2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 10 Jul 2003 18:29:36 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Re: [CPEO-MEF] Perchlorate Language in Senate Mil Con Approps Report
The action items in the Senate Mil Con report language are very good.
The Defense Department should not delay the characterization of
perchlorate contamination on its facilities. The language is weaker than
actual Appropriations directed to this purpose, but it keeps the
pressure on Pentagon decision-makers.

However, the assertion that "the Department of Defense is under no legal
obligation to remediate perchlorate contamination at defense sites" does
not hold water. The Defense Department asserts that, but I know of no
regulatory agency that accepts that claim. It would be much easier to
require cleanup if there were promulgated state or federal standards,
but many other contaminants are remediated despite the absence of standards.


Aimee Houghton wrote:
> The following language appears in the Senate Military Construction Sub
> committee report:
> Perchlorate
> The Committee is growing increasingly concerned about the potential impact
> of perchlorate contamination at installations that have been closed through
> the BRAC process as well as at active and inactive defense sites.
> Perchlorate, a chemical used in solid rocket propellant, has been
> identified by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] as an unregulated
> toxin. Perchlorate contamination has been found in drinking water supplies
> in 29 States, including California, Texas, Colorado, Maryland, and
> Massachusetts. More than 300 groundwater wells in California are
> contaminated with perchlorate, as is the Colorado River, which supplies
> drinking water to more than 15,000,000 people in the Southwest.
> According to the EPA, the Department of Defense and the National
> Aeronautics and Space Administration are responsible for 90 percent of the
> perchlorate produced in the United States. Although the EPA last year
> concluded in a draft assessment that perchlorate could pose a risk to human
> health at drinking water concentrations of just one part per billion, the
> Federal Government has yet to set a drinking water standard for
> perchlorate. Therefore, no remediation standard exists. The EPA assessment
> has been referred to the National Academy of Sciences for review, which
> could significantly delay the establishment of a national drinking water
> standard for perchlorate.
> The Committee recognizes that, absent a state or Federal standard for
> perchlorate, the Department of Defense is under no legal obligation to
> remediate perchlorate contamination at defense sites. However, the
> Committee is disappointed that the Department has been unresponsive to
> requests to test for perchlorate at BRAC properties or other defense sites.
> To ensure that the Department is prepared to respond quickly and
> appropriately once a perchlorate standard is determined, the Committee
> directs that the Department take the following actions:
> (1) Submit to the congressional defense committees no later than December
> 31, 2003, a report on the activities of the Interagency Perchlorate
> Steering Committee of the Department of Defense that was established in
> January 1998 and was originally chartered to facilitate and coordinate
> accurate accounts of technological issues (occurrence, health effects,
> treatability and waste stream handling, analytical detection, and
> ecological impacts) related to perchlorate contamination of drinking water
> supplies and irrigation water supplies and to create information transfer
> links for interagency and intergovernmental activities regarding such areas
> of concern. The report shall cover all activities that were identified in
> the memorandum of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Environmental
> Security), dated January 24, 2001, to the Secretaries of the military
> departments and the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency.
> (2) Identify sources of perchlorate on BRAC properties and develop a plan
> to remediate perchlorate contamination on BRAC sites that can be
> implemented rapidly once State or Federal perchlorate standards are set.
> The Department shall report to the congressional defense committees on its
> perchlorate findings and remediation action plan no later than March 30, 2004.


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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