2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 18 Jul 2003 17:21:38 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Drinking water standards
 
We've trying to understand recent reports, some of which we sent out via
our listserver, that EPA has delayed plans to develop drinking-water
standards for perchlorate, MTBE, and other contaminants.

EPA recently announced its "Regulatory Determinations for Priority
Contaminants on the Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List." Both the
Federal Register notice and a fact sheet are available at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccl/cclregdetermine.html.

In my view, the announcement simply confirms past EPA decisions to delay
the promulgation of standards. I was greatly disappointed by one of
those decisions, the extension of the perchlorate review process,
because the Defense Department is unwilling to address adequately
perchlorate contamination until a standard is in place. But this notice
does not seem to introduce any new delays.

Furthermore, the Federal Register notice states, "where EPA determines
there is sufficient information on this or any other unregulated
contaminant, the Agency is prepared to act in advance of the next five
year regulatory determination cycle." To me that suggests that
continuing external pressure should prompt EPA to act expeditiously once
the National Academy of Sciences review is completed.

I have pasted below the paragraphs in the announcement that discuss
perchlorate and MTBE.

Lenny

***


"With respect to perchlorate, EPA is gathering national occurrence data
on perchlorate in drinking water through the Unregulated Contaminant
Monitoring (UCM) Rule. The Agency is also completing a rigorous peer
review of health effects studies and is developing a final toxicity
review and risk characterization. As part of this effort, EPA has asked
the National Academy of Sciences to review science issues related to the
2002 draft EPA risk assessment for perchlorate. In addition, the Agency
is funding research studies on treatability of perchlorate for PWSs.
Some of the technology currently in use at hazardous waste sites is
being evaluated for the feasibility of using it in water treatment at
community water systems. At the same time, EPA is seeking to improve the
analytical method sensitivity that would allow concentrations of
perchlorate to be quantified at lower levels than are presently
possible. The Agency is moving concurrently in each of these areas to
meet data and research needs as quickly as possible. When the necessary
information is collected, we plan to move forward with a regulatory
determination. In this regard, it should be emphasized that where EPA
determines there is sufficient information on this or any other
unregulated contaminant, the Agency is prepared to act in advance of the
next five year regulatory determination cycle."

"Regarding MTBE, on-going activities will provide the Agency with
improved health effects and occurrence data. At this time, EPA is
preparing its revised risk assessment for MTBE for peer review. The
Agency established the 1997 Drinking Water Advisory for MTBE at 20-40
micrograms per liter (g/L, or parts per billion, ppb) to avoid
unacceptable taste and odor and provide a protective margin of exposure
for adverse health effects. The 20-40 ppb level was not based on the
possible cancer risks. As a result of the UCM Rule, data from PWSs
required to monitor for MTBE will be available in the middle of 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
<lsiegel@cpeo.org>
http://www.cpeo.org

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