James Salzman / Rivers no longer burn, but much work remains - Press of Atlantic City: Commentary

James Salzman / Rivers no longer burn, but much work remains

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Posted: Saturday, December 15, 2012 12:01 am

A river catches fire, so polluted that its waters have "no visible life, not even low forms such as leeches and sludge worms." This could describe the mythological River Styx from Hades. Residents of Cleveland, though, may recognize the government's assessment of their own Cuyahoga River in 1969. While it is hard to imagine today, discharging raw sewage and pollution into our harbors and rivers was common practice for most of the nation's history, with devastating results. By the late 1960s, Lake Erie had become so polluted that Time magazine described it as dead. Bacteria levels in the Hudson River were 170 times above the safe limit.

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