Wednesday, Oct 15, 2008
The EPA has apparently decided that it is not necessary to remove from our drinking water a toxic rocket fuel ingredient that has been found in public water supplies in the United States. The EPA reached this conclusion in a draft regulatory document that has not yet been released to the public.
The ingredient is called perchlorate and has been found in at least 395 sites in 35 states. The levels it is being found at could interfere with thyroid function and might also pose developmental health risks, especially for babies and fetuses, according to some scientists.
The EPA has stated that requiring a cleanup to remove perchlorate would not result in a “meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public-water systems.” This conclusion was denounced by Democrats and environmentalist groups, who are accusing the EPA of giving in to pressure from the Pentagon.
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The Defense Department has utilized perchlorate for years in their testing of missiles and rockets. Most perchlorate contamination comes as a result of defense and aerospace testing activities. The Pentagon could be found liable if only the EPA would set a national drinking water standard that would force water agencies throughout the US to participate in and complete cleanup efforts. Defense officials have spent years questioning the EPA’s conclusions about the risks associated with perchlorate.
The Pentagon has objected strenuously to the suggestion that it tried to influence the EPA’s decision. They state that they have not intervened in any EPA determinations for perchlorate regulation.
Apparently the Pentagon has been working for years to clean up perchlorate from its facilities. The Pentagon also suggests that they are not the source of as much perchlorate contamination as was once believed. Perchlorate contamination also comes from fireworks, road flares, and fertilizer.
They do admit, however, that perchlorate in drinking water presents a certain degree of risk. They also state that they are committed to working with states and scientists to ensure that public health is protected and that important opportunities for reducing these risks are utilized.
The EPA expects to seek comment and take any final actions before the end of the year.
Perchlorate is especially widespread in California and other areas of the Southwest. It has been found in groundwater is these areas as well as in the Colorado River. The Colorado River is a drinking-water source for approximately 20 million people. Perchlorate has also been found in lettuce and certain other foods.
Because of a lack of federal action, some states have decided to act on their own. California adopted a drinking water standard of 6 parts per billion in 2007. Massachusetts has designated a drinking water standard of 2 parts per billion.
This article was posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 4:00 am