2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 22 Nov 2002 17:44:01 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Re: [CPEO-MEF] New Perchlorate Policy
The Defense Department's new Perchlorate Assessment Policy, which I
believe Mr. Woodley formally signed on November 21, 2002, is a small
step forward, but it is more significant in what it doesn't promise.

First, by clearly authorizing perchlorate sampling, even in the absence
of officially promulgated cleanup standards or other regulatory drivers,
it allows installations to move forward with appropriate site
characterization. As I read it, however, this is not an improvement over
the draft policy CPEO posted in July.

In fact, by limiting such assessment to locations where "there is a
reasonable basis to suspect ... a pathway where [perchlorate] could
threaten public health," it ignores statutory requirements, in a number
of states, to protect groundwater resources even in the absence of
current beneficial use. 

While I wouldn't argue such resource protection deserves the high
priority that sites with likely or confirmed pathways require, early
plume definition may make it easier to control contamination cost
effectively at such lower priority sites. That is, the policy should
allow assessment even in the absence of a pathway. Furthermore, The
discovery of perchlorate at training ranges such as Camp Edwards (MA)
and Camp Stanton (MD) suggests that virtually any infantry or Marine
range may contain measurable levels of perchlorate contamination in soil
or groundwater, and the sooner that is recognized, the better.

Furthermore, the policy appears NOT to authorize cleanup of perchlorate
pollution once it is assessed. The July draft policy implied that
Defense installations could fund cleanup or treatment if regulators
ordered it, but the November policy is silent on the subject. That may
encourage installations to fight cleanup orders, even where statute
provides regulators with clear authority.

I expect the Army and Air Force, as well as military contractors who
expect to pass on their cleanup costs to the Pentagon, to resist
spending money on perchlorate cleanup until U.S. EPA and the states
legally promulgate cleanup goals, simply because nationally the bill is
likely to be in the billions of dollars. Meanwhile, the Defense
Department will oppose and delay the establishment of any stringent standard.

As I've stated before, this is shortsighted. Responsible parties could
design and even install extraction and treatment systems without
agreeing to the proposed cleanup goal. More often than not, the target
concentration will determine when action can stop, years from now, not
when, where, and how it is started.

Delay without site-specific justification would not only threaten to
expose the public to a health-threatening contaminant, but it would also
allow perchlorate to continue migrating, thus making it more costly and
difficult to address in the long run.


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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