Rising sea levels may flood California’s coastal toxic sites

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The U.S. Naval Air Weapons Station at Point Mugu, California is one site at risk of flooding by the end of the century, according to the “Toxic Tides” mapping project. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense/Public Domain.

More than 400 sites along California’s coastline are in danger of flooding this century — as identified on a map called “Toxic Tides” by UCLA and UC Berkeley researchers. If these locations do flood, they could release industrial chemicals, military toxins, and nuclear waste. Many of them are located in and around predominantly Black and Brown communities.

“We found that statewide, disadvantaged communities were over six times more likely to live within a kilometer of one of these at-risk facilities by the end of the century. So the risks here are not equally distributed across the population,” says Lara Cushing, who teaches environmental health sciences at UCLA and helped research the “Toxic Tides” project.

Other at-risk sites include the Valero Wilmington oil refinery, the Naval Base at Point Mugu, the Santa Barbara Wastewater Plant, and several oil and gas wells in Long Beach and Newport Beach.

Credits

Guest:

  • Lara Cushing - Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health