New Greenpeace Report shines spotlight on the Hidden Costs of Toxic Water Pollution

Press release - 25 May, 2011
Greenpeace today published ‘Hidden Consequences’, a report that shines a spotlight on the polluted conditions of four iconic rivers, located in the ‘Global South’ (1): the Yangtze, the Chao Phraya, the Marilao and the Neva. The report calls for urgent action to protect the livelihoods of the people and wildlife that depend on these waterways, and the life-sustaining resources they provide, by demanding that policy makers commit to a Toxic-Free Future.

‘Hidden Consequences’ also draws attention to the financial, social and environmental costs of industrial water pollution, showcasing the problems of long-term contamination from hazardous chemicals across several locations in the ‘Global North’ (2), including the Hudson River, the Dutch Delta, the Laborec River and the ‘Swiss Toxic Dumps’ (3).

“In the Global North, water pollution from hazardous chemicals has created a legacy of problems and immense technical, economic and political difficulties for those left with the responsibility of cleaning up”, said Martin Hojsik, Greenpeace International Toxic Water Campaign Coordinator. “Governments and businesses throughout Asia and the wider Global South can still avoid making the same costly mistakes that were made in the Global North, by committing to a ‘Toxic-Free Future’ – through supporting truly sustainable innovation, and by progressively eliminating the use and releases of hazardous substances by industry into water sources”.

The Chao Phraya, the Neva, the Marilao and the Yangtze rivers supply drinking, domestic and agriculture water to the populations of large rural areas, as well as to the inhabitants of big cities such as Shanghai, Bangkok and St.Petersburg. Although often invisible to the human eye, the persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances found in these rivers – and many others – are extremely harmful to human health and are almost impossible to remove.

“The impacts of water pollution on human health, the environment and local economies are rarely considered or compensated”, continued Hojsik “Not just because they are hard to calculate, but because of the difficulty in tracking down the polluters and holding them responsible for cost of cleaning up the pollution. Instead, it is the taxpayer who too often ends up paying the bill”.

Greenpeace is calling on governments and corporations to commit to a Toxic-Free Future, by taking urgent, precautionary and transparent action to eliminate the use and releases of all hazardous substances.



Download Hidden Consequences and related materials

or check the Hidden Consequences Digital Magazine

Contacts:

Martin Hojsik, Toxic Water Campaign Coordinator, Greenpeace International, +421 905 313 395

Tommy Crawford, Communications Manager, Greenpeace International, +31 62 700 00 60

Greenpeace International 24-hour press desk on +31 20 718 2470

Those images featured in the report, as well as a series of specially commissioned photographs to celebrate the launch of the report, are available. Please contact:

Greenpeace International Picture Desk, +31 62 900 11 52

For the background images ayou can also visit

http://photo.greenpeace.org/GPI/C.aspx?VP3=ViewBox_VPage&ALID=27MZIFII8EFK&CT=Album

Notes to the Editor:

1) The term ‘Global South’ is used to describe developing and emerging countries, including those facing the challenges of often rapid industrial development or industrial restructuring; such as Russia. Most of the Global South is located in South and Central America, Asia and Africa. Within this report this term refers specifically to case studies located within a group of countries including: China, Thailand, The Philippines and Russia.

2) The term ‘Global North’ is used for developed countries, predominantly located in North America and Europe with high human development; according to the United Nations Human Development Index. Most, but not all, of these countries are located in the Northern Hemisphere. Within this report this term refers specifically to case studies located within a group of countries including: The United State of America, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Slovakia.

3) See Hidden Consequences Report, page 30.

‘Hidden Consequences’ also draws attention to the financial, social and environmental costs of industrial water pollution, showcasing the problems of long-term contamination from hazardous chemicals across several locations in the ‘Global North’ (2), including the Hudson River, the Dutch Delta, the Laborec River and the ‘Swiss Toxic Dumps’ (3).

“In the Global North, water pollution from hazardous chemicals has created a legacy of problems and immense technical, economic and political difficulties for those left with the responsibility of cleaning up”, said Martin Hojsik, Greenpeace International Toxic Water Campaign Coordinator. “Governments and businesses throughout Asia and the wider Global South can still avoid making the same costly mistakes that were made in the Global North, by committing to a ‘Toxic-Free Future’ – through supporting truly sustainable innovation, and by progressively eliminating the use and releases of hazardous substances by industry into water sources”.

The Chao Phraya, the Neva, the Marilao and the Yangtze rivers supply drinking, domestic and agriculture water to the populations of large rural areas, as well as to the inhabitants of big cities such as Shanghai, Bangkok and St.Petersburg. Although often invisible to the human eye, the persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances found in these rivers – and many others – are extremely harmful to human health and are almost impossible to remove.

“The impacts of water pollution on human health, the environment and local economies are rarely considered or compensated”, continued Hojsik “Not just because they are hard to calculate, but because of the difficulty in tracking down the polluters and holding them responsible for cost of cleaning up the pollution. Instead, it is the taxpayer who too often ends up paying the bill”.

Greenpeace is calling on governments and corporations to commit to a Toxic-Free Future, by taking urgent, precautionary and transparent action to eliminate the use and releases of all hazardous substances.

ENDS

Download Hidden Consequences and related materials:

Hidden Consequences Report (Full text and Executive Summary): http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/reports/Hidden-Consequences/

Hidden Consequences Digital Magazine: www.greenpeace.org/hidden

Contacts:

Martin Hojsik, Toxic Water Campaign Coordinator, Greenpeace International, +421 905 313 395

Tommy Crawford, Communications Manager, Greenpeace International, +31 62 700 00 60

Greenpeace International 24-hour press desk on +31 20 718 2470

Those images featured in the report, as well as a series of specially commissioned photographs to celebrate the launch of the report, are available. Please contact:

Greenpeace International Picture Desk, +31 62 900 11 52

For the background images ayou can also visit

http://photo.greenpeace.org/GPI/C.aspx?VP3=ViewBox_VPage&ALID=27MZIFII8EFK&CT=Album

Notes to the Editor:

1) The term ‘Global South’ is used to describe developing and emerging countries, including those facing the challenges of often rapid industrial development or industrial restructuring; such as Russia. Most of the Global South is located in South and Central America, Asia and Africa. Within this report this term refers specifically to case studies located within a group of countries including: China, Thailand, The Philippines and Russia.

2) The term ‘Global North’ is used for developed countries, predominantly located in North America and Europe with high human development; according to the United Nations Human Development Index. Most, but not all, of these countries are located in the Northern Hemisphere. Within this report this term refers specifically to case studies located within a group of countries including: The United State of America, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Slovakia.

3) See Hidden Consequences Report, page 30.

About Greenpeace:

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. It comprises 28 independent national/regional offices in over 40 countries. To maintain its independence, Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments or corporations but relies on contributions from individual supporters and foundation grants.

www.greenpeace.org/water

Categories