The New York Times reports that biodiesel producers are dumping vegetable oil byproducts into local streams and rivers, harming wildlife.The National Biodiesel Board claims that their members' industrial byproducts are "nontoxic, biodegradable and suitable for sensitive environments." Yes, well, Bruce P. Hollebone, researcher with Environment Canada, says the result is some bad shit for birds and fish. "As with most organic materials, oil and glycerin deplete the oxygen content of water very quickly, and that will suffocate fish and other organisms. And for birds, a vegetable oil spill is just as deadly as a crude oil spill.” The problem is, of course, money. "Glycerin, an alcohol that is normally nontoxic, can be sold for secondary uses, but it must be cleaned first, a process that is expensive and complicated. Expanded production of biodiesel has flooded the market with excess glycerin, making it less cost-effective to clean and sell." And more cost effective to dump in untreated form. The National Biodiesel Board dismissed a litany of violations as "growing pains" for an industry that's doubled in the last year (to 160 plants). Oh, that's OK then.
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