Thanks to the support of our local members who wrote letters to their County Supervisors, San Francisco has passed an ordinance requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay for and implement convenient programs for consumers to dispose of unused and out of date medications. Special thanks also goes to Supervisor London Breed, who led the fight to get the ordinance passed, and the staff at the Department of the Environment who will be implementing the new law.
In late March, Mayor Ed Lee signed the ordinance into law. This victory for San Francisco Bay and public safety comes on the heels of a 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals decision upholding a similar ordinance adopted by Alameda County in 2012 against an industry attack. Not surprisingly, the industry opposed a new ordinance in San Francisco despite the fact that when companies band together and support proper disposal – like they do in Canada – it costs so little per bottle, they haven’t raised drug prices.
Clean Water Action has released a new report exposing the threats to air and water from oil wastewater disposal into open-air and unlined pits. Across the Central Valley of California, already the home of severe water shortages, degraded groundwater and the worst air quality in the country, Big Oil is dumping wastewater containing a mixture of harmful chemicals, including volatile organic compounds and heavy metals, into unlined and open-air pits. These pits are designed both to percolate the toxic wastewater into the ground and evaporate it into the air. California water and air regulators have allowed this form of waste disposal despite the fact that they are aware that many of these operations have inadequate and severely out of date permits, and that some are creating huge underground plumes of wastewater that threaten nearby drinking and irrigation water.
Pharmaceuticals are detected in waterbodies such as San Francisco Bay, as well as drinking water sources. These chemicals are linked to serious impacts a aquatic wildlife, including reproductive harm, feminization of species, behavioral changes, and even death. Part of the problem is improper disposal, such as flushing unused drugs down the toilet or putting them in the trash. Either way, they end up in the waste system and are making their way into our water.
And come to the Board of Supervisors Hearing on April 14th at 1:30. Click here for more information.