According to a newly published CNN report, water from a federally designated hazardous-waste site has been distributed to desperate Puerto Ricans by water authorities in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
According to statistics published by the Puerto Rican government, 63.20% of the population has access to safe drinking water.
The Puerto Rican government has issued a request for funds to assist in repairing Puerto Rico's infrastructure. According to the Electric Power Authority (AEE), 9% of the island's electric grid remains intact.
CNN´s report continues that several of their journalists witnessed workers from the Puerto Rican water utility, Water and Sewage Authority (AAA), distributing water originating from a well at the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Site, a federally designated contamination site under the Superfund program.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated in a Superfund report that 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."
Superfund is a United States federal government program that was instituted to fund the cleanup of hazardous sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). Superfund sites are designated by the EPA as sites that “pose a risk to human health and/or the environment.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has been an outspoken critic of the EPA, as a notorious climate change denier.
Trump's proposed federal budget would cut funding to the EPA drastically, with the Superfund program alone being dealt a 31% fund reduction.
The Superfund program was initially funded by taxes on corporations that contaminate the environment, taxes on industrial chemicals, and crude oil production. However, these taxes expired in 1995. During both Democratic and Republican administrations, funding to the Superfund program has gradually dropped.
However, Trump's proposed budget would mark the most drastic reduction of funds to the EPA since it's founding.
Testing of the Dorado site has been scheduled by the EPA as it remains clear if this particular water source is contaminated with the dangerous chemicals.
Regional EPA spokesman Elias Rodriguez confirmed the location is part of a Superfund site.
"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. "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."
Residents continue to drink the possibly contaminated water despite these reports as a result of Puerto Rico's dire humanitarian crisis.