2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 7 Jan 2003 20:14:27 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Rocket fuel pollution strains water supplies, prompts health fears
Rocket fuel pollution strains water supplies, prompts health fears
ANDREW BRIDGES, AP Science Writer   Sunday, January 5, 2003

(01-05) 22:31 PST LOS ANGELES (AP) --

A toxic chemical used to fuel Cold War-era missiles and the rockets that
put man on the moon has left a legacy of contamination across the
Southwest, where it pinches the region's already tight supply of
drinking water.

The chemical, called perchlorate, pollutes much of the lower Colorado
River -- the main water source for 20 million people across the
Southwest -- and has forced the shutdown of hundreds of wells in

State and federal officials are still debating how much risk perchlorate
poses when ingested and what limits should be set for the chemical, a
process slowed partly by lawsuits filed by defense contractors such as
Lockheed Martin Corp. that worry they could be on the hook for billions
of dollars in cleanup costs.

Thousands of people have sued the companies that once made or handled
perchlorate, alleging years of drinking water laced with the chemical
have caused cancers and other illnesses.

Adrienne Wise-Tates, 46, has had tumors of the brain and ovaries,
multiple cysts in her breasts, cancerous cells found when she had a
goiter removed and, most recently, an unknown mass in her left kidney.

The mother of three blames the perchlorate-tainted water she drank while
growing up in Redlands. There, 70 miles east of Los Angeles, nearly
1,000 people are suing Lockheed Martin over perchlorate pollution
associated with a former rocket engine testing facility that closed in
the 1970s.

"I played in the water, drank the water, everything. The normal things a
child does," Wise-Tates said. "Since it was so much in this area, in the
water, that's what I attribute it to."

Lockheed spokeswoman Gail Rymer said the company is "vigorously"
defending itself against the claims.

"We do not feel that anyone was harmed or has been made ill as a result
of our operations at the former Lockheed Propulsion Co. site," Rymer

The oxygen-rich chemical interferes with the way the body takes iodide
into the thyroid and can disrupt how the gland regulates metabolism.
It's unclear how much is dangerous.

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