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California reconsiders safety of wastewater crop irrigation

California authorities are gearing up to scrutinize the effects of long-term use of petroleum operations wastewater in the irrigation of the state’s produce crops. This contentious issue has supporters and detractors on both sides, as the issues of water safety and water scarcity have come front and center for many communities nationwide.

As it stands, four major petroleum companies contribute the wastewater from their operations to California crop irrigation. It is worth noting that prior to use in food crop irrigation, the wastewater is treated for contamination. Still, there is a mountain of precedent for large companies placing corporate profits over citizen safety, as current health scares such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan illustrate in frightening detail.

While supporters of wastewater irrigation claim that using the otherwise troublesome water for crops provides solutions for both the oil companies and the farmers, many of whom are in dire straits when it comes to water availability.

Advocates of re-examinations and tighter regulations counterclaim that the wastewater cannot be trusted to be free of toxic substances, which may be encourage some forms of cancer and reproductive dysfunction. If their fears are found to be grounded, the fallout could be enormous. California is one of the largest agricultural producers in the country, supplying fresh produce for a huge percentage of the country, and possibly spreading potentially lethal contaminants nationwide in the process.

While these fears are still unconfirmed, they point to some of the most troubling realities of the modern world — that safety is a more complex and difficult issue than anyone wants to believe. Still, when a product is found to be harmful, those who have suffered losses because of it deserve to see justice. If you have been the victim of a harmful product, the guidance of an experienced product liability attorney can help you explore your options as you pursue a fair remedy.

Source: Capitol Public Radio, “California Regulators Examine Safety Of Food Irrigated With Oil Wastewater,” Amy Quinton, Oct. 27, 2016

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