400+ Toxic Sites in CA Pose Serious Flood & Health Concerns Due to Climate Change

Flood-prone toxic sites threaten Californians

Rising ocean levels aren't just destructive -- they could also be toxic. A new California statewide mapping project, Toxic Tides, found that if climate change continues to worsen, the sea will rise more than three feet by 2100, potentially flooding 400+ hazardous facilities and releasing toxic chemicals into neighboring communities.

Why This Matters

Most facilities working with toxic chemicals -- naval bases, ports, oil wells, packaging plants, landfills, power plants, etc. -- are located near low-income communities of color. These communities are over five times more likely to be within a half-mile of hazardous sights in 2050 and over six times more likely in 2100. The report emphasized that sea level rise is an environmental justice issue:

Because many of these facilities are disproportionately located in poor communities and communities of color, climate resilience strategies must address the disproportionate impacts of [sea level rise] and associated flooding threats faced by environmental justice communities.

Lara Cushing, a UCLA environmental scientist who worked on the Toxic Tides project, reinforced this notion in a conversation with the Los Angeles Times: "We know from past flood events that the wealthy communities are not the ones that suffer the greatest impacts. The vulnerabilities of environmental justice communities to sea level rise have not been front and center in the conversation in a way that it should be."

Taking Action On Sea Level Rise

Governor Gavin Newsom signed new legislation into law that can help avert sea level rise in California. Newsom also included $3.7 billion in the California Comeback Plan this year to address climate change-related issues, including sea level rise, according to his office.

State Senator Toni Atkins, the author of the bill, stated:

It's vital that we make key investments and changes to our planning strategies to account for this climate reality. It's critical that all communities, especially communities of color and disadvantaged communities, are given the tools, funding, and support they need to address this climate change issue.