This segment originally aired March 15, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
California has formally begun a process that could regulate a chemical carcinogen called TCP, which has been linked to cancer for more than two decades.
About 25 years ago, the state determined that 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP) was linked to cancer, but never took steps to take the chemical out of the water supply. And neither the state of California nor the EPA regulates TCP, so many Californians don’t know if the dangerous chemical is in their drinking water.
In response, more than 40 water districts in California have brought lawsuits against Dow and Shell, the manufacturers of pesticides that produce the chemical, alleging that the companies knowingly contaminated the state’s water supplies with the carcinogen TCP and should pay to clean it up. The trial will determine who pays the $18.5 million cost to clean up the water, the companies or the town.
VICE News recently visited a small farming community in Del Rey, home to one of the water districts participating in the lawsuit which has an astonishing level of TCP in the water. The California State Water Resources Board is set to vote soon on a proposition that would require all of the states water to contain less than five parts per trillion (ppt) of TCP; Del Ray’s water levels have tested ten times higher than that level.