Combat Pollution: The 1899 Refuse Act

Hy Mayerson sends MOTHER EARTH NEWS a copy of a letter from the Chairman of the Congress Subcommittee encouraging readers to combat pollution using citizen action to enforce the 1899 Refuse Act for cleaner water.

| November/December 1970

  • 006-010-01a
    TO: Citizens interested in preventing pollution and enhancing the quality of this Nation's waters through citizen action aiding enforcement of the 1899 Refuse Act.

  • 006-010-01a

Hy Mayerson
SUITE 1930
Two Penn Center Plaza
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102

P.O. Box 38
Madison, Ohio 44057


I am enclosing a copy of a letter sent out by the Chairman of the Congress Subcommittee. This should be effective to combat pollution. The problem is that not enough people know about it. The Government has proceeded several times under this statute and has enforced it and it has been ruled constitutional. 

Ralph Nader recently appeared on the Dick Cavett show and urged the public to take advantage of this statute and seek its enforcement. 

The most interesting part about this statute is that the fines, which are quite severe, are payable one half to the person who reports it. 

It would be my suggestion that somebody that is interested in combating pollution, especially if that somebody is a freak and could use the money, might if they live near a large city rent a row boat and row down the river, with a polaroid camera and several empty bottles. They can then take pictures of themselves with a bottle being filled from a waste pipe disposal system. They should then advise the company by certified mail that they are in violation of this statute, that this pollution should cease immediately and that they are notifying the United States Attorney of this. From that point on, they should follow the other instructions given in the accompanying letter. 

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