Residents in Puerto Rico are so desperate for water they’re drinking from toxic superfund sites

Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, as relief efforts on the part of the government have either been slow or hampered by President Donald Trump. And now, the troubling effects of those delays are becoming clear.

According to a press release from the Environmental Protection Agency, people in Puerto Rico have started drinking water from hazardous waste sites.

Yes. American citizens are sourcing their drinking water from the 23 Superfund sites across Puerto Rico as  nearly half of all Puerto Ricans still lack access to clean drinking water.

“There are reports of residents obtaining, or trying to obtain, drinking water from wells at hazardous waste ‘Superfund’ sites in Puerto Rico. EPA advises against tampering with sealed and locked wells or drinking from these wells, as it may be dangerous to people’s health,” the EPA’s press release said.

“EPA has collaborated with FEMA and the Department of Defense on a video documenting our drinking water assessment teams’ work. The video shows EPA teams at sites in Caguas and Yabucoa, Puerto Rico that are without power and need generators to get up and running. EPA is working with FEMA and local municipalities to get the drinking water wells functioning.”

The news comes as the FBI is reportedly investigating claims that local government officials in Puerto Rico are not equally distributing relief goods. Reuters demonstrated how poorly the Trump administration has worked to restore power and other essential infrastructure.

And based on the EPA’s statement, full relief is urgently needed in Puerto Rico.

“Raw sewage continues to be released into waterways and is expected to continue until repairs can be made and power is restored,” the press release read. “Water contaminated with livestock waste, human sewage, chemicals, and other contaminants can lead to illness when used for drinking, bathing, and other hygiene activities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people should not use the water from rivers, streams and coastal water to drink, bathe, wash, or to cook with unless first boiling this water for a minimum of one minute.”