Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 28, 2017

Contact: Hannah Connor, (202) 681-1676,

Lawsuit Demands Public Records on Approval of Toxic Heavy Metal Pollution of Water

EPA Decision Ignores Dangers of Cadmium to Endangered Species

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration today to obtain public records on the approval of nationwide water-quality criteria for the dangerous heavy metal cadmium that are nearly 40 percent higher than determined to be safe for endangered salmon.

Cadmium, which is used in the manufacturing of batteries, plastics and electronics, is extremely toxic to people and wildlife and regulated under the Clean Water Act. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency finalized water-quality criteria for the toxic heavy metal without first working with the National Marine Fisheries Service to assess its harm to endangered species.

Today's lawsuit seeks to require the EPA to release public records in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

“The public has a right to know what the EPA is hiding in ignoring the advice of scientists and setting dangerously high levels for cadmium in our water,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center. “The EPA's refusal to properly regulate toxic metals like cadmium is a major reason why freshwater animals like mussels and fish are some of our fastest-declining species.” 

The EPA's failure to work with fisheries experts to assess the dangerous impacts of cadmium puts more than 200 species of endangered fish, mussels, sea turtles and corals at increased risk of extinction.

Federal fisheries experts have criticized the EPA's outdated 30-year-old guidelines for assessing ecological impacts. The agency has refused to release pubic documents explaining its decisions.

“The EPA is again refusing to disclose public documents to conceal its efforts to do the bidding of special interests,” said Connor. “Heavy metals known to be dangerous to humans and aquatic life have no business in our waterways at such high levels.”

Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Trump EPA has been widely criticized and repeatedly sued for refusing the timely release of documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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