More than 40% of the plastics in use today are only used once before being discarded. Most single-use plastics are convenience items and consumer packaging, such as bags, straws, stirrers, tableware, carryout containers, and foam cups. Plastics don’t biodegrade once they enter the environment—instead they break down into tiny pieces, which are frequently mistaken for food and ingested by fish and other aquatic wildlife. Research shows that plastic pollution in our waterways adversely affect more than 260 different marine species.
The good news is that many single-use plastic items are unnecessary in our lives. Fortunately, there are cost effective, reusable alternatives that are readily available to consumers. These include reusable bags, reusable straws and tableware, reusable coffee mugs, and recyclable carryout containers.
CCE works to educate the public to reduce single-use plastic pollution, and advocates at the local, state and federal level for policies to address plastic pollution. CCE successfully advocated for a federal ban on plastic microbeads in personal care products, and is working to advance policies at the local and state level to reduce disposable bag pollution .
Pharmaceutical drug contamination in our groundwater, rivers, lakes, and bays is an emerging issue throughout the nation. Flushing unwanted or unused medication is still a common disposal practice, despite the fact that sewage treatment plants, septic systems, and drinking water infrastructure were never designed to remove these contaminants.
National studies have found trace amounts of pharmaceutical drugs in drinking water supplies of 41 million Americans. A study conducted by the USGS found low levels of drugs such as antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80% of the rivers and streams tested.
CCE works at the local, state and federal level to provide greater public access to safe pharmaceutical disposal options.
West Valley Nuclear Waste Site
The West Valley Nucelar Waste Site is in the Town of Ashford about 30 miles south of Buffalo. It was operated by a company called Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) as a nuclear fuel reprocessing center from 1966 to 1972.
During the operation of the plant, 640 metric tons of spent reactor fuel was processed, resulting in 660,000 gallons of highly radioactive liquid waste.
While NFS only reprocessed nuclear fuel at the site for six years, it left a legacy of toxic contamination that we have to contend with far into the future. At least 250 acres of the 3,345-acre site are heavily contaminated with dangerous nuclear and hazardous wastes, many of which will be radioactive for tens of thousands of years, and some for millions of years.
The site is in the Great Lakes watershed, and leaks of waste threaten drinking water, public health, wildlife, and billion dollar industries such as fishing and tourism. The safest and most cost-effective option in the long run is to excavate and clean up the entire site as soon as possible!
CCE continues to advocate for a full cleanup of West Valley nuclear waste site.
Hazardous Waste Landfill
Just a mile from the Lewiston-Porter Central Schools, two miles from the Niagara River and three miles to Lake Ontario, sits New York's only active hazardous waste landfill, the Chemical Waste Management (CWM) facility in the Town of Porter, NY.
For 40 years, the residents of Niagara County and the nearby Great Lakes have been unduly burdened with this hazardous waste landfill, and now CWM is proposing to build another landfill adjacent to the existing landfill. The proposed new hazardous waste landfill, known as Residual Management Unit - Two (RMU-2), would bring more than four million tons of hazardous waste for decades to come.
CCE strongly opposes RMU-2 because there is a great deal of uncertainty about the long-term containment of hazardous waste in a landfill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes that all landfills will likely eventually leak. Hazardous waste leaks poses a threat to the environment, due to the close proximity to the Great Lakes, which contain 20% of the world’s fresh water and provide drinking water to more than 40 million people. Scientists recognize the Great Lakes are already on the tipping point of ecological collapse, and further chemical contamination is extremely detrimental to the ecosystem. CWM has also been charged for direct illegal discharges in to the Niagara River.
Peer reviewed science continues to uncover the links between pesticide exposure and serious human health problems. Fetuses, infants and children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to these risks.
Pesticides also pose significant threats to the health of our environment and wildlife. CCE works at the local, state and federal level to promote policies and actions to reduce or eliminate the use of dangerous pesticides, while supporting safer, non-toxic, organic solutions for pest management.
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