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article imageDeath of dolphin in NY river highlights bigger issue — Pollution

By Karen Graham     Mar 27, 2017 in Environment
Mount Vernon - A dead dolphin was pulled out of the polluted Hutchinson River in Mount Vernon, New York on Friday afternoon. While it may not be surprising to find a dead animal in a polluted river, it should make people question why the river is still polluted.
The Mount Vernon Daily Voice is reporting the dead dolphin was found near the Mount Vernon/Pelham border near Glover Field on Friday. The dolphin likely swam up the river from Long Island Sound, experts are saying.
The state Department of Environment Conservation was called to the scene and collected the animal for a necropsy to find out what caused its death. Some people are blaming the natural tidal levels. Pelham resident Brian Bober says the river can get really low.
“You can see from the river here that it gets really low,” Bober tells CBS2’s Brian Conybeare. “At high tide, it’s four, five, even six feet higher, so he may have swam upstream and when the tide went out he just got stuck.”
And while Mr. Bober may be right, the dolphin's death has served as a stark reminder of the ongoing pollution problem in the Hutchinson River, and more importantly, the failure of the six municipalities along the river to take corrective action in complying with a federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) order issued in 2003 to repair aging sewage systems that allowed raw sewage to flow into the river, according to CTV News.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas has been advocating for the repair and replacement of the city's aging sewage system ever since he first joined City Council. He said the dolphin's death "serves as a somber reminder of the dangerous effects pollution can have on sea life."
"While the exact cause of the dolphin’s death has yet to be determined, the Hutchinson River plays a unique role in the New York metropolitan area’s ecosystem and deserves to be treated with respect and care," he added.
The mayor cited the EPA order 14 years ago, demanding the city repair its sewage system to stop the discharge of raw sewage into the river, but while the mayor has a plan, City Council has not approved it. "Fines could be in the amount of millions of dollars a week and it could really bankrupt Mount Vernon if we don’t clean this up,” Mayor Thomas said.
The EPA has allowed raw sewage to flow into the river for 14 years, raising the simple question - Why was this allowed to happen? If a federal agency knows a crime, and yes, it is a crime, is being committed, why haven't they done anything to stop it? This agency is supposed to be protecting the health and well-being of the environment and the health and safety of the citizens living in that environment.
Now, with President Trump scheduled to remove the Clean Water Act by executive order on Tuesday, it will be up to the individual residents of the six communities along the Hutchinson River to see that it gets cleaned up all by themselves.
More about dolphin death, Pollution, hutchinson river, New york, Raw sewage
 
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