While California is in the midst of one of their worst droughts in their recorded history, a disturbing report has come from the Center for Biological Diversity.
According to the report, nearly 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater has been illegally dumped into central California’s aquifers that supply drinking water and water for agriculture.
The wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking fluids and other pollutants.
It gets worse.
The documents also reveal that Central Valley Water Board testing found high levels of arsenic, thallium and nitrates — contaminants sometimes found in oil industry wastewater — in water-supply wells near these waste-disposal operations.
The California Water Board confirmed the report in September. They are currently investigating the risk to drinking water in the region.
From the Center for Biological Diversity:
Thallium is an extremely toxic chemical commonly used in rat poison. Arsenic is a toxic chemical that can cause cancer. Some studies show that even low-level exposure to arsenic in drinking water can compromise the immune system’s ability to fight illness.
“Arsenic and thallium are extremely dangerous chemicals,” said Timothy Krantz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Redlands. “The fact that high concentrations are showing up in multiple water wells close to wastewater injection sites raises major concerns about the health and safety of nearby residents.”
The Center for biological Diversity also obtained a letter from the State Water Resources Control Board to the EPA. According to the letter,
“The Central Valley Regional Water Board has confirmed that injection wells have been dumping oil industry waste into aquifers that are legally protected under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The state Water Board also concedes that another 19 wells may also have contaminated protected aquifers, and dozens more have been injecting waste into aquifers of unknown quality.
The Central Valley Water Board tested eight water-supply wells out of more than 100 in the vicinity of these injection wells. Arsenic, nitrate and thallium exceeded the maximum contaminant level in half the water samples.”
Fracking has become a hot topic for those concerned about the environment. Unfortunately, the effects of the toxic wastewater will last long beyond any potential fix. Now, until the report is finalized, the people of central California have to sit and wait to see if the little water they do have is safe or not.
Read the full report here.