2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 3 Mar 2003 20:18:21 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] ROCKET FUEL IN DRINKING WATER
 
ROCKET FUEL IN DRINKING WATER

SEN. BOXER INTRODUCES BILL TO SET SAFETY STANDARD  NEW DATA SHOWS
WIDESPREAD NATIONWIDE CONTAMINATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 3, 2003


Bill Walker, EWG, (510) 444-0973
Renee Sharp, EWG, (510) 444-0974

OAKLAND, Calif., March 3 Environmental Working Group (EWG) applauded
Sen. Barbara Boxer's introduction today of a bill to set a national
safety standard for rocket fuel waste in drinking water, and released
exclusive up-to-date data on all known or suspected occurrences of the
contaminant in hundreds of locations in 43 states. EWG also released an
analysis of the latest scientific studies on the health risks of
exposure to even low doses of perchlorate, arguing that the national
drinking water standard should be no higher than one-tenth the EPA1s
current recommendation.

More than 20 million Americans drink water from public and private
sources known to be polluted with perchlorate. This figure includes
customers of 81 contaminated water systems in California and all
residents of California, Arizona and Nevada who get at least part of
their drinking water from the perchlorate-tainted Colorado River.

But EWG's analysis of the latest government data shows that perchlorate
pollution is now known to be a serious problem nationwide:

 *    Outside of California, perchlorate contamination has been
confirmed by testing in more than 100 drinking water sources in 19
states.

 *    Perchlorate contamination of soil or of groundwater sources, not
all of which are currently used for drinking water, has been confirmed
at more than 50 sites in 17 states.

 *    Perchlorate is known to have been made, used or stored at more
than 150 sites in 36 states. At some of these locations, water or soil
contamination has already been detected by testing, but the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency says it is certain that further tests
would confirm contamination at all of the sites.

 *    Perchlorate testing is urgently needed on at least 63 military
sites in 32 states where rockets, missiles or munitions have been
developed, produced, tested, stored, maintained, or disposed of. To
date, testing is planned at only a few of these sites.

(Lists of all known or suspected sites of perchlorate contamination,
plus detailed analysis of the health risks, are available at
http://www.ewg.org/reports/rocketwater/.)

"Sen. Boxer's legislation is a long-overdue step toward addressing a
toxic legacy of the Cold War that poses a health risk to Americans from
California to Cape Cod," said Bill Walker, West Coast vice president of
EWG, which has studied perchlorate pollution since 2000. "Now the
Pentagon and the defense industry must stop trying to block safety
standards and cleanup of
contaminated sites, and let the EPA do its job of protecting the
public."

Perchlorate is a powerful thyroid toxin that can affect the thyroid's
ability to take up the essential nutrient iodide and make thyroid
hormone. Small disturbances in thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy
can cause lowered IQ and larger disturbances can cause mental
retardation, loss of hearing and speech, or deficits in motor skills for
infants and children.

Legislation introduced today by Sen. Boxer, D-CA, would mandate that the
federal government set a drinking water standard for perchlorate by July
1, 2004. California health officials are working toward setting a state
drinking water standard sometime in 2004, but the EPA does not plan to
set enforceable national standards before 2008, if then.

California's current provisional drinking water standard, which is only
advisory, is 2 to 6 parts per billion (ppb). The EPA's current draft
standard is equivalent to 1 ppb. Boxer1s legislation does not specify
what the standard should be but mandates that it be set at a level that
will protect the most sensitive populations. To protect children, EWG
says the standard should be no higher than one-tenth the EPA1s
recommendation, or 0.1 ppb.

Perchlorate is used in fireworks, safety flares, matches and car air
bags, but 90 percent of it goes into solid rocket fuel for military
missiles and the NASA space shuttle. National contamination data is
still spotty, but extensive drinking water testing is now underway.
Among known contaminated sites is the McGregor Naval Weapons Plant in
central Texas, just a few miles from President Bush's ranch.

Although the majority of known and suspected perchlorate-contaminated
sites are operated by the military or contractors such Lockheed Martin,
the Department of Defense and the aerospace and defense industry are
stubbornly resisting the efforts of regulators to set adequate safety
standards or clean up contaminated sites. Despite volumes of new
evidence showing that very low doses are harmful to fetuses, infants and
children, the Pentagon and its contractors argue that the risks of
perchlorate should be assessed on the basis of a single study, funded by
the defense industry, on short-term exposure of a handful of adult men
and non-pregnant women.

 --

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