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Puerto Rico's drinking water may be the most contaminated in the U.S., a top Republican suggested at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Tuesday morning where contaminated well water in the wake of Hurricane Maria was a major topic.
"In Puerto Rico, Hurricanes Irma and Maria uncovered the intensified issues associated with aging and inefficient energy infrastructure, contaminated sites that are rapidly multiplying, landfills that are already overflowing, and possibly the most contaminated drinking water supply in the United States,” said Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., the chairman of the committee’s environment panel, who led Tuesday's hearing on environmental effects from the storms.
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"Residents across the island are still without power and a reliable source of drinking water," he said. "Many are drinking potentially contaminated water because water purification systems have largely failed because of the storm."
He noted that citizens in the municipality of Dorado have been forced to drink well water at a toxic Superfund clean-up site overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency has warned citizens not to, but the lack of fresh water on the island has driven residents to take the risk.
Fact - EPA - Well - Water - Drinking
After the fact, the EPA determined that the well water met minimum safe drinking water standards.
The House hearing was part of a series the energy committee is holding to examine the hurricane response effort, while looking at what Congress can do to help Puerto Rico and the states hit by this year’s devastating storms. Shimkus said the hearing would inform possible legislation required to respond to environmental concerns in the aftermath of the storms.
Shimkus - Drinking - Water - Concerns - Hearing
Shimkus raised the drinking water concerns in opening the hearing, which featured a number of EPA regional office chiefs who have overseen the environmental response on hurricane-ravaged states and territories.
Rep. Paul Tonko of New York, the top Democrat on the environment panel, also...
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