Home » General Interest » Preventing a Modern Day Cuyahoga: Missouri Should Apply the “Fishable/Swimmable” Water Quality Standard to All Unclassified Waters By Ted Weiss

Preventing a Modern Day Cuyahoga: Missouri Should Apply the “Fishable/Swimmable” Water Quality Standard to All Unclassified Waters By Ted Weiss

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In June of 1969, a disturbing event occurred: the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland, Ohio caught fire, burning for more than two hours.1 As the story goes, flammable debris from a nearby steel mill was discharged directly into the river and pooled underneath a railroad truss bridge.2 A spark from a passing rail car ignited the material, setting the river ablaze with flames reaching up to five stories high.3 The Cuyahoga, like many of the nation’s navigable waterways at that time, had long been neglected.4 Industrial facilities and open sewers lining the river’s banks regularly discharged their untreated wastewater directly into river.5 Debris consisting of anything from tires to picnic benches clogged its waters.6 Oil slicks up to two inches thick, spanning the entire width of the river, were not unheard of.7 Through much of the early 20th century, the Cuyahoga was devoid of life, lacking the oxygen content necessary to support fish and many other aquatic species.8 Indeed, the Cuyahoga became so contaminated that it was widely thought of as one of the most polluted rivers in the country.9

The 1969 fire was not the first or even the most intense fire on the Cuyahoga,10 but it had a national … Read the full text …

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