Past owners’ errors obscured impact of nitrates on river

Millions of pounds of nitrates were discharged into the Delaware River from the state’s lone oil refinery each year before 2006 and not reported to a federal inventory of toxic pollution releases until this year, according to new data.

The Delaware City Refinery released 2.7 million pounds of nitrates in 2006, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s new toxic release inventory. In 2005, the plant said it released only 234,230 pounds of nitrates.

The disparity is due to a reporting problem that likely went on for years. It came to light when Valero Inc. completed an analysis of toxic releases after it bought the plant in late 2005. The change means Delaware City would have ranked 16th in the nation in total nitrate releases in 2005, instead of 160th. There are almost 2,100 sites that report nitrate releases.

But environmentalists say the real loser is the Delaware River.

Full Story: