Nearly 35% of Puerto Rico residents still without water

Nearly 35% of Puerto Rico residents still without water

By Marvin Schrebe

Residents in Puerto Rico are so desperate for water that they wait in line to fill jugs with water that may be contaminated with hazardous waste! One Puerto Rican stood in line to fill several jugs with the water to do dishes and cook. The water he was unwittingly going to use was being pumped from a federally designated hazardous waste disposal site. The situation  in Puerto Rico has reached beyond desperate as nearly half of the territory is still without electricity and drinking water. President Trump once tweeted that the Fedral Emergency Management Agency could not stay in Puerto Rico forever, raising objections from many who took the tweet to mean the agency would be leaving soon. President Trump later retweeted that the agency would stay in Puerto Rico as long as there was a legitimate need for them. Puerto Rico was devastated when Hurricane Marie made landfall there and is in desperate need of manpower and resources to restore the territory. Even the governor’s mansion was hit by the hurricane, which tore the roof off of that facility. Jose Rodriguez, 66, of Puerto Rico was so desperate for water that he was willing to knowingly use the water from the hazardous waste site. “I don’t have a choice,” Rodriguez told CNN.. “This is the only option I have.”

Nearly a month after Marie devastated the island, nearly thirty-five percent (35%) of the residents are still without water. One Friday afternoon CNN witnessed workers delivering water to residents who filled jugs from a well labeled ”Dorado Groundwater Contamination Site, a hazardous waste clean up site.. Some trucks were from the municipality of Dorado also delivered water labeled “Agua Potable”, Spanish for drinkable water.

CNN Reported “In announcing the addition of the Dorado site to the Superfund program, the US Environmental Protection Agency says the area was polluted with industrial chemicals, including tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene, which "can have serious health impacts including damage to the liver and increasing the risk of cancer," according to the EPA.”

It is unclear whether there are public health risks in this particular well however. CNN reports that the EPA is investigating this problem. “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," the agency said in a statement issued to CNN on Friday. "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."

CNN reported that Regional EPA spokesman Elias Rodriguez confirmed the location is part of a Superfund site. Autoridad de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the agency pumping the water was unaware of the status of the well until CNN showed the environmental director of the ageny maps confirming the well’s status as a EPA Superfund Site. Once this was confirmed Melendez continued to use the well saying the water was fit for consumption in his opinion and was being used on an emergeny basis.CNN reported that in 2015, this well in Dorado, which is located near a shopping center, was found by the EPA to be safely within federal standards for PCE and chloroform, two industrial chemicals.

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