2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: cpeo <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 24 Jan 2003 16:05:41 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Navy: toxics in homes not from ground
Publication Date: Friday, January 24, 2003
Navy: toxics in homes not from ground
Environmental health advocates question conclusion
By Gabe Friedman

The years-long saga to determine whether toxic gas is endangering
residents of a Moffett Field military housing complex took a new turn
last week as the Navy reported that there is no health hazard from
chemicals evaporating from underground.

But environmental advocates are skeptical of this conclusion; they point
out that even if it is not coming from ground water, the solvent
trichloroethene (TCE) -- which has been linked to cancer, lupus and
Parkinson's disease -- is present at high levels in and around homes in
the area, and could pose a serious health risk.

The contaminated houses are located in separate areas of Moffett Field
just north of Highway 101; they first came under scrutiny in 1999, when
TCE was detected by NASA beneath the homes. The Navy, which is
responsible for most of the TCE contamination at Moffett Field,
initially refused to test the air inside homes, instead aiming to use a
computer program to predict the risk.

But after studies last year indicated that solvents move from ground
water into homes far more easily than thought (and after a Voice story
last March pointed out problems with the computer program) the Navy
reversed its stance, tested the air inside homes, and discovered
elevated levels of TCE gas.

Since possible dangerous levels of TCE -- nearly 50 times higher than
what EPA considers safe -- exist in the air around South San Francisco
Bay, it was not clear if the gas inside homes was entering from the
ground or from the surrounding air.

With their latest report, Navy officials contend that the indoor toxins
cannot be linked to the groundwater contamination. "The purpose of the
document was to look at the risk to the residents as a result of the TCE
coming from the ground water ... and the risk in general," said Lawrence
Lansdale, the Navy's cleanup coordinator.

While the report focused on the pathway of TCE from ground water into
houses, the fact that the chemical is present at all inside and outside
homes is cause for concern, said Lenny Siegel, director of the Center
for Public Environmental Oversight.

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