Toxic Imperial Valley

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In the burning fields of Southern California’s Imperial Valley, the honey bee population is dying, and so are millions of fish in the Salton Sea. Meanwhile, the squatters of Slab City try to live off the grid and hold on to what’s left of the American Wild West. VBS travels to this apocalyptic landscape.

Welcome to the graveyard of the American Dream. Imperial Valley was once a place of aspiration and easy living, but decades later it is left to some unique residents to carve out an existence amid the desolate landscape. The air and the water in Southern California’s Imperial Valley are clogged with poison. Once advertised as the birthplace of a bright new future, offering ‘all that your children’s children will want’, Salton City is now crumbling into the apocalyptic landscape that surrounds it. Local resident Ernie gives us a unique insight into life in this devastated region.

As farmers burn their fields, and the honey bee population dwindles, scum floats like little icebergs up the most polluted river in North America, which carries raw sewage, pesticides and factory waste from Mexico into the once-beautiful Salton Sea. The military carry out controlled explosions on the plains, while the squatters of Slab City scrape together a life for themselves off the grid. Mexicans seeking a better life wade their way across to the US bank, our guide tells us, “’cause they have it so bad over there, they don’t even care. Sometimes people just die in here in the water. Just like that.” A film by Vice Media Inc. Distributed by Journeyman Pictures

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