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Water being provided to some residents of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria is being pumped to them from a federally designated hazardous waste site, CNN reported. CNN reported that evidence to support its claim came from Superfund documents and from interviews with federal and local officials on the island.
Resident Jose Luis Rodriguez, 66, is so desperate for water that this news didn't startle him.
"I don't have a choice," he told CNN. "This is the only option I have."
More than three weeks after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, more than 35 percent of the island’s residents remain without safe drinking water, CNN reported.
On Friday, workers from the Puerto Rican water utility, Autoridad de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, distributed water from a well at the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Site, which was listed in 2016 as part of the federal Superfund program for hazardous waste cleanup.
In announcing the addition of the Dorado site to the Superfund program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says 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," according to the EPA, which said it plans to do testing in the area over during the weekend..
"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 on Friday. "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."
Regional EPA spokesman Elias Rodriguez confirmed the location is part of a Superfund site, CNN reported.