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Toxic Chemicals May Contaminate Oil Field Wastewater Used to Grow Calif. Crops

Toxic Chemicals May Contaminate Oil Field Wastewater Used to Grow Calif. Crops

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

By Tasha Stoiber, Senior Scientist

Toxic Chemicals May Contaminate Oil Field Wastewater Used to Grow Calif. Crops

In the last three years, farmers in parts of California's Central Valley have irrigated 95,000 acres of food crops with billions of gallons of oil field wastewater possibly tainted with toxic chemicals, including chemicals that can cause cancer and reproductive harm, according to an EWG analysis of state data.

Oil companies reported more than 20 million pounds and 2 million gallons of dozens of toxic chemicals in recycled wastewater sold to Kern County irrigation districts since 2014, including 16 chemicals the state classifies as cancer-causing or reproductive toxicants. Levels of the chemicals were not measured.

Kern County farmers have irrigated crops with oil field wastewater for four decades or longer, but these recently released reports provide the first detailed look at the makeup of the toxic cocktail that could be lurking in the water. However, a full assessment is impossible because companies withheld the identity of almost 40 percent of the chemicals as so-called trade secrets.

Click here to read the full report

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