YOUR GLOBAL RUNDOWN
- The United Kingdom government will not test drinking water sources for PFAS chemicals.
- A British court struck down a class-action lawsuit over a 2015 dam failure in Brazil.
- A new study links a childhood cancer cluster in a Massachusetts town with prenatal exposure in the 1990s to contaminated drinking water.
- Canada will begin collecting data on environmental hazards in minority communities.
Afghanistan will follow through on promises to give Iran its share of water from the Helmand River basin.
“We will honor our commitments. However, anything beyond the stipulated quota would require discussions.” – Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan. Voice of America reports that Afghanistan will give Iran its share of water under a 1973 treaty over the transboundary Helmand River, but additional requirements would come at a price. The treaty has never been implemented due to decades of political turmoil and war in Afghanistan, which decimated the country’s irrigation and hydropower infrastructure. The news comes as Afghanistan inaugurated the Kamal Khan Dam on the river. Iran had opposed the dam’s construction and operation, citing concerns over restricted water flow.
IN RECENT WATER NEWS
The 2014 Freedom Industries spill in West Virginia is one of many incidents detailed in a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report that is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the number, location, and characteristics of chemical and toxic spills into U.S. drinking water sources.
Using a combination of federal data sets covering the years between 2010 and 2019, the assessment found 3,931 incidents of toxic spills into groundwater, rivers, or lakes used for drinking water. The spills occurred in the vicinity of 15 percent of the country’s drinking water intakes that draw from surface water but in less than 1 percent of groundwater wells.
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UK Government Will Not Test Drinking Water For PFAS Chemicals
Despite international concern, the United Kingdom government will not test drinking water for PFAS, the Guardian reports. The U.K. Environment Agency said that it is unlikely that drinking water sources have avoided PFAS contamination, but the government has not announced plans to coordinate testing for the chemicals in drinking water. Private utilities have limited testing procedures, focusing mainly on two restricted PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS.
TODAY’S TOP WATER STORIES, TOLD IN NUMBERS
The English Court of Appeal refused to resurrect a $6.9 billion lawsuit against mining giant BHP over a 2015 dam failure in Brazil, Reuters reports. The Court of Appeal sided with a lower court that the Brazilian claimant group of nearly 200,000 people was an “abuse of process” and that claimants were already able to seek reparations in Brazil. The collapse of Fundao dam in 2015, considered one of Brazil’s worst environmental disasters, killed 19 people and sent a flood of mining waste into communities and waterways. The dam was part of a joint venture between BHP and Vale, a Brazilian mining company.
A new study from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that 22 cases of childhood cancer in the 1990s in the town of Wilmington can be linked to prenatal exposure to water contaminated with the industrial chemicals NDMA and TCE. The town’s water is no longer contaminated and officials said there is no evidence of increased odds of cancer for children exposed to chemicals during childhood.
ON THE RADAR
Canadian lawmakers voted to begin collecting data on the impact of polluting industries and landfills in areas populated by racial minorities, Reuters reports. The bill will target Indigenous, Black and other racial minority communities that have been exposed to higher levels of contaminated water and other pollutants. The bill’s sponsor, Lenore Zann of the Liberal Party, said the data will allow legislators to craft clear policy recommendations.
Jane writes The Stream and covers domestic and international water issues for Circle of Blue. She is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University, where she studied Multimedia Journalism and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. During her time at Grand Valley, she was the host of the Community Service Learning Center podcast Be the Change. Currently based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jane enjoys listening to music, reading and spending time outdoors.