Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Desperate Puerto Ricans Are Drinking Water From Hazardous Waste Sites

Climate
Desperate for water, Puerto Ricans are resorting to any available sources, such as this stream in Cayey. Angel Valentin / NPR

The ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee called for an investigation into the availability of potable water in Puerto Rico following reports Friday that residents are scrounging for water from hazardous waste sites.

After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed residents were trying to access water from three Superfund sites, and following a CNN story Friday featuring Puerto Ricans taking water from a fourth site, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote a letter to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke asking if she knew about the situation and calling the reports "beyond disturbing."


Food, water, electricity and medical care is still scarce three weeks after Hurricane Maria blew through the island, and more than one-third of residents do not have a safe, available source of drinking water. While 85 percent of the island still remains without electricity, Governor Ricardo Rosselló said Sunday he hopes that power will be almost totally restored by mid-December.

As reported by The Verge:

"The Environmental Protection Agency received reports that people were trying to access water at toxic Superfund sites, according to a news release issued on Wednesday. These sites are at Caguas, San German, and Dorado, an agency spokesperson clarified in an email. The EPA advised people against tampering with or drinking from sealed and locked wells. But without access to safe water, people are forced to make the terrible choice of drinking from a risky source, or nothing at all.

The agency investigated the three sites that were reported, plus two additional ones in Cabo Rojo and Maunabo, an EPA spokesperson said. Although they're scattered across the island, all are groundwater sources contaminated with industrial solvents used for metal degreasing and dry cleaning. Exposure to these solvents can have dangerous health effects, such as harming the liver and increasing cancer risk. But, dehydration is dangerous too."

For a deeper dive:

DHS letter: CNN, The Hill. Water scarcity: CNN, NPR. EPA: The Verge. Aid efforts: LA Times, InsideClimate News. Electricity: CNN, New York Daily News. Commentary: Washington Post, Jennifer Sciubba and Jeremy Youde analysis

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.


EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Two rare Malayan tiger cubs born at the Bronx Zoo in January 2016, Nadia and Azul made their public debut in September 2016. Nadia has now tested positive for the new coronavirus, and Azul has shown symptoms.

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo is believed to be the first animal in the U.S. and the first tiger in the world to test positive for the new coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Derrick Jackson

By Derrick Z. Jackson

As much as hurricanes Katrina and Maria upended African American and Latinx families, the landfall of the coronavirus brings a gale of another order. This Category 5 of infectious disease packs the power to level communities already battered from environmental, economic, and health injustice. If response and relief efforts fail to adequately factor in existing disparities, the current pandemic threatens a knockout punch to the American Dream.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable meeting with energy sector CEOs in the Cabinet Room of the White House April 3 in Washington, DC. Doug Mills-Pool / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

A coalition of climate organizations strongly criticized President Donald Trump's in-person Friday meeting with the chief executives of some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world, saying the industry that fueled climate disaster must not be allowed to profiteer from government giveaways by getting bailout funds or preferred treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

An Important Note

No supplement, diet, or lifestyle modification — aside from social distancing and practicing proper hygiene ⁠— can protect you from developing COVID-19.

The strategies outlined below may boost your immune health, but they don't protect specifically against COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Zak Smith

It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:

Read More Show Less