2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: kdoyle@psenterprises.com
Date: 4 Apr 2003 16:13:09 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Senators Urge DoD to Take 'Aggressive' Role In Perchlorate Clean Up
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                               

Thursday, April 3, 2003 

Senators Feinstein, Reid, Boxer Urge Department of Defense to Take
'Aggressive' Role In Perchlorate Clean Up

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Harry Reid
(D-NV), and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) have urged the Department of Defense to
take an 'aggressive and positive' role in the cleanup of perchlorate in
groundwater supplies in California and across the nation.

Widely used during the Cold War, perchlorate is a primary ingredient in
rocket fuel. According to a recent report by the California Department of
Health Services, perchlorate has been detected in water supplies in 22
states including the Colorado River.  In California, perchlorate has been
found in 292 groundwater wells operated by 80 different agencies.

Specifically, the Senators urged the Department of Defense to:

* Provide information on the sites that pose the greatest threat to
Americans' health; and 

* Describe the initial measures the Department would take to reduce
perchlorate contamination at those sites.

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the Senators wrote: "We
write you to request that the Department of Defense take a more aggressive
and positive role in cleaning up defense-related perchlorate contaminated
water supplies in as many as 22 states from California and Nevada to
Massachusetts and Maryland.

"We are seriously concerned that the Department's proposed exemption from
environmental laws will limit its responsibility to clean up perchlorate.
The state officials who are sworn to protect their citizens' drinking water
from perchlorate and other threats have expressed alarm that their efforts
will be preempted by your amendment....This is a serious matter, because
perchlorate can impair thyroid functioning and affect the physical and
mental development of children.

"To the best of our knowledge, nearly all the perchlorate produced in the
United States over the last half century was used by the Department and our
space program. This means that if the Defense Department ducks
responsibility for its actions here, the burden will fall on hundreds of
America's communities, whose residents will face not only contamination of
their drinking water but the staggering costs of cleaning up a problem they
did not create. This is completely unacceptable.            

"The plain truth is that the Department of Defense has long been not only
the primary consumer of perchlorate, but also intimately involved in its

"For example, between 1951 and 1962 the U.S. Navy owned and contracted for
the operation of the largest perchlorate production facility in the country
located in Henderson, Nevada. Even after relinquishing its ownership of the
facility, the Department and its contractors continued to be the primary
customers of its perchlorate.  Perchlorate from this facility is leaching
into Lake Mead and the Colorado River, impacting water supplies in
California, Arizona and Nevada. While aggressive cleanup efforts are
underway at the site, we are very concerned that the Department has not
actively engaged in contributing to that cleanup. 

"The Department has also been involved in many other serious perchlorate
contamination sites in our states. The California Department of Health
Services has detected perchlorate in 292 public groundwater wells, the
majority of which are located near facilities operated by the Department or
its contractors. 

"The Defense Department has said that it is not willing to start clean-up of
perchlorate until there is a national standard, but finalizing the standard
is currently projected to take years. It is unacceptable for the Defense
Department to adopt this delay strategy while private parties and drinking
water utilities adopt costly measures to assure the purity of drinking water
supplies. Companies have already spent millions on priority actions to
reduce the threat to Americans - and we urge the Defense Department to do so
as well.

"One obvious priority effort is to try to stem the flow of perchlorate into
the Colorado River from the Henderson facility described above. Kerr-McGee,
which operated the facility after the Defense Department, has built a
state-of-the art ion-exchange facility and taken other measures in an
attempt to address the problem. Yet the Defense Department has done nothing.
The federal government cannot sit idly by where its actions are affecting
the quality of our drinking water. 

"We request that the Department report back to us on the top priority sites
around the country for it to reduce perchlorate contamination in drinking
water, and what initial measures the Department would take in California,
Nevada, Arizona, Texas and other states, given available funding. We expect
a serious and detailed response as warrants a potential threat to Americans'

"We hope that you will join us in the spirit of cooperation to address this
important issue. We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible."

A copy of the Senators' letter is available upon request.


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