2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 30 Oct 2003 23:39:44 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Perchlorate pollution prevention
Inside EPA, citing an Air Force Colonel, reported this week, "Military
officials are warning that an EPA study on the risks posed by
perchlorate -- a rocket fuel component that has contaminated groundwater
in 45 states -- is overly conservative and will force them to stop using
the chemical, which would undermine the military's training and readiness."

What utter nonsense! 

A stringent perchlorate standard could cost the Air Force and the Army
billions of dollars in cleanup costs, but I cannot see how it would
undermine readiness. It is possible to prevent significant new releases
like those that have contaminated the Colorado River and local water
supplies throughout the Southwest, simply through improved product and
waste management.

Of course, pollution prevention is a more reliable strategy, and the
military has adopted this approach widely for other contaminants.
Already, the Defense Department is responding to the perchlorate problem
by evaluating substitute solid rocket fuels, and that pollution
prevention goal should remain even if EPA adopts a lax perchlorate
standard, as argued by the military.

That's true first because some of the major identified perchlorate
contamination sites have concentrations even above the Pentagon's
suggested laxer alternatives, and second because perchlorate rocket fuel
poses other environmental hazards. In particular, when perchlorate-based
rocket fuel burns as designed, it creates Hydrogen Chloride. HCl mixes
with moisture in the atmosphere to create acid precipitation, and when
released in the stratosphere, it causes ozone depletion.

If the health data shows that perchlorate at 1 part per billion or 4
parts per billion in water is unhealthy, then the federal drinking water
standard should be based upon that science. In the unlikely case that
the military cannot find a way to protect our water and still produce
and launch rockets, then it should seek an exemption, based upon
national security requirements, for those cases where there is no other
way to comply with the law. 

It should not pervert the protection of public health, across the board,
to meet narrow mission requirements. That is, I believe that there are
very few, if any, essential military activities that require the release
of perchlorate, in any concentration, into groundwater, and in any case,
such contingencies should not be used to weaken the cleanup and
treatment of the nation's essential water supplies.

Lenny Siegel

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

CPEO: A DECADE OF SUCCESS.  Your generous support will ensure that our 
important work on military and environmental issues will continue.  
Please consider one of our donation options.  Thank you.

  Prev by Date: [CPEO-MEF] Warning Signs In Works for Otero Canyon
Next by Date: [CPEO-MEF] 'Ghost fleet' faces setback
  Prev by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] Warning Signs In Works for Otero Canyon
Next by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] 'Ghost fleet' faces setback

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index