockton, CA - Tuesday 23 February 2010.  Today, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) issued a report analyzing the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's (Regional Board) failure to adequately regulate a group of toxic chemicals routinely found in discharges from wastewater treatment facilities.  Phthalates are used to keep plastics flexible and are ubiquitous in the environment.  They have been found in the urinary samples of approximately 75% of the population.  Recently, U.S. EPA took the unusual step of issuing an action alert for these chemicals because of their toxicity and the pervasive human and environmental exposure to them.

The CSPA report analyzed 66 recently issued waste discharge permits for one of the most common phthalates - bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate - and found that: 1) the Regional Board failed to implement protective limits in 31% of the permits where the chemical posed a threat to exceed a water quality standard and 2) failed to require dischargers to conduct legally mandated sampling before a permit was issued 40% of the time.  Only 9% of the issued permits had proper pollutant characterization and numeric effluent limitations.  When the Regional Board did put limits in permits, they were considerably weaker than recent more restrictive standards, now recommended by U.S. EPA to protect the environment and human health.

“This is yet another example of the Regional Board placing the pocketbooks of wastewater dischargers above the law and concern for the environment and human health,” said CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings.  “Since Governor Schwarzenegger took office, we have seen a major retreat on water quality protection.  The new Chairperson of the Regional Board is an attorney representing dischargers and is married to a major lobbyist for wastewater dischargers,” Jennings added.

For example, the wastewater permits issued to Tracy, Turlock, Yuba City, Davis, Lodi, Manteca, Red Bluff, Nevada City and El Dorado Irrigation District did not contain an effluent limit even though sampling revealed bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate in the discharge at levels requiring a permit limit.  The Regional Board gave Stockton (5.5 ug/l in the effluent) and Mountain House (7.4 ug/l in the effluent) discharge limits of 1.8 ug/l even though the EPA recommends a limit of 1.2 ug/l.  Inexplicably, the City of San Andreas (55 ug/l in the effluent), which discharges to an ephemeral stream, was given a permit limit of 95 ug/l, as a daily maximum, and 34 ug/l, as a monthly average (or 79 and 28 times the EPA limit).

We've been urging the Regional Board to take phthalate pollution seriously in comments over the last several years to no avail,” said Richard McHenry, CSPA's Director of Compliance and a former Regional Board supervisor overseeing issuance of wastewater permits.  New data, EPA's recent action plan and the new recommended effluent limits that significantly lower the amount that can be safely be discharged only emphasizes the damage the chemicals can do to people and the environment.  Its time for the Regional Board to take this threat seriously,” he said.

The CSPA report and U.S. EPA Action Plan are attached.
CSPA is a public benefit conservation and research organization established in 1983 for the purpose of conserving, restoring, and enhancing the state's water quality and fishery resources and their aquatic ecosystems and associated riparian habitats.  CSPA's website is www.calsport.org.