I stopped buying foods imported from Asia in the mistaken belief that those produced in the USA, with its higher regulation standards, would be much safer. Not so.
On this page:
- 350,000 people have asked California’s governor to halt the dangerous practice of irrigating crops with oil-contaminated wastewater from Chevron.
- California is responsible for the majority of the U.S.’ produce, so what happens in the sunny state, happens everywhere.
- Crops irrigated with contaminated fracking water include those labelled ORGANIC
- Just a few of the known chemicals in oil wastewater can and do cause cancer, kidney failure, reproductive issues, and liver damage.
- Samples of oil wastewater have been shown to contain harmful levels of oil, acetone, benzene and many other toxic compounds. According to the EPA, benzene is a known carcinogen.
- Currently, neither state nor federal agencies are preventing oil and gas wastewater from being used for agriculture in California.
- Shocker: Government scientists admit they deceived the public about fracking’s impact on drinking water.
California — 350,000 people just asked California’s governor to halt the dangerous practice of irrigating crops with oil-contaminated wastewater from Chevron.
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A petition representing more than a quarter million Californians was delivered by activists who gathered outside the state capitol this past week to urge Governor Jerry Brown to stop Chevron and California Resources Corporation from dumping oil wastewater on over 90,000 acres in the Cawelo Irrigation District and the North Kern Water Management District, among others, slated to be irrigated with petro-water. More than 100 farms are affected by the practice.
The true impact of irrigating crops with oil wastewater is not yet known, but it is full of a bevy of chemicals that make it seriously concerning. Independent research conducted by the California Council on Science Technology (CCST) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) suggest that using Chevron’s cast-off water should be banned, though both institutions say they are not yet sure how it will affect crops long-term.
“Californians want to know what is in the water and the soil that is used to grow their food. This should not be a problem, especially if there is nothing to hide,” Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) said.
California is responsible for the majority of the U.S.’ produce, so what happens in the sunny state, happens everywhere. Agricultural exports from the state — amounting to $21.9 billion in value, and over 400 commodities — are also affected by wastewater irrigation.
Just a few of the known chemicals in oil wastewater can and do cause cancer, kidney failure, reproductive issues, and liver damage; yet no independent, conclusive studies have yet been conducted.
Samples of oil wastewater have been shown to contain harmful levels of oil, acetone, and benzene. According to the EPA, benzene is a known carcinogen.
Notably, Chevron/Texaco is also known throughout the Amazon for similar practices.
Contributing to an environmental disaster known as the ‘Chernobyl of the Ecuadorian Rainforest’, the company is said to have dumped toxic chemical waste in huge holes in the ground, harming the local ecosystem and tainting indigenous people’s drinking water.
After carving out over 350 oil wells over an approximately 24-year period, more than 1,000 contaminated pits were left behind.
Sadly, a group of plaintiffs who tried to challenge the company for their environmental degradation just lost a $9 billion-dollar court case, when the judge presiding over the matter sided with Chevron.
The California-based company says that agreements with the Ecuadorian government absolve them from any culpability.
Hopefully, a similar fate is not in store for Californians — or the rest of the U.S. eating California’s fruit and vegetables. No one wants to eat a mandarin orange that has been watered with toxic fracking water, even though Chevron maintains that its oil field wastewater is ‘clean.’
Currently, neither state nor federal agencies are preventing oil and gas wastewater from being used for agriculture in California.
LEGAL: Organic products can be irrigated with toxic fracking water
Most U.S. consumers are unaware that so-called "organic" produce can be grown with fracking wastewater, much less that the practice is common in drought-stricken regions such as California.
Two environmental groups, the Sierra Club and the Cornucopia Institute, today publicized a petition asking the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ban toxic irrigation of organic food.
"Consumers buy organic produce to support sustainable agriculture that doesn’t use toxic chemicals," said Alexander Rony, Sierra Club's senior digital innovation campaigner, in a press statement. "Oil wastewater puts the entire organic system at risk. If you can’t be sure what’s in your organic fruits and vegetables, what food can you trust?"
Federal regulations currently allow "produced water," a euphemism for wastewater produced by the fracking process, to irrigate organic crops.
The practice has grown more common in regions desperate for new sources of water.
Big Oil has seized on the drought currently underway in California, for example, as an opportunity to rid itself of the tens of millions of gallons of toxic fracking waste it produces annually in the state.
Back in 2015, Bloomberg Business noted that "companies are looking to recycle their water or sell it to parched farms as the industry tries to get ahead of environmental lawsuits and new regulations."
Areas desperate for water are taking fracking corporations up on their offer, and farmers irrigating their crops with wastewater are still permitted to sell that produce under the USDA's organic label.
Current organic certification regulations ignore the fact that "recycled and treated oil or gas wastewater used for irrigation can be contaminated by a variety of toxic chemicals, including industrial solvents such as acetone and methylene chloride, and hydrocarbons (oil components)," wrote Cornucopia staff scientist Jerome Rigot.
Testing by Scott Smith, chief scientist for the advocacy group Water Defense, of the irrigation water provided by Chevron was shown to contain a multitude of contaminants, ranging from several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, xylenes and acetone, methylene chloride, several hydrocarbons, high concentration of sodium chloride (table salt), other halide salts (bromide, fluoride, chloride), heavy metals, and radioactive metals (2 radium isotopes). Many of these compounds are potential and known carcinogens.
Furthermore, "published research indicates that certain plants are very efficient in taking up chemical and pharmaceutical residues from the soil where they then can accumulate in the plant’s tissue," the petition notes.
An orange "is 90 percent water," says Tom Frantz, a Californian orange farmer featured in a February episode of the documentary series Spotlight California, "and where did that water come from?"
Shocker: Govt. Scientists Admit They Deceived the Public About Fracking’s Impact on Drinking Water
January 2016 - Five years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was commissioned by Congress to undertake a study on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on drinking water. This newer method of oil and gas extraction involves the pumping of highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals into underground rock formations.
Fracking has driven the boom in U.S. oil production and contributed to the steep drop in gasoline prices, but the environmental impacts of this relatively new technique are not well understood.
The EPA’s draft study—released in June to solicit input from advisers and the public—found that fracking has already contaminated drinking water, stating in the report:
“We found specific instances where one or more mechanisms led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells…Approximately 6,800 sources of drinking water for public water systems were located within one mile of at least one hydraulically fractured well … These drinking water sources served more than 8.6 million people year-round in 2013…Hydraulic fracturing can also affect drinking water resources outside the immediate vicinity of a hydraulically fractured well.”
Despite these findings, and EPA’s own admissions of “data limitations and uncertainties” as well as “the paucity of long-term systemic studies,” the agency stated in its conclusion that “there is no evidence fracking has led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”
Industry hacks and their MSM cheerleaders took this line and ran with it, proclaiming that “the science is settled” on fracking and any further concerns are just crazed environmental activists pursuing an agenda.
However, it turns out that the EPA’s own science advisers have repudiated the study’s major conclusion, saying that it is “inconsistent with the observations, data and levels of uncertainty.”
“Major findings are ambiguous or are inconsistent with the observations/data presented in the body of the report,” the 31-member scientific review board said on Thursday. The panel will have a public teleconference on Feb. 1 before sending its final recommendations to EPA.
The conclusion of the draft report had already drawn suspicion of political tampering. Adding to this is the fact that EPA left out high-profile cases in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming “where hydraulic fracturing activities are perceived by many members of the public to have caused significant local impacts to drinking water sources.”
The EPA draft report also found that failed wells and aboveground spills may have affected drinking water resources. It found evidence of more than 36,000 spills from 2006 to 2012. According to Bloomberg:
“Spill data alone “gives sufficient pause to reconsider the statement” that there’s no evidence of systemic, widespread damage, said panelist Bruce Honeyman, professor emeritus at the Colorado School of Mines.“It’s important to characterize and discuss the frequency and severity of outliers that have occurred,” said panelist Katherine Bennett Ensor, chairwoman of the Rice University Department of Statistics.And panel member James Bruckner, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Georgia, said the report glosses over the limited data and studies available to the agency.“I do not think that the document’s authors have gone far enough to emphasize how preliminary these key conclusions are and how limited the factual bases are for their judgments,” Bruckner said.Young, the University of California professor who suggested rewriting the top-line conclusion, faulted the document for trying “to draw a global and permanent conclusion about the safety or impacts of hydraulic fracturing at the national level” given the “uncertainties and data limitations described in the report.””
In light of these criticisms, there will be heavy pressure to revise the EPA’s conclusion in the final report, and the oil and gas industry will have major egg on its face.
The fact is, fracking was fast-tracked into use before the environmental impacts could be properly assessed. Public health and environmental quality took a back seat to the profits of an industry that long ago cemented its grip on federal and state governments.
The oil and gas industry tried their hardest, with the help of government agencies, to keep the identity of fracking fluids from becoming public knowledge. But as that information has come out, we are finding that these chemicals pose catastrophic risks to human health, as a study by the Yale School of Public Health points out.
“In an analysis of more than 1,000 chemicals in fluids used in and created by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Yale School of Public Health researchers found that many of the substances have been linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, and the majority had undetermined toxicity due to insufficient information.Further exposure and epidemiological studies are urgently needed to evaluate potential threats to human health from chemicals found in fracking fluids and wastewater created by fracking.”
Contamination of drinking water is not the only threat that fracking poses. Oklahoma, which has gone full speed ahead with fracking operations, has seen a 730 percent increase in earthquake activity since 2013. Since the start of the new year, 69 earthquakes have struck, with two registering a magnitude of 4.7 and 4.8.
The state’s own Geological Survey admitted, “we know that the recent rise in earthquakes cannot be entirely attributed to natural causes.” They say the earthquakes are caused by wastewater injection wells, not fracking, but this is dubious considering the tremendous influence of the oil and gas industry in that state.
A report released last year by a group of seismologists, researchers, and oil and gas industry representatives “overwhelmingly connected hydro fracturing to the surge in earthquakes.”
It is past time for government to stop endangering public and environmental health by protecting the fossil fuel industry with bogus conclusions in its risk assessments.