Offshore "fracking" rigs along southern California's Pacific coast are dumping billions of gallons of toxic wastewater into the ocean, and the federal government has given them the green light.
The wastewater contains toxic chemicals, like methanol, benzene, naphthalene, and trimethylbenzene, and under the permits granted to rig operators by the EPA, they're allowed to dump enough of it directly into the Pacific Ocean to fill over 100 football stadiums each year.
Local media has reported that at least half of California's offshore rigs pump wastewater directly into the Santa Barbara Channel, a major shipping lane which is also a popular site for whale watching.
The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a petition with the EPA, asking them to put a stop to direct disposal of wastewater into the Pacific.
CBD director, Miyoko Sakashita, denounced the practice in a press release accompanying the petition.
It's disgusting that oil companies dump wastewater into California's ocean, You can see the rigs from shore, but the contaminated waters are hidden from view. Our goal is to make sure toxic fracking chemicals don't poison wildlife or end up in the food chain...
Under current regulations, the EPA does require the oil and gas companies that use offshore fracking rigs to report the chemical makeup of the fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, and the volume of fluid used.
But like many Californians, Sakashita was unaware that the EPA had quitely approved multiple offshore fracking rigs until an investigative report made it widely known in summer of 2013. He believes that, ultimately, offshore fracking should be banned outright.
It came as a complete surprise to learn that oil companies are fracking in waters off the coast where I let my kids swim and play. The toxic chemicals used for offshore fracking don't belong in the ocean, and the best way to protect our coast is to ban fracking altogether.