• They Grow the Nation’s Food, but They Can’t Drink the Water

    Water is a currency in California, and the low-income farmworkers who pick the Central Valley’s crops know it better than anyone. They labor in the region’s endless orchards, made possible by sophisticated irrigation systems, but at home their faucets spew toxic water tainted by arsenic and fertilizer chemicals.

    “Clean water flows toward power and money,” said Susana De Anda, a longtime water-rights organizer in the region. She is the daughter of lechugueros who worked in lettuce fields and helped make California one of the agricultural capitals of the world. “Homes, schools and clinics are supposed to be the safest places to go. But not in our world.”

    As she spoke, Ms. De Anda drove through several towns where tainted water is a fact of life, here in the state’s agricultural center. In the foreground, along State Route 201, were miles of lush orange groves and dairy farms. Spotted out the passenger window of her silver Toyota was Stone Corral Elementary in the town of Seville, where century-old pipes contaminate the tap water with soil and bacteria. The school depends on grant money to pay for bottled water for students.

    Today, more than 300 public water systems in California serve unsafe drinking water, according to public compliance data compiled by the California State Water Resources Control Board. It is a slow-motion public health crisis that leaves more than one million Californians exposed to unsafe water each year, according to public health officials.
    Sign Up for the Morning Briefing

    Get what you need to know to start your day, delivered to your inbox.

    Though water contamination is a problem up and down the state, the failing systems are most heavily concentrated in small towns and unincorporated communities in the Central and Salinas Valleys, the key centers of California agriculture. About half of all failing water systems are in the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, in the southern section of the broader Central Valley, said Ellen Hanak, the director of the Water Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California.

    Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a tax of about $140 million on urban water districts and the agriculture industry to pay for redevelopment in districts serving unsafe water. That money would come in addition to $168 million he has allocated toward water infrastructure improvements from a bond proposition passed last year.

    Some have bristled at the proposed tax, given already high tax rates in the state and a budget surplus of more than $21 billion. The Association of California Water Agencies — whose members provide an estimated 90 percent of water distributed in the state — has spoken out against the governor’s proposed solution, arguing it would affect the cost of living in already-expensive California.

    “There’s agreement with everyone involved in policy that there is a problem and it needs to be solved,” said Cindy Tuck, the group’s deputy executive director for government relations. But, “we think it doesn’t make sense to tax a resource that is essential.”

    State Senator Melissa Hurtado, a Democrat representing the Fresno area, whose district is severely affected by tainted water, said she would like to see more money allocated for infrastructure spending, but believes a tax on water is a nonstarter. Last week, the Democratic-controlled State Senate budget subcommittee voted against the governor’s proposed water tax, in favor of recommending funding from the state’s general fund. The Legislature is expected to work out the details as part of broader budget negotiations, which will come for a vote in June.
    Editors’ Picks
    ‘S.N.L.’ Premiere Meets Impeachment Head-On, but Not Shane Gillis
    The Gift of the Missing Men
    ‘S.N.L.’ Is Sorry: A Brief History of the Show’s (Sort Of) Apologies

    But the debate in Sacramento feels far away in East Orosi, a farmworker community of about 500 nestled along the foot of the Sierra Nevada that is surrounded by fields of oranges. There, residents complain of conditions that resemble the developing world, not the richest state in the nation. Fears of nitrate exposure in the tap water — which numerous studies have linked to an increased risk of infant death, and at high levels, an elevated risk of cancer in adults — compound other difficult realities like faraway grocery stores and doctors, grueling work conditions, and a lack of political clout.

    Veronica Corrales, the president of the East Orosi water board, wonders why more people are not outraged that, in 2019, people living in a state as wealthy as California lack such a fundamental necessity.

    “Everyone is saying ‘America First,’ but what about us?” she said.

    Many factors have led to the groundwater contamination reflected in the state’s data, but public health experts say the region’s agriculture industry has played an outsize role. Chemical fertilizers and dairy manure seep into the ground and cause nitrate contamination, like the kind plaguing East Orosi. Such contamination, which is common throughout the valley, takes years to materialize and even longer to clear up.

    Arsenic is naturally occurring in some areas but can become worse with exhaustive groundwater pumping, which has been a longstanding problem in the valley and accelerated during the drought between 2012 and 2016.

    It is exceedingly difficult to say with certainty whether any illness is directly tied to specific environmental factors, including contaminated water. But an article published last month in Environmental Health, an academic journal, estimated that 15,500 cases of cancer in California could occur within 70 years because of unsafe drinking water.

    For years, Martha Sanchez and her husband, Jose — who live in East Orosi and make their living filling crates with oranges or picking cherries — have received notices from the local water system that their taps are unsafe to drink from because of contamination. The family spends at least $60 a month for tap water they can’t use, Ms. Sanchez estimates, which is factored into the rent. To cook and wash dishes, Ms. Sanchez ladles bottled water into pots and pans from heavy blue jugs kept in the kitchen. She and her children shower using the water from the pipes, but she says it makes their skin itch.

    “Some people around here drink it,” Ms. Sanchez said. “Here at home, I don’t use it at all for cooking, not even for beans.”

    Ms. Sanchez’s family is given five free five-gallon jugs of water every two weeks, funded by a grant from the State Water Resources Control Board that was secured by Self-Help Enterprises, a community organization. But, Ms. Sanchez says, it is never enough to hold the family over, and they buy an additional four gallons.


    Her husband, who is a supervisor in the fields, pays for clean water out of pocket for the employees he manages, because the farm does not provide it. Sometimes he brings in about $80 for a full day of work.

    These problems are not new. The failing infrastructure at the heart of the potable water crisis in these communities is tinged with the legacy of rural redlining, said Camille Pannu, the director of the Aoki Water Justice Clinic at the University of California, Davis, who likened the situation in the valley to the one in Flint, Mich. “Flint is everywhere here,” she said.

    “The fact that more than a million Californians in 2019 have been left behind is really appalling,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency. “I’ll never forget talking to people in Imperial and Coachella Valley who are like, ‘You know what, it’s amazing when we go back to Mexico, the water is better.’”

    Mr. Blumenfeld said the “vast majority” of water systems with unsafe water are in small communities where there are too few customers to cover the cost of water treatment and maintenance. Laying even short distances of pipe can cost millions of dollars, which is sometimes feasible when costs are spread out among many people but not so for individual families, or when towns are especially remote.

    “I’ve never seen as many small drinking water systems in any other state. California is unique in that way,” Mr. Blumenfeld said.

    Many families who live in those areas use water from private wells because their homes are not connected to public water systems. The number of people exposed to dangerous water statewide could be even higher than the data shows: The state does not regulate private wells and does not monitor systems with fewer than 15 connections.

    One solution for expanding potable water access could be for larger systems to absorb smaller systems, which would allow them to spread infrastructure costs across more customers. In the San Joaquin Valley, nearly 80 percent of disadvantaged communities without potable water are less than one mile away from other communities with safe drinking water, according to a 2018 report by the U.C. Davis Center for Regional Change.

    But larger water systems are often wary of absorbing the smaller systems. In part, they do not want to absorb the costs that come with overhauling dilapidated infrastructure, said Ms. Hanak, the Water Policy Center director.


    Often, community members also worry that adding lower-income customers from neighboring communities will leave them to foot the bill. And the poorer customers worry they will have to pay rates they cannot afford.

    The East Orosi water district has teetered from one consolidation effort to another over the last decade, with little success. The state recently signaled that it would order nearby Orosi, which has clean water, to consolidate its system with East Orosi to expand clean-water access. Compelled by the state, the two communities have sought to negotiate a consolidation, but disagreements have left them at a stalemate.

    “Because Orosi has clean water, they don’t want to take on rate payers from East Orosi who they think are so poor they’ll skip out on their bills,” Ms. Pannu said. “Unfortunately, you have poor people versus poorer people.”

    E. Joaquin Esquivel, the chairman of the State Water Resources Control Board, said the gaps in potable water access were unacceptable, and promised that the state would continue using its consolidation authority to ease disparities. But he added that sustained funding for infrastructure and maintenance projects would be crucial for long-term solutions.

    Ms. Corrales, a nurse, stepped in as the president of the East Orosi water board several months ago. There was no one else who wanted the job, she said, and she was voted in at a community meeting almost without realizing it.

    Sometimes she is not sure whom she should be fighting: the state, the farm owners, the skeptics in Orosi. She just wants clean water.


    #eau #eau_potable #pollution #agriculture #industrie_agro-alimentaire #dépendance #technologie #Californie #USA #Etats-Unis #arsénic #fertilisants #contamination


    ping @sinehebdo

    https://seenthis.net/messages/804310 via CDB_77

  • A Tiny Island Used as a Nuclear Dumpsite Is About to Be Submerged by Water

    No reinforcements were made to the bottom and sides of the hole, meaning the waste directly interacts with the soil and a dumpsite for radioactive waste fails to meet standards for normal trash landfills, Gerrard said.

    The displaced people of Enewetak Atoll were finally allowed to return in 1980, despite the widespread contamination of their home. Traditional forms of fishing, farming, and gathering had to be abandoned because the wildlife became too contaminated, ABC Australia reports.

    And despite the ongoing threat posed by the non-reinforced radioactive dumpsite, no adjustments have been made to it, ABC notes. That’s because the radiation outside the dome exceeds the radiation inside of it, according to the US Department of Energy report, so the release of the waste wouldn’t make a major environmental difference.

    #nucléaire #contamination #déchets #peuples_autochtones

    https://seenthis.net/messages/648204 via odilon

  • Les autorités françaises s’apprêtent à fixer les critères de gestion des zones contaminées après un accident nucléaire.
    (source : Criirad)
    Elles ont retenu les niveaux de dose efficace les plus élevés possible : 100 mSv pour la phase accidentelle et 20 mSv/an pour la phase poste accidentelle (alors que pour le public, la limite maximale de dose est normalement de 1 mSv/an et que cette valeur correspond déjà à un niveau de risque élevé). Plus les limites sont élevées, moindre sont les dépenses liées à la protection et à l’indemnisation des dommages. Ce choix est malheureusement cohérent avec le plafonnement des indemnités pour les victimes d’un accident nucléaire majeur (...) ce sont ses victimes qui supporteront les conséquences sanitaires et économiques de la catastrophe.
    Si vous êtes choqué par l’image de ces enfants japonais qui portent autour du cou un dosimètre en guise de pendentif, si ce n’est pas l’avenir que vous souhaitez pour vos enfants, agissez !
    Participez à la consultation publique
    et dites NON à l’obligation de vivre en zone contaminée !
    Projet de décret relatif à la protection sanitaire contre les dangers résultant de l’exposition aux rayonnements ionisants et à la sécurité des sources de rayonnements ionisants contre les actes de malveillance. - Les consultations publiques du ministère de l’Environnement, de l’Énergie et de la Mer
    Il vous faudra inscrire : un titre, un message, votre nom (ou pseudonyme) et votre adresse mail.

    Vous pouvez rédiger vos propres messages ou utiliser des extraits ci-après :

    Proposition de titre : « Accident nucléaire : des niveaux de référence inacceptables »
    Proposition de message :
    « Le projet de décret retient des niveaux de référence excessivement élevés pour la gestion des situations accidentelles et post-accidentelles. Je demande qu’ils soient fixés à la borne inférieure et non pas supérieure de l’intervalle défini par la directive 2013/59/Euratom sur la base des recommandations de la CIPR :
    – 20 mSv et non pas 100 mSv pour la phase d’urgence
    – 1 mSv/an et non pas 20 mSv/an pour la phase post-accidentelle.
    Je demande également qu’une limite et non pas une simple référence soit établie pour la gestion des territoires contaminés et que des garanties spécifiques soient définies pour les enfants et les femmes enceintes.
    Je refuse d’être contraint de vivre et de laisser vivre mes enfants dans un environnement aussi dangereux pour notre santé. Si les pouvoirs publics ne peuvent pas garantir un niveau de risque plus faible, il est impératif de mettre à l’arrêt les installations nucléaires susceptibles de conduire à cette situation. »

    Attention, vos commentaires doivent être déposés d’ici le 30 septembre !
    Merci de nous adresser un message une fois que vous aurez déposé votre commentaire sur le site du ministère à l’adresse contact@criirad.org !

    #nucléaire #contamination #tous_cobayes

    https://seenthis.net/messages/526562 via vazi

  • Duke Study: Rivers Contaminated With Radium and Lead From Thousands of Fracking Wastewater Spills

    Thousands of oil and gas industry wastewater spills in North Dakota have caused “widespread” contamination from radioactive materials, heavy metals and corrosive salts, putting the health of people and wildlife at risk, researchers from Duke University concluded in a newly released peer-reviewed study.


    #pollution #eau #eaux_usées #contamination

    http://seenthis.net/messages/488320 via odilon


    La CRIIRAD dénonce le travail scandaleux des experts Euratom et appelle à une mobilisation massive contre le projet de la Commission européenne !

    Le projet de règlement européen
    La Commission européenne a élaboré un projet de règlement fixant les Niveaux Maximaux Admissibles (NMA) de contamination radioactive qui seront appliqués aux aliments en cas d’accident nucléaire. Ce projet est en cours d’examen par le Parlement (pour avis) et par le Conseil de l’Union européenne (pour décision). Les limites sont fixées pour 4 groupes de radionucléides et 5 catégories d’aliments, eau potable incluse. Aucune modification n’a été apportée aux valeurs établies en 1987-1989. Si les niveaux de contamination mesurés dans les aliments n’excèdent pas les NMA, ils pourront être librement commercialisés au sein de l’UE ou à partir de pays tiers.
    Des niveaux de risque inacceptables
    Si l’on en croit la Commission européenne, le projet garantit le respect de la limite maximale de dose efficace de 1 mSv/an (une limite qui correspond à un niveau de risque déjà élevé). Cette affirmation est totalement fausse. Les vérifications conduites par la CRIIRAD font apparaître des doses de l’ordre de 10 fois supérieures (et jusqu’à 100 fois pour des scénarios pénalisants) et montrent que les enfants paieront le tribut le plus élevé.
    Une accumulation d’anomalies gravissimes et orientées
    La CRIIRAD a procédé à l’analyse du rapport scientifique qui valide le choix de Niveaux Maximaux Admissibles de contamination radioactive. Daté de 1998, ce document a été rédigé par les experts officiels de la Commission (experts dits Euratom car membre du groupe d’experts établi en application de l’article 31 du traité Euratom).
    L’analyse critique a permis à la CRIIRAD d’identifier toute une série d’erreurs, d’incohérences et d’irrégularités. Elles sont graves et vont TOUTES dans le même sens : minimiser les risques et aboutir à la fixation de limites de contamination excessivement élevées. Les dysfonctionnements les plus marquants sont détaillés dans la version longue du communiqué. Un seul exemple est développé ci-après mais il s’agit d’une incohérence majeure, rédhibitoire, entre la conception des limites et le champ d’application du règlement qui les édicte.
    En effet, de l’aveu même des experts, les Niveaux Maximaux Admissibles du règlement européen ont été définis pour l’impact d’un accident lointain, survenant à plus de 1 000 km des frontières de l’Union européenne. Partant de ce postulat, les experts ont considéré que la contamination ne toucherait qu’une faible part de la ration alimentaire des consommateurs européens (10% des aliments solides, 1% de l’eau potable). Problème : le règlement s’applique à tous les accidents nucléaires majeurs et en premier lieu à ceux qui surviendraient en Europe ! Mais dans ce cas, les hypothèses de calcul ne tiennent plus : le pourcentage d’aliments contaminés serait bien plus élevé ce qui impose des limites beaucoup plus basses ! Il faut : soit revoir à la baisse, et de façon drastique, les NMA ; soit rédiger un second règlement applicable aux accidents susceptibles d’affecter fortement les Etats membres de l’UE. C’est urgent : plus de 42% des 438 réacteurs électronucléaires en fonctionnement dans le monde sont implantés en Europe. La probabilité que le prochain accident nous concerne est donc très élevée.
    Vu le nombre et la gravité des anomalies identifiées, il importe que toutes les responsabilités soient établies, tant au niveau des experts, que de la Commission, tant au niveau des élus que des Etats membres. Un courrier a été adressé au Commissaire européen en charge de la santé publique et de la sécurité alimentaire, afin d’obtenir communication des coordonnées des experts Euratom à l’origine de l’expertise de 1998 et de l’avis favorable de 2012. Diverses actions sont également en préparation, en premier lieu en direction du Parlement européen, le vote de la commission ENVI devant intervenir le 26 mai prochain.
    Appel à mobilisation
    La CRIIRAD appelle tous les citoyens européens à se mobiliser pour défendre leur santé et celle de leurs enfants. Elle les invite à s’informer et à signer, et diffuser, la pétition demandant une refonte complète, transparente et démocratique de la réglementation applicable en cas d’accident.

    Signature en ligne à : http://criirad-protegeonsnotrealimentation.wesign.it/fr

    Le dosier complet sur le site de la Criirad :

    #nucléaire #alimentation #contamination #réglementation #CRIIRAD

    http://seenthis.net/messages/372685 via vazi