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Report finds high rates of toxins released in Oswego watershed

Bridge across the harbor in Oswego, NY.
Dirk Ingo Franke
Wikimedia Commons
Bridge across the harbor in Oswego, NY.

A new environmental nonprofit's report released Wednesday named the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Baldwinsville as a top contributor of toxic waste into local waterways.

Environment America, a nonprofit that surveys watersheds nationwide, reports that the facility released the highest amount of toxic emissions statewide into the Oswego watershed, which serves large parts of Central New York and the Southern Tier.

“The Anheuser-Busch Facility near Baldwinsville, had significant releases into the Oswego river watershed, over 1.1 million pounds,” the report said.

Environment America issued the report based on data collected for all watersheds in the U.S. over a 15-year span through self-reporting and EPA findings.

David Masur, an advocate for Environment America, said while nitrate dumping is not illegal, it can have serious health and environmental consequences.

They can cause spontaneous abortions, birth defects one potential effect of nitrate exposure is that it leads to blood oxygen deprivation, which is often called blue baby syndrome," Masur said.

Masur said continuous action and enforcement are necessary, not only by facilities but also on the state and federal levels. Especially as the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act nears this October.

“I think certainly in the last 50 years of our federal Clean Water Act, we've undoubtedly made significant headway to reduce emissions into our rivers, lakes, and streams," he said.

While Masur hopes more regulations for dumping waste will be passed at the federal and state levels, he said that states like New York are in a better spot today than 50 years ago.

For it's part, Anheuser-Busch officials say in a statement that there appears to be a misconception about how the plant discharges wastewater.

"Anheuser-Busch’s Baldwinsville brewery maintains its own water treatment center and discharges treatment water directly. Public treatment plants are not required to report the discharge of nitrates. Nitrates are the intended outcome of effective treatment operations and industrial treatment plant discharges, like Anheuser-Busch’s, are dwarfed by public treatment plants.

"Due to these reporting processes, this leads to Anheuser-Busch’s discharge appearing higher than others that funnel their water through a municipal treatment center. The brewery’s wastewater discharge is within all state and federal discharge limits, and Anheuser-Busch continues to be committed to being a good steward of the environment."