“Wildfires: Torched Towns Beset By Poisoned Water”

“After a wildfire ripped through central California last month, residents in the Riverside Grove neighborhood in the Santa Cruz Mountains discovered another danger: contaminated water coursing through their pipes.

Benzene, a chemical tied to cancer, leukemia and anemia, was detected in the town's drinking water after 7 miles of plastic water piping was torched in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire south of San Francisco. Plastic pipes are used for their flexibility in earthquake-prone California. Today, about 450 homes there remain under a “do not drink” advisory.

Riverside Grove is one of three fire-damaged areas in California where benzene has been detected so far in the latest round of historic wildfires, said Dan Newton, the assistant deputy director of California field operations within the Water Resources Control Board's Division of Drinking Water.”

Hannah Northey reports for E&E News September 23, 2020.