Arsenic Illegally Released into California’s Groundwater
A natural gas-fired power plant in Yuba City, Calif., failed to minimize releases of hazardous waste into the environment
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fined a natural gas-fired power plant $13,500 for improper management of hazardous waste. According to EPA, the plant, located in Yuba City, Calif., generated arsenic from the treatment of wastewater and failed to minimize releases of hazardous waste to the environment.
Arsenic occurs naturally in the local groundwater, which the plant uses in its daily operations. The agency discovered that the facility produced arsenic from the treatment of wastewater, but it “allowed federally regulated levels of arsenic to be released to the environment, potentially exposing its workers to hazardous waste.”
Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, all hazardous substances must be stored, handled and disposed of using procedures that protect the environment and public health.
Since the investigation, the corporation responsible for the California plant “has put in place cost-effective engineering controls to minimize further releases of arsenic. The facility implemented initial correction measures immediately after the inspection, and a year later installed a more permanent barrier to confine the arsenic,” according to an EPA press release.
“Arsenic has different forms—organic and inorganic—and the inorganic form is far more dangerous than the organic one,” said Michael Chapman, chemical laboratory manager for LA Testing Inc.