This story was originally published on ProPublica.
California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil
and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the
state's drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may
have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking
water aquifers there.
The state's Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources on July 7
issued cease and desist orders to seven energy companies warning that
they may be injecting their waste into aquifers that could be a source
of drinking water, and stating that their waste disposal "poses danger
to life, health, property, and natural resources." The orders were first reported
by the Bakersfield Californian, and the state has confirmed with
ProPublica that its investigation is expanding to look at additional
The action comes as California's agriculture industry copes with a
drought crisis that has emptied reservoirs and cost the state $2.2
billion this year alone. The lack of water has forced farmers across the
state to supplement their water supply from underground aquifers, according to a study released this week by the University of California Davis.
The problem is that at least 100 of the state's aquifers were
presumed to be useless for drinking and farming because the water was
either of poor quality, or too deep underground to easily access.