California seeks to slash chromium-6 in tap water

California, often an environmental trendsetter, is proposing a strict public health goal to reduce chromium-6, a probable carcinogen, in tap water following a recent report about its prevalence in 31 U.S. cities.

The state, which proposed an initial goal in late 2009, issued a draft version last week of a much stricter voluntary standard for the chemical that was made famous in the 2000 Hollywood movie Erin Brockovich. It’s now seeking public comment before finalizing its goal.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to set a limit for chromium-6, also known as hexavalent chromium, in tap water. In 2007, the National Institutes of Health reported strong evidence that the chemical caused cancer in laboratory animals when consumed in drinking water.

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Probable Carcinogen Found in Tap Water of 31 U.S. Cities

In 25 of 35 U.S. cities where tap water supplies were tested for hexavalent chromium — deemed likely to cause cancer in humans in a U.S. EPA draft review this year — levels of the chemical exceeded the minimum set by the state of California to protect public health, according to a report released today by an environmental group.

The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) new findings mark a public flare-up in the behind-the-scenes battle over estimating the carcinogenicity of oral exposure to hexavalent chromium, also referred to as chromium-6. The draft EPA assessment released in September could pave the way for a national drinking-water standard for the chemical, best known for polluting groundwater in Hinkley, Calif., where activist Erin Brockovich won a multimillion-dollar settlement for locals and became a household name.

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Perchlorate in drinking water more detrimental to infants than expected: study

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) — Infants who drink water containing low levels of the chemical perchlorate face a greater health risk than previously believed, a new study suggests.

In the study, researchers looked at ground drinking water slightly contaminated with perchlorate in several cities in Southern California, the Press Enterprise said Saturday.

The study shows that infants who drank water slightly contaminated with perchlorate had a 50-percent chance of developing poorly performing thyroid glands, the paper said, quoting Dr. Craig Steinmaus from California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and lead author of the study.

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Proposed rules seek to clear agricultural pollutants from waterways; study says Central Coast water most toxic in state

Aiming to clean up some of the most toxic water in California, regional water quality officials are considering new rules to control polluting runoff from agricultural fields.

Growers say the regulations are too burdensome, and countered last week with a proposal to have an industry-backed coalition tackle water quality problems.

Environmentalists say neither plan does enough to protect water supplies.

After more than two years in development, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Board will consider adopting the new regulations in March.

Executive Officer Roger Briggs said board staff sought to create a plan that would be practical and hold people accountable.

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Hinkley chromium clean-up could take more than a century

HINKLEY • The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board will be deciding soon if an expansion to the treatment of the chromium 6 water plume in Hinkley will be put into place, but residents probably won’t see the results in their lifetimes.

Pacific Gas and Electric is proposing to expand its current operation of injecting the chromium 6 tainted water with ethanol to convert it to the less dangerous chromium 3. In a feasibility study done by the water board, the ethanol treatment would probably take about 150 years to restore chromium 6 levels to the naturally occurring levels of 3.1 parts per billion.

The feasibility study done by the water board shows that the removal of the chromium 6 tainted groundwater will take more than 100 years, even with the most effective treatment.

PG&E is currently injecting ethanol into the plume in order to convert the chromium 6 into chromium 3, which is much less toxic. The company pumps contaminated water out and sprays it onto alfalfa plants so that it will not be spread through the air. PG&E also injects clean water as part of the program to cleanse the groundwater.

The expanded program will include increased pumping and will occur over a larger area, said Lauri Kemper, assistant executive officer for the Lahontan water board.

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State of Emergency Declared in California

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declares a state of emergency in one California County after contaminated tap water was found.The residents of San Bernardino County were warned late last week not to drink the tap water.This was after the city of Barstow’s water supply showed traces of a toxic chemical used to make rocket fuel and explosives…Residents were told boiling the water would *not* help in reducing the chemical level in the water.Instead they were urged to take advantage of the free water bottles that were being distributed..Golden state water company is investigating the source of the contamination.

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Water pollution spreading in the Valley

A plume of toxic chemicals under the San Fernando Valley has expanded so much in recent years that city officials have had to close dozens of water wells and may have to stop drawing local water altogether unless a massive $850 million cleanup effort is undertaken.

The plume of contaminated water has now grown to about 2 miles wide and 7-10 miles long, and the Department of Water and Power has been forced to close a growing number of wells, said Pankaj Parekh, the DWP’s director of water quality.

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Chemist urges state to approve soil fumigant

The chemist who developed what environmentalists insist is a dangerous poison for use on California crops urged the state last week to approve his concoction so that farmers can produce the kind of disease- and bug-free fruit that consumers expect.

Jim Sims, the organic chemist who owns the patent for methyl iodide, says that California growers have to use the fumigant if they are going to continue feeding the nation.

“It is absolutely necessary to continue agriculture in this state, and that is what is at stake,” said Sims, who worked in the plant pathology department at UC Riverside for 40 years until his retirement in 2004. “I think methyl iodide can be used safely.”

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How Drug Manufacturing Facilities Are Threatening Our Drinking Water

A five-year study conducted by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researchers has found that pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities are a “significant source” of pharmaceuticals that enter the local environment.
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Arsenic in water: A global problem

Lancet, The British medical journal had revealed shocking news stating that in Bangladesh there are high concentrations of Arsenic in drinking water and as result of that millions of people are suffering from arsenic poisoning.

More shocking is the fact that it is not limited to Bangladesh only, it may be expanding in other countries of the world. Thinking of the effect of arsenic on human body, it would be a gross understatement to say that if people are exposed to arsenic poisoning at this rate there can emerge an epidemic.

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State samples air, water near Calif. toxic dump

KETTLEMAN CITY, Calif. — Grieving parents testified Thursday before California legislators about a rash of infant deaths and birth defects in an impoverished farm town next to the biggest hazardous waste landfill in the West.

“How many more children will have to be born with these conditions for them to listen to us?” asked Magdalena Romero, whose daughter, America, died a few months after she was born with a cleft palate and other health problems. “Our children are dying, and we don’t know why. For such a small town, it’s just too big of a coincidence.”

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West-side farmers clear water hurdle

Despite activist opposition, west Valley farmers have cleared a key hurdle for a decadelong extension on the deadline to clean up tainted irrigation drainage going into the San Joaquin River.

The extension for the Grassland Bypass Project, which prevents the bad water from passing through 100 miles of sensitive wetlands channels, was approved Thursday by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The California Sport Fishing Alliance and the California Water Impact Network argued the contamination will jeopardize the revival of long-dead salmon runs in early 2013. Re-establishing the salmon is part of a San Joaquin River restoration program that began last year.

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Tulare Co. towns can’t tap funds for clean water

Federal officials used more than $20 billion in stimulus money to jump-start all kinds of projects in California over the last year — everything from filling potholes to monitoring volcanoes.

But the spending spree never reached some of the state’s poorest residents, who often get contaminated water when they turn on the taps in at least 10 small Tulare County communities.

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Investigation: Nitrates contaminate California’s water

The wells that supply more than 2 million Californians with drinking water have been found to contain harmful levels of nitrates over the past 15 years — a time marked by lax regulatory efforts to control the colorless and odorless contaminant.

Nitrates, a byproduct of farm fertilizer and some wastewater treatment systems, are now the most common groundwater contaminant in California and across the country.

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Remedies for tainted water in Central Valley are not quick or easy

John and Rosenda Mataka never gave a thought to their tap water until 1995, when the city of Modesto took over the town of Grayson’s water supply wells and informed everyone that they had been drinking nitrate-contaminated water for more than a decade.

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Nitrate contamination spreading in California’s water supply

Nitrate contamination has been found in water systems that provides drinking water to more than 2 million Californians, according to an investigation by California Watch.

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Burbank lawsuits against Disney over toxic groundwater may go forward

“A judge said today he was inclined to allow two lawsuits that allege The Walt Disney Co. for decades contaminated groundwater with toxic chemicals to move forward. One of the cases was filed in March 2009 by Burbank homeowner Dennis Jackson and his two children, Matthew and Jennifer Jackson. They allege Disney has dumped wastewater contaminated with hexavalent chromium from its on-site cooling systems since 1998 and that the pollutants caused the death of Louise Jackson, wife of Dennis and mother of Matthew and Jennifer.

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AES plant cool to change

Redondo’s AES plant, like 18 others along the state’s coastline, has for decades relied on once-through cooling technology to generate electricity. The systems suck in saltwater to cool the plants’ turbines, and then quickly release the warmed water back to sea.

But the process this week faces new restrictions that leave its future in question along the California coastline.

Officials with the state Water Resources Control Board, which will vote on the rule Tuesday, say the goal is to come into compliance with a decades-old section of the federal Clean Water Act that requires plants to use the “best technology available” in the interest of protecting marine life.

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Cal Water Lifts Stockton ‘Boil Water Advisory’

Cal Water is now telling Stockton residents who were affected by the boil water advisory, that it is no longer necessary to boil water for drinking and cooking purposes.

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Water boiling advisory is still in effect

STOCKTON – A water boiling advisory for residents of 3,500 homes in west-central Stockton is expected to remain in place until at least tonight, an official from California Water Service Co. said Thursday.

The advisory was issued Wednesday after a water sample from a faucet near a construction site revealed E. coli bacteria, possibly from animal or human waste.

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