Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz condemned the bad practices at a mobile home park that was recently issued an emergency order by the EPA for contaminated water.
On Aug. 28, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced high arsenic levels were found in the drinking water at the Oasis Mobile Home Park on the Torres Martinez Tribe’s lands near Thermal.
According to the EPA, arsenic has been linked to numerous kinds of cancers. This includes cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate. Non-cancer effects can include thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, numbness in hands and feet, partial paralysis, and blindness.
Residents of the mobile home park told News Channel 3 there’s a concern that some children in the community showed symptoms that match those of arsenic poisoning.
Ruiz called for immediate action to fix the bad practices in the community during a problem-solving roundtable with representatives Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, and other county and state officials.
“I am outraged by reports from residents that the Oasis Mobile Home Park owner is severely restricting residents’ access to clean water by only allowing the leaseholder to collect water on behalf of their family within restrictive timeframes on weekdays and weekends,” Ruiz said.
The EPA ordered the owners of the mobile home park to provide residents with at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day for each individual while the water system is being fixed. Residents tell News Channel 3 they are being required to pay $100 for that clean water.
“Residents are being threatened with eviction if they don’t pay the sudden 30% rent increase,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz continued denouncing the practices at the park, expressing concern over false claims by park management that the water was safe to consume.
“Most concerning is that Oasis Mobile Home Park management has posted false claims that their water is safe to drink, violating EPA orders and putting residents’ health at risk. I’m calling on Oasis Mobile Home Park to do the right thing, eliminate restrictions, and provide undeterred access to clean drinking water. These disturbing practices must end immediately,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz said residents should not consider their water safe for drinking unless directly communicated by the EPA. “Unofficial notices by the park owner should not be considered accurate or reliable,” reads a statement from Ruiz’s said.
Although the community is in the Torres Martinez Tribe land, the tribe has no direct control or ownership of the water system, according to the EPA. The tribe was consulted about the violations, however.
The contaminated water system serves approximately 1,900 residents.