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Health care facilities should be applauded

As it appeared in the The Daily Star – Letters to the editor: February 13, 2010

Your Feb. 2 article “Drug dumping charges threaten loans” reported demands made by state and local politicians that orders against certain Delaware County health care facilities be nullified. These suggestions overlook the cooperative and commendable efforts of those facilities that reached agreements with the state.

Those facilities that signed consent agreements with the state should be applauded for striving to be national leaders in the effort to curb the release of harmful pharmaceuticals into drinking water. Rather than engage in protracted litigation, these facilities sought to partner with the state and craft an agreement to address this problem. They should be commended for this.

Pharmaceutical discharges into public drinking water supplies are a growing, national problem. A 2008 Associated Press investigation found levels of pharmaceuticals in the drinking water of 46 million Americans. Further, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified pharmaceuticals as “contaminants of emerging concern.” The Catskill Watershed Corp., in conjunction with the involved state agencies, has already met to help these facilities comply with the novel resolution to this challenging issue.

Just as the 1997 Watershed Memorandum of Agreement is now hailed as an international model on how to protect a livable water supply, these health care facilities should be hailed for trying to establish a national model on how to protect drinking water from pharmaceuticals.

While many MOA parties may differ on the manner this issue was handled, Riverkeeper commends the tough leadership these facilities demonstrated.

James L. Simpson
White Plains

Simpson is a staff attorney for Riverkeeper Inc.

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