Chemical linked to cancer found in Arvin water

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-22 08:29:18-04
Arvin residents have been dealing with water contamination for years, but now - some hope may be on the way.
23ABC’s Adam Bowles went to Arvin today to find out what’s being done about a chemical in the soil linked to cancer. 
Officials say this has been going on for decades here in Arvin, California.  Something in the water could have long term effects on your health which could be linked to cancer.
Alejandro Villanueva says he lives in a town where most people are from low income backgrounds.
"To buy water it cost us 15-20 dollars a week," Villanueva says.  "That’s almost 60 dollars a month and they’re charging us for a service that isn’t working."
He comes to the Kern County Library in Arvin to drink clean water because something about his water isn’t right.
"It has a very bad smell, and if you taste it, it tastes like chemicals, like water from a lab," Alejandro says.
First, it was arsenic in the water, now wells all over Arvin found to be tainted with a substance called 1,2,3 TCP which was tested by the state to be linked to cancer.  Alejandro is only surviving on bottled water from the store, while still paying the bill for the poisoned water.
"When I've gone to pay my water bill, I asked them about the quality of the water and they tell me that everything is fine, that we can drink it," Alejandro says.  "So I ask them ‘Why don’t you go drink it’ and they don’t.
The children in Arvin also suffer.
"My mom, she boils water and to shower we just use the same water I guess.  I don’t know what else to do about it."  
She didn’t even know about the TCP found in the already poisonous water.
"That’s not a good sign and knowing that a lot of kids live in this town, that is not something we should be known for,"  Magali Lucas says. 
Known for what officials say is garbage in their water that was added long ago.
It’s something the general manager of the Arvin Community Services District is keeping a close eye on.
"1,2,3 TCP was a chemical that DOW chemical and Shell Oil used in some of their fumigants that they had back in the 50’s and 60’s and during this time some of their scientists realized that this was basically and this was their words, a garbage ingredient and an easy way for them to dispose of it was to put them in this pesticide that is being sprayed up and down the State of California," Raul Barraza says.
"While DOW and Shell Oil removed the chemical in the 1980’s, the chemical still sits in the soil and it could stretch well beyond the boundaries of Arvin.
"I think everybody in the central valley is affected by it, and all our families are affected by it.  Everybody in the central valley is affected by it," Raul says.
On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board voted unanimously to implement a maximum level of 1-2-3 TCP in the drinking water.  In the meantime, Arvin officials have until early 2019 to fix the city’s problem with arsenic in the water.