More than three weeks after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, over 35 percent of the American citizens there (and Puerto Ricans are all American citizens, every single one of them) do not have potable drinking water—and a report that came out late Friday night indicates that the residents of Dorado, Puerto Rico, are being given water from a hazardous-waste site.
After reviewing Superfund documents and interviewing federal and local officials, CNN learned that the water being pumped to residents of Dorado is from a federally designated hazardous-waste site.
Workers from the Puerto Rican water utility, Autoridad de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, distributed water from a well at the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Site on Friday afternoon, and CNN reports that the contamination site was listed as part of the federal Superfund program for hazardous-waste cleanup in 2016.
When it was announced that the Dorado site was part of the Superfund program, the Environmental Protection Agency said that the area was polluted with industrial chemicals that “can have serious serious health impacts including damage to the liver and increasing the risk of cancer.”
On Friday, trucks marked with “Agua Potable,” Spanish for potable water, carried that water to people elsewhere for drinking.
The EPA has yet to test the water to determine whether it carries a health risk or not. According to CNN, the agency said that it plans to do testing in the area over the weekend.
You know, after it has already given the untested water to people for drinking.
In a statement issued to CNN on Friday, the EPA said:
The EPA is 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.
They could literally be poisoning people right now, but they don’t know it because they didn’t test the water before distributing it.
In addition, the Puerto Rican water authority—AAA—was unaware of the risks associated with the water until CNN told it.
That this is happening to U.S. citizens is both horrific and heartbreaking. This administration is treating the people of Puerto Rico as if they don’t matter. It is another example of environmental racism.
Read more at CNN.