September 26, 2010 - Hilmar Cheese Co., one of the world's largest cheese producers, is responsible for spoiling neighbors' drinking water wells, new documents show.
For two decades, the cheese factory midway between Sacramento and Fresno has battled state pollution regulators, and this year it won permission to increase the amount of salty, mineral-rich wastewater dumped on surrounding fields.
Now, much of the well water isn't fit to drink. State officials say the company is the likely culprit in ruining at least 18 wells in and around Hilmar. High in nitrates, arsenic, barium and salts, the well water tastes bad and violates federal health standards.