Shedding Light in the Darkness

Lead in U.S. Water Coverup


The Guardian has an article by Erin Brockovich, who was profiled in an Oscar winning movie, about a coverup in water testing in American cities. “The worst sense of security is a false one,” she writes. “It’s hard for people to wrap their heads around the idea that those in charge – federal, state and local agencies – might be cheating the system. But, all too often, that is exactly what happens.

“The Guardian has found that 33 cities east of the Mississippi river used water testing methods that the EPA has said underestimate how much lead is present. And in two states, water departments were encouraged to test water early – so that if they received bad results they could re-sample.

“Transparency is sorely lacking in the system. Information in municipal water reports often gets changed or redacted because people have an “oh shit” moment. Water utility managers fear they might lose their job if levels come back too high. Sometimes they are motivated by greed and ineptitude. Other times, their actions are simply the result of working for agencies that are over-burdened and under-staffed.

“When I discovered that hexavalent chromium was causing cancer in the town of Hinkley, California, it lead to residents being paid $333m in compensation. But, unbelievably, that chemical remains in our drinking water.

“People have had enough of business as usual. Just look at this election. Countless Americans are calling out the government for its secrecy and repeated failures. They are frustrated with the status quo and are mobilizing on social media to bring about change.

“Things will only improve when the people – all of us – say to authorities: I will hold you responsible. We should all be showing up at city council meetings, lighting up every community with activism and mobilization.

“It is deeply ironic that water, which sustains life, now takes lives away. It needn’t be this way. This cheating is only going to stop when all of us speak up, speak out and are proactive. In Hinkley, I watched people rise up against a massive utility company and win. We can do that again. It’s about your health, your family’s health – and your right to have safe water. We can’t let history repeat itself. We need change now.”

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