The Fresno city council on Thursday approved a plan that could be the first step in clearing a harmful chemical out of the city’s drinking water.
The plan will authorize a feasibility analysis on removing the chemical 1,2,3-TCP from city water. 1,2,3-TCP is a known carcinogen that was used decades ago as an industrial solvent and pesticide additive. It’s been detected in 45 of the city’s 270 wells.
In 2018, the state will enforce its first ever maximum limit on how much of the chemical can be present in drinking water. This agreement authorizes the city to pay a consulting group to assess the feasibility of additional water treatment.
The city council passed the plan unanimously.
The San Francisco Chronicle published an op-ed by CWC's Asha Kreiling on the need for a drinking water standard for 1,2,3,-TCP this morning! The story describes CWC's campaign to educate residents of impacted communities, such as Arvin, about the health risks 1,2,3-TCP, where it came from, and why we should all be advocating for the State Water Board to adopt a health-protective limit of 5 parts per trillion. Check out the story online and sign up to receive updates on upcoming opportunities to take action!
It's been almost a year since CWC kicked off our campaign to protect drinking water from the cancer-causing drinking water contaminant 1,2,3-TCP, and we've come a long way. The State Water Board is making its way through the rulemaking process to establish a legal limit, or "MCL," for 1,2,3-TCP. The Board has held public workshops in Sacramento and in the Central Valley about their proposed regulation for 1,2,3-TCP, and we were thrilled to learn at their July workshops that the preliminary recommendation is to set a Maximum Contaminant Level of 5 parts per trillion. CWC has been there every step of the way, organizing, educating, and advocating alongside residents to ensure that the standard the state sets adequately protects public health.
The most critical point in this regulatory process will be starting soon. Once State Water Board staff have drafted the regulations, they must solicit input from the public. The formal public comment period is set to take place in December and January, culminating with a public hearing before State Water Board Members in January. The tentative start date is December 16th, and we will share updates about the meeting schedule as we learn of them.
Most 1,2,3-TCP contamination in California stems from the extensive application of soil fumigants manufactured by these companies containing the unnecessary impurity 1,2,3-TCP prior to the 1980s. Multi-billion dollar companies Shell Oil and Dow Chemical will be lobbying hard against a 5 parts per trillion MCL, because they know they will be on the hook once the MCL is set. Despite the companies’ knowledge of the health risks, they failed to remove the ingredient from their products or notify farmers of the risk. Water systems across the state impacted by 1,2,3-TCP contamination have sued the responsible parties, and some have already settled their cases. For example, in Kern County, the community of Lamont has used settlement money to begin treating their water for 1,2,3-TCP. Other communities' lawsuits have been pending for years, waiting for the establishment of an MCL to move forward.
We must make sure that the State Water Board does not waver from their preliminary recommendation of 5 parts per trillion, and that Shell and Dow do not get in the way of setting this vital drinking water standard. Join us by signing our petition and joining our 1,2,3-TCP Action Team. Once the public comment period begins, we'll need your help to support a health-protective MCL of 5 parts per trillion and to make sure it's the polluters, not communities, who are paying for cleanup costs. Contact CWC's Policy & Communications Analyst, Asha Kreiling to get involved: firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 706-3346.
At their last meeting on September 6, 2016, the Arvin City Council passed and adopted a resolution that "affirms its commitment to promote and encourage the efforts of the State Water Resources Control Board to establish the most health protective Maximum Contaminant Level of 5 parts per trillion for 1,2,3-Trichloropropane." Further, the resolution encourages Arvin residents and other community to stay informed and get involved in the public participation processes as the MCL is being developed at the State Water Board. Read the full resolution here!
Arvin is one of the most 1,2,3-TCP impacted communities in the most impacted County (Kern County) in all of California. CWC commends the Arvin City Council for their leadership on this issue, and for supporting the campaign to regulate a health protective MCL of 5 ppt for cancer-causing contaminant 1,2,3-TCP. We hope to work with other 1,2,3-TCP impacted communities, cities, and local water boards to adopt similar resolutions so Californians can be protected from this toxic chemical.
Read more about CWC's 1,2,3-TCP campaign and get involved!
We’re thrilled that State Water Board staff just announced their preliminary recommendation to set the most health-protective legal limit for the pesticide byproduct 1,2,3-TCP in drinking water! CWC's 1,2,3-TCP campaign team has been advocating and educating residents tirelessly to ensure the new drinking water standard adequately protects public health, so we were very enthusiastic to hear that the Board is prioritizing setting a drinking water standard that will help protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians who currently drink water contaminated by the dangerous carcinogen 1,2,3-TCP.
BUT we need your help to make sure the Board adopts this recommendation and not a weaker standard. Please take action by telling the State Water Board you support their preliminary recommendation of the most health protective drinking water standard for TCP -- 5 parts per trillion!
CWC staff and residents from the San Joaquin Valley showed up at the Board’s first public workshops in Sacramento, Bakersfield, and Fresno, and spoke in strong support of setting the MCL for 1,2,3-TCP at 5 ppt to protect community health.
At the Sacramento meeting, CWC's Asha Kreiling testified in strong support of the board's preliminary recommendation of 5 ppt and reminded the Board of the impacts and concerns faced by small, rural communities in the Valley dealing with this cancer-causing contaminant. She urged Board members to ensure that the MCL they adopt next year is ultimately set at 5 ppt. Our allies, including Clean Water Action, Pesticide Action Network, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, and Sierra Club of California, reiterated the urgency and importance of setting the MCL at the most health-protective level, and stressed that costs to treat this so-called "garbage chemical" should be borne by the responsible parties, Shell Oil and Dow Chemical, not local water systems nor their ratepayers.
At the Valley workshops in Bakersfield and Fresno, residents and local water board members turned out to express their support for the preliminary recommendation, and share concerns and emotional stories about high rates of cancer and illness in their communities where 1,2,3-TCP is present. Additionally, several media stories, including an op-ed by our very own Jerry Tinoco, were published in the past few weeks drawing significant attention to this important issue.
These past few weeks show the progress we've made toward securing a strong, health-protective MCL for the toxic drinking water contaminant 1,2,3-TCP, but this is just the beginning! While the State Water Board has made public health a priority with their preliminary recommendation, we expect push-back from the polluters who are responsible for cleaning up this contaminant, so we still have work our work cut out in Sacramento and in our impacted communities.
We expect the formal comment period -- when we will really need your support with letters, petitions, and public testimony! -- to begin this fall. That would put California on track to adopt the MCL in Spring 2017. Stay tuned for more updates, and take action for health if you haven't already!
By Jessica Harrington
July 26, 2016
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The State Water Board held a public workshop in Bakersfield Tuesday on the pesticide byproduct 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP).
The workshop was the second of of three meetings the State Water Board is holding in regards to 1,2,3 TCP.
"My concern is that the water has different kinds of things that, that we -- a lot of people don't know about," said James Guzman who attended the meeting Tuesday.
On July 21, 2016 the State Water Board held the first of three meetings. In the first meeting, the State Water Board staff shared a preliminary proposal to set the TCP drinking water standard at 5 parts per trillion, which experts say is the most health-protective standard.
"You don't get sick right away or anything like that, but over a long period of time, there could be a chance," said Andrew DiLuccia, a spokesperson for the State Water Board. However, he said that's why the water board wants to implement regulations -- to prevent it from happening altogether.
Currently, Kern County's water is about 200 times that amount, something experts say is extremely dangerous and can cause cancer.
The carcinogen is not regulated in water, companies are simply required to tell their customers that the water is higher than 5 parts per trillion.
State Water Officials said resident increase the likelihood of developing cancer if they drink two liters of the water per day for 70 or more years.
"You know if we can eliminate any possible exposure, why not do it?" said Jerry Tinoco, a coordinator for the south Kern community for the Community Water Center.
The proposed regulation would give the State Water Board the option to take action if a water company exceeds more than 5 parts per trillion of 1,2,3 TCP in the water.
"Setting the standard at this level would help protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians who currently drink water contaminated with TCP," Asha Kreiling posted on the CWC website.
Kreiling said CWC expects the standard will be presented later this year and hopes it will be formally adopted by next spring, around April.
For more information about 1,2,3 TCP visit the State Water Board website here.
By Anne Di Grazia
July 26, 2016
It was once classified as a "safe" pesticide by Central Valley farmers and an "okay" cleaning product. But 1-2-3 TCP is far from safe. It is an colorless, odorless, cancer-causing chemical that has leaked into our groundwater.
Isabel Martinez and Jerry Tinoco live in Arvin and claim the water is contaminated.
"You know our people is dying that's not fair that's not fair at all," Martinez said.
"We have 1-2-3 TCP and Arsenic in the water, we don't have safe drinking water in Arvin," Tinoco said.
During the state water board presentation they learned 471 public water system wells across the state are tainted with 1-2-3 TCP. According to officials, 117 of those wells are here in Kern, the highest number in the state.
State Water Board spokesperson, Andrew DiLuccia, said those are private wells they are public wells that serve 15 or more connections.
To ensure clean drinking water the board is looking to develop a maximum contaminant level schedule to hold providers accountable, making sure they are testing water and monitoring constantly. Informing the public of 1-2-3 TCP contamination and treating appropriately.
"It will have a legal enforcement which we don't have right now in order to get water systems back in compliance," DiLuccia said.
A long term plan that won't start until 2018 but will give the community hope.
"It's a big step for them to come down to the valley, to the belly of the beast, and educate the residents, the people who are affected directly," Tinoco said.
The board said it will use public input to establish it's final maximum contaminant level recommendation. If you missed today's meeting and want more information click here.
By Kahtia Hall
July 26, 2016
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The State Water Resources Board met with the public Tuesday to discuss plans to monitor the high levels of 1,2,3-TCP that have been found in public wells across Kern County.
The cleaning solvent 1,2,3-TCP is also associated with pesticide products.
Back in the 1940s, Dow and Shell started to use this product as a fumigant. Even though, they had evidence it was harmful to humans, they continued to use it anyways. By the '90s, 1,2,3- TCP was banned, but by that time the toxin had found it's way into the groundwater.
Anything over 5 ppt is considered toxic, and currently there are 117 public wells across Kern County that have are over this limit of 1,2,3-TCPs.
Even though, high toxins have been found, water providers do not have to do anything about it. This carcinogen is can be absorbed through the drinking water or by breathing it in the home.
The State Water Resources Board met Tuesday to discuss plans to come up with a MCL, or maximum contaminant level, making an effort to regulate these toxins.
"When that is in place, water systems will have to test for that along with all the other chemicals that they test for. That will be part of their weekly, monthly or daily, in some instances, part of their reporting," said Andrew DiLuccia, spokesperson for the State Water Resources Board.
If water providers exceed this level, they will be forced to put in treatment. One of the main kinds of treatment officials are looking at is called granulated active carbon. Diluccia said this kind of treatment has been used for decades and is cost-effective.
Residents living in the Arvin community say they have seen a high number of cancer-related deaths, and everyone Eyewitness News talked to links those deaths to the toxic water.
"I went back to Arvin five years ago, and ever since I moved back, just around my block, five ladies have passed away from cancer, and then there is three cancer survivors, and I always thought something is not right here ... something is not right," said Elizabeth Martinez, an Arvin resident.
No current cases have been linked to the contaminant. But, according to the State Water Resources Board, drinking high levels of 1,2,3-TCP over 70 years can increase risks of developing cancer.
By Jerry Tinoco
A few weeks ago, a Bakersfield television report on the carcinogenic water contaminant 1,2,3-trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP) caught many local residents by surprise. The report shared details about the prevalence of this drinking water contaminant and highlighted that some wells exceeded the state’s public health goal for 1,2,3-TCP by 200 times. Many people were rightfully confused and concerned.
As a lifelong Arvin resident and the South Kern Community Programs Coordinator for the Community Water Center (CWC), I have been working alongside community members to set a health-protective drinking water standard for 1,2,3-TCP. A strong standard is needed so that we can start regulating this dangerous contaminant in our drinking water. This month, residents have opportunities to learn more about 1,2,3-TCP and get involved in advocacy to protect our communities from this chemical.
Right after the television report came out, I started getting calls from concerned residents in Kern County asking what 1,2,3-TCP is, where it comes from, and what we can do about it. In a sense, they had just taken an important step toward addressing this issue, which is to educate themselves.
Before talking about what we can do to address 1,2,3-TCP, I want to share a brief history of this contaminant to help South Kern residents understand why a colorless, odorless and tasteless manmade chemical is in our drinking water. Classified as a carcinogen in 1999, 1,2,3-TCP nevertheless remains unregulated by the State of California which lacks a drinking water standard. 1,2,3-TCP was a pesticide ingredient that got into the Central Valley’s groundwater through extensive pesticide use prior to the 1980s.
What makes this particularly frustrating is that 1,2,3-TCP was only a byproduct in these pesticides. Since it was not an active ingredient, 1,2,3-TCP served no purpose, making this a horrible example of corporate irresponsibility and negligence. Two corporations – Shell and Dow – decided to leave this byproduct in their pesticides rather than properly disposing of it as a hazardous waste. Their choice to do so has left South Kern residents and hundreds of thousands of Californians exposed to a chemical known to cause irritation and burning of the skin, nose, eyes, and throat – and cancer. Kern County now has the unfortunate honor of being the county with the greatest number of 1,2,3-TCP detections in California, with 17 contaminated community water systems, including those serving Arvin, Bakersfield, and Greenfield.
And yes, drinking the water once or twice won’t kill you. Hazardous effects come from prolonged exposure to this contaminant. Many people live in Kern County their whole lives. Their roots are here. Unfortunately those roots are grounded in contaminated water. Still, no one should have to choose between staying in their hometown and living somewhere else with safe water.
So how can we prevent people from having to make that decision? Now that we know this contaminant is here, what can we do?
First, you can use bottled water for drinking, cooking and washing dishes. Unfortunately, unlike with Arsenic, there are no 1,2,3-TCP filters certified for in-home use because manufactures, who make filters for Arsenic, can’t make filters because California lacks a drinking water standard for this contaminant. In order for individuals, families and communities to deal with 1,2,3-TCP, we need the State Water Board to set a health-protective drinking water standard, or Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), for this contaminant.
The second thing you can do is to get involved in the process of setting that MCL. The State Water Resources Control Board will be hosting a workshop on July 26th in Bakersfield to hear residents’ input and concerns. This is our opportunity to be our own advocates and let our voices be heard. In preparation for that meeting, the Community Water Center will be hosting two community meetings on July 21st and 22nd in Arvin and Greenfield, respectively, so that you can learn more about this contaminant and the process of establishing an MCL.
Setting the MCL will put in motion the series of events that will finally rid us of this contaminant. With an MCL, filters can be certified to treat 1,2,3-TCP, water providers can be required to treat their water systems, and the corporations responsible for this contaminant can be held accountable for their negligence.
We need to let those in power know that we do not want harmful chemicals in our water, and that we deserve an MCL that prioritizes our health. The Community Water Center and our partners are urging the state to set the MCL at 5 parts per trillion to protect community health. If we want to achieve this goal, I need my neighbors to join me at these upcoming meetings so that we can send a strong message to the State Water Board. So whether you’re from Arvin, Bakersfield, Delano, or anywhere in Kern County, I encourage you to come out, learn more, and let your voices be heard to ensure everyone has safe water.
CWC Community Workshop
Friday, July 22, 6:00 p.m.
Rexland Community Center
325 Fairview Rd.
Bakersfield, California 93307
State Water Board Public Workshop
Tuesday, July 26, 2016 – 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Kern County Public Health Department, Mojave/Sierra Room
1800 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Bakersfield 93306
Learn more and join CWC’s action team here or give me a call at (661) 345-9976.
July 19, 2016
The California State Water Resources Control Board will soon set a maximum contaminant level for 1,2,3 Trichloropropane, or 1,2,3 TCP.
It's currently found in industrial solvents and cleaning agents, but it was once found in two popular soil fumigants made by Dow Chemical and Shell Oil Company.
The pesticide byproduct contaminated groundwater throughout the Central Valley. State water regulators have found 1,2,3 TCP in 94 public drinking water systems in 16 counties.
Right now, water systems in California are only required to notify residents if the chemical is found at a certain health-based advisory level.
“But they are not required to do anything about it. They’re not required to treat it," says Asha Kreiling with the environmental justice group Community Water Action. "It’s totally legal to be in the water, although we know this is a human carcinogen. Having a MCL [Maximum Contaminant Level] established will require public water systems to treat the water.”
The State Water Resources Control Board will hold public meetings in Sacramento, Fresno, and Bakersfield this month to discuss what the legal limit should be.
Environmental groups want regulators to set the lowest and most protective level possible so that the companies responsible for the contamination are paying for treatment.
Regulators are expected to make an official recommendation in the fall.