pollution

Scott Bauer / Bioscience

Marijuana is big business in California. By some estimates pot is actually the state's top cash crop. But with the boom in marijuana cultivation, there is also a significant environmental toll. Mountain tops are being leveled, and streams are being illegally diverted threatening species already stressed by the drought. With the possibility of marijuana legalization looming in 2016, the issue of how to clean up the environmental damage caused by pot production is a big concern. 

New State Office Could Help Poor Valley Communities Get Clean Drinking Water

Mar 25, 2015
Valley Public Radio

The emergency drought relief bill that California lawmakers will begin voting on Wednesday would create a new state office. That might sound fairly mundane. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, supporters say it could help disadvantaged communities.

Clean water advocates will tell you that it can sometimes take decades for small or poor communities to get clean drinking water. Laurel Firestone is with the Community Water Center.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Two senate committees water and the environment held a joint hearing Tuesday in Sacramento focusing on the potential contamination of federally protected aquifers by oil producers. 

The state's Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources had allowed production companies to inject oil field waste water into some aquifers that the EPA says could be used for drinking water. The revelation has resulted in the shutdown of 23 wells, slowing production in Kern County. 

John Chacon / CA Dept of Water Resources

California’s drought isn't just causing wells to go dry, it's also contributing to a long running water pollution problem.

A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey looked at over 100 private domestic drinking water wells in the San Joaquin Valley. It found that around 1 in 4 had uranium levels above those considered safe by the EPA. Most of the wells were on the east side of the valley, which is home to sediment from the Sierra Nevada which naturally contains uranium.

Fountains For Schools With Limited Water Access

Jan 8, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

More than 100 schools in California's Central Valley will receive water purification stations under a new program designed to give kids fresh water instead of sugary drinks with lunch. Capital Public Radio's Bob Moffitt reports.

The California Endowment created the pilot project called "Agua For All" and has joined with three regional groups in the state to identify schools that need water fountains or water filtration systems. 

Sarah Buck with the Rural Community Assistance Corporation says 120 schools will receive new fountains.

Joe Moore

Last week the US Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a plan that would set a new more stringent rule for the amount of ozone pollution in the air. The proposal is based on new research on the health effects of ozone pollution.   

In fact, the EPA says if adopted, the new rule could prevent as many as 4,300 premature deaths nationwide in the next decade. But it has been met with controversy. Republicans and business groups say the positive health benefits are outweighed by the cost of complying with the new rule, some have gone as far as to call it “nearly impossible.”

Lexey Swall

Last month, the editors of Time Magazine featured an online piece about the community which they say has the worst air in the nation - Bakersfield.

California Department of Public Health

 

After 6 years, the state of California has approved the expansion of a toxic waste landfill near Kettleman City. The decision will allow the landfill to expand by 50%, or 5 million cubic yards, which owners at Waste Management Incorporated estimate will last about 8 years.

Jim Marxen is a spokesperson for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we talk about a new ranking of environmental health in California that shows many Fresno County neighborhoods rank among the worst in the state, drought on the farm, the Armenian Genocide and Kessab Armenians, plus a look at Fresno's Historic Preservation Week

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

Last week, the state of California released a new interactive online map that lets you look at how environmentally burdened your neighborhood is compared to the rest of the state. The tool, called CalEnviroScreen 2.0 combines both data on pollution sources and the demographics of a community, including poverty, unemployment and linguistic isolation to compute a score that reflects a community’s overall environmental burden.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

A new ranking of environmental health in California shows that many Fresno County neighborhoods rank among the worst in the state when it comes to pollution.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's CalEnviroScreen 2.0 database examines how the state's approximately 8,000 census tracts rank on a variety of indicators in two major areas: pollution exposure and socioeconomic factors that increase vulnerability to pollution. The database combines the two to give each tract a score.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Despite the rains of the past weekend, California’s drought is still a huge problem for communities up and down the state. While many towns in the Valley are bracing for the economic impact of the drought, and the resulting loss of farm jobs, the community of Orange Cove also has to contend with concerns about its water supply.

Mayor Gabriel Jimenez says that while the city has five municipal wells to draw water from the aquifer, they can't be used due to nitrate pollution.

"Now our wells are shutdown, we're 100 percent dependent of surface water," says Jimenez. 

K. West / California National Primate Research Center

A new study suggests that exposure to wildfire smoke can result in reduced immune system function. The study, funded by the California Air Resources board, looked at primates which were exposed to unusually high levels of fine particulate matter or PM2.5 for 10 days in 2008, during a number of wildfires.

California's Toxic Waste Control Department Tries to Clean Itself Up

Nov 4, 2013
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Californians produce two million tons of hazardous waste every year. And the department that manages that waste has faced criticism for the way it operates. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on the department’s efforts to clean up its act.

When a business is dealing with toxic waste in what’s considered a potentially risky way it must get a permit from California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control. There are currently 118 permitted facilities in the state that treat, store or dispose of toxic waste.

California Proposes Lower Threshold for Carcinogenic Substance in Drinking Water

Aug 23, 2013
Valley Public Radio

California health officials propose to lower the limits of a heavy-metal often found in drinking water. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The California Department of Public Health proposes a regulation that would reduce the allowable level of ‘chromium-6’ in water to five times less than it is now. 

Chromium-six is carcinogenic. The substance is both naturally occurring, and leaks into the water supply from industrial hazardous waste areas.

Valley Air District to Issue Air Alert Monday

Aug 16, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has announced that it intends to issue an "Air Alert" early next week. The alert will begin Monday August 19th and continue through Wednesday August 21st. 

This district is urging residents to take steps that can reduce the amount of ozone pollution, and prevent a potential violation of the 1-hour ozone standard. In addition to health risks posed by ozone pollution, violating the standard could also result in a $29 million federal penalty.

Bill to Increase Air Pollution Fines Moves Forward

Aug 13, 2013
Valley Public Radio

A bill that would increase fines for big air polluters in California is now headed to the Assembly floor. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it was drafted in response to the Chevron oil refinery fire in Richmond last year.

The Chevron oil refinery fire forced 15,000 people to seek medical help. Under current law such a violation would result in a $10,000 fine. Democratic Senator Loni Hancock says the legislation she’s authored would increase the fine to $100,000.

Fight Over Alleged Radioactive Waste Involves Kern County Landfills

Aug 7, 2013

Consumer Watchdog and other environmental groups have filed suit against Boeing and the California Department of Toxic Substance Control over what they claim is the illegal disposal of low-level radioactive waste from a retired Boeing facility in Ventura County.

The groups allege that the demolition of potentially contaminated buildings at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory near Simi Valley is a threat to public health, and a violation of the state’s environmental laws.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency says California is violating the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA says the state’s Department of Public Health has failed to spend nearly a $500 million in federal money to provide safe drinking water. It’s estimated the state will have to spend $40 billion over the next two decades to fix the problem.  As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, some lawmakers are outraged by what they see as a bureaucratic nightmare within the Department.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

More than 600 communities in California rely on contaminated groundwater. Nowhere is the problem more acute than in the Tulare Lake Basin and the Salinas Valley.  It’s estimated that a quarter of a million people there rely on groundwater contaminated with nitrates, including some of the poorest people in the state. In the first of two stories, Amy Quinton reports on how one community struggles to deal with the problem. 

Pages