Here’s Why Reports Say Puerto Ricans Are Drinking From A Hazardous Waste Site

NARANJITO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 07:  Family members whose home no longer has running water collect spring water flowing from a mountain more than two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island, on October 7, 2017 in Naranjito, Puerto Rico. Only 11.7 percent of Puerto Rico's electricity has been restored. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Here’s Why Reports Say Puerto Ricans Are Drinking From A Hazardous Waste Site

Lines formed to fill plastic jugs full of water pumped from a federally designated hazardous-waste site.

Published October 15, 2017

It’s been more than three weeks since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and still, more than 35 percent of the citizens there still are without clean, potable drinking water. It’s driving some to take drastic and dangerous steps toward obtaining any kind of water.

CNN has learned that water being pumped to residents of Dorado, PR is from a federally-designated hazardous waste site, according to Superfund documents and federal and local officials.

Puerto Rican water utility workers distributed water from a well at the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Site on Friday afternoon (October 13). CNN’s reporting reveals that the contamination site was listed as a section of the federal Superfund program for hazardous waste cleanup in 2016.

That same day, trucks marked “Agua Potable”, or potable water, carried the potentially contaminated water to people not at the site for drinking. The United States Environmental Protection Agency says the water could contain industrial chemicals that “can have serious serious health impacts including damage to the liver and increasing the risk of cancer.”

The EPA has yet to test the water to determine whether it’s actually contaminated or poses any sort of health risk. In a statement to the cable news network the environmental agency said it’s “gathering more information about the quality of water from the wells associated with our Dorado groundwater contamination site, as well as other Superfund sites in Puerto Rico. While some of these wells are sometimes used to provide drinking water, the EPA is concerned that people could be drinking water that may be contaminated, depending on the well. We are mindful of the paramount job of protecting people’s health, balanced with people’s basic need for water.”

How did the EPA allow the water to get to the people of Dorado without clearing its safety? Hopefully the water isn’t contaminated because Puerto Rico has already suffered enough tragedy. Read the full CNN report here.

Written by Paul Meara

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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