2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 16 Dec 2002 15:09:13 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Perchlorate Runoff Flows To Water Supply of Millions
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Perchlorate Runoff Flows To Water Supply of Millions
A Fuel of Cold War Defenses Now Ignites Health Controversy

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. -- For years, Greg and Doris Voetsch felt they
were living a suburban dream here on the banks of the American River.

Just 15 miles from downtown Sacramento, they raised four kids on
homegrown cherries, pears, cucumbers and string beans, along with salmon
and rainbow trout caught in the Sierra-fed waters flowing just beyond
their back door. Mr. Voetsch, a landscaper, used tobacco juice, instead
of pesticides, to keep the aphids at bay. Snow-melt was their
air-conditioning, cooling the hot summer breezes. The cost of living was
"almost nothing," Mr. Voetsch says.

But trouble seeped into their paradise. In 1983, 13 years after the
family moved here, surgeons removed two tumors, each of a different type
of cancer, from Mr. Voetsch's thyroid gland. Shortly after, his two
older daughters, both in their 20s at the time, had surgery to treat
thyroid-related problems. Last year, his 67-year-old wife, who has had
thyroid trouble for years, had a benign brain tumor removed. The
couple's daughter-in-law, who grew up nearby, also has thyroid problems.
Her son -- the Voetsches' grandson -- is autistic.

Five years ago, the Voetsches learned that the home they bought in 1970
lies on the edge of a so-called plume of underground water polluted with
waste from a nearby missile factory. Among the chemicals found in local
drinking wells is perchlorate, the main ingredient of solid rocket fuel
and a known toxin. The Voetsches believe it was in their water and, they
suspect, their garden soil. "We lived off the land and never thought
twice about it," Mr. Voetsch says.

In the human body, perchlorate affects production of thyroid hormones --
a phenomenon that the Environmental Protection Agency says can cause
thyroid ailments such as Graves' disease and cancer in adults. Fetuses
and newborns, the EPA says, are at even greater risk, susceptible to
neurological and other developmental damage.

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