QCA rivers top national list of most polluted

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Two rivers in the Quad City area are on the top ten list of most polluted rivers in the U.S.

The Mississippi is number two in toxic discharge, while the Rock River is number 10, according to advocacy group, Environment America.

It's a quiet, peaceful day along the Rock River in Moline.

"I'm fishing for Walleye right now, and I haven't had a bite yet," said Buddy Cullen, who comes out here to the river twice a week. "We go after the big flat heads that are out here."

He doesn't eat them.

"They're not probably the healthiest fish to eat," said Cullen. "All the big factories dumping stuff in the river and people dumping trash."

According to Environment America's report released on March 22, the Rock River contained the 10th highest amount of toxic discharge in the country in 2010.

The Mississippi River came in 2nd place.

The latter doesn't surprise Cullen.

But, to know that the Rock is so dirty, does shock him.

"There's a lot of sportsmen out here that enjoy fishing and some people do eat the fish out of the river, catch diseases and stuff like that," he said.

One of the biggest polluters, according the report, is the Tyson food plant in Joslin, IL.

In a statement released to News 8, Tyson Spokesman, Gary Mickelson says:
"Our plants comply with the clean water act and state-issued, federally authorized permits that regulate their waste water treatment systems. They return treated water into streams and rivers only after it has been fully treated in accordance with the requirements of those permits."

Besides industrial pollutants, Cullen says there are other types of foreign objects that he thinks are dirtying up the river.
"Last year, there was a Harley Davidson up here in the water, there's some steel thing that's sitting in the water out there."

The report estimates there are about 3.3 million pounds of toxic chemicals in the Rock River and 12.7 million pounds in the Mississippi River.

Also, the report cites nitrates as the most common source of industrial pollutants.

Nitrates can cause organ damage in adults and what's referred to as "Baby Blue Syndrome"- a disease that limits the ability of infant's blood to carry oxygen.