(UR) California — 350,000 people just asked California’s governor to halt the dangerous practice of irrigating crops with oil-contaminated wastewater from Chevron.
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 than1,000 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.
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