SACRAMENTO, CA, Feb. 19, 2018 – Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) has introduced legislation to prohibit new projects that use oil wastewater to irrigate food crops until the practice has been proven safe.
The bill would also prohibit new permits to use oil wastewater for other purposes, such as aquaculture (farmed fish), watering livestock, and recharging groundwater aquifers, until the state can determine that the practice is safe.
The health impacts of the practice are unclear because many of the chemicals in the wastewater are not known to regulators, researchers or the public, and only minimal crop testing has been conducted. The practice currently is confined to essentially Kern County.
An independent study of oil wastewater used for irrigation determined that the identity of almost 40 percent of the chemicals were not allowed to be disclosed because of trade secret laws.
Thus far, only minimal crop testing has been conducted by the state on citrus, almond, pistachio, grape, and garlic crops. Meanwhile, while it would be logical to do, no soil testing has been conducted, despite assurances from the state that this would happen.
Two non-profit organizations, Clean Water Action and the Environmental Working Group, are sponsoring the legislation as they have argued for years that the practice should be terminated until proven safe.
Assemblymember Laura Friedman said: “California feeds the world and it’s our responsibility to ensure that the produce that we provide is farmed sustainably. With AB 2828, we can ensure that we’re providing safe produce to the dinner table and maintaining our position as a global agricultural leader.”
Keith Nakatani, Oil and Gas Program Manager, Clean Water Action said: “The oil and gas industry has hidden behind trade secret laws to avoid telling Californians what chemicals are in the wastewater that is being used to irrigate our crops. We have no idea whether the practice is safe, so public health shouldn’t be risked by issuing new permits.”
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Bill Allayaud, Director of Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group states, “Members of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board have applauded this practice, citing the need to recycle all available water, but are they sure that food shipped to our stores does not have petrochemicals in it? Of course not, yet they accommodate the oil industry and the water districts.”
Clean Water Action is a national non-profit organization, founded in 1972, that has 50,000 members in California and over one million nationwide. We empower people to take action to protect water resources, build healthy communities, and make democracy work. Visit us at www.cleanwateraction.org and follow us on Twitter at @cleanh2oaction.
Environmental Working Group is a non-profit research organization based in Washington, D.C with offices in San Francisco and Sacramento and that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. http://ewg.org