Ruiz Calls for Investigation into Southern California BIA’s Handling of Situation at Oasis Mobile Home Park
PALM DESERT – Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., CA-36, , has called for an investigation into the handling of the ongoing situation at Oasis Mobile Home Park (OMHP) by the Southern California Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
Since August 2019, the Oasis Mobile Home Park in Thermal has been under an Emergency Order from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after arsenic levels nine-times the legal limit were found in the drinking water system.
In the fall of 2019, a mulch fire burned at an unpermitted green recycling facility on Tribal land in the Eastern Coachella Valley for over two weeks. The smoke from the fire sickened local school children and forced the closure of many Coachella Valley Unified School District schools for over a week. Local BIA officials had been aware of the unpermitted waste facility located on Tribal land for nearly five years and failed to take the appropriate steps to stop the trespassing business, only taking action after repeated requests from Congressman Ruiz.
High levels of arsenic were found in the Oasis Mobile Home Park drinking water system by the EPA in August 2019, posing a significant health risk to the residents. On August 28, 2019, the EPA issued an emergency order to the Oasis Mobile Home Park owner to provide one gallon of water per resident per day at no cost to the residents. For the past year, the Oasis Mobile Home Park, located on Tribal land, has faced repeated EPA violations for high levels of arsenic in drinking water.
In an October 2019 meeting convened by Congressman Ruiz with officials from the BIA, EPA, and Riverside County, BIA representatives told Congressman Ruiz the BIA did not have jurisdiction to protect the residents from unsafe living conditions, including the drinking water violations. However, those same representatives recently indicated that they had been working with OMHP as far back as 2007, when during a visit they found multiple deficiencies and risk factors present in the wells and water distribution systems.
“I am concerned the BIA may have allowed the OMHP to operate without a lease for at least fifteen years, subjecting residents to unsafe and unhealthy living conditions,” said Dr. Ruiz. “It is unclear to me how the Southern California BIA Office can reasonably state that OMHP ownership is working to come into compliance when clear violations and substandard conditions have existed for well over a decade. In an effort to appropriately address this issue, I am requesting a full accounting of the BIA’s interactions and oversight of the Oasis Mobile Home Park.”
You can read the full text of the letter here.
- Raul Ruiz: Raul Ruiz
- Potable water trailers: CVWD