|From:||Lenny Siegel <email@example.com>|
|Date:||21 Mar 2005 19:25:49 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-MEF] My visit to Aerojet|
On March 8, 2005, I toured the perchlorate treatment facilities at the
Aerojet property in Rancho Cordova, California, as part of the ITRC
(Interstate Technology Regulatory Council) perchlorate workteam meeting.
Aerojet is one of the largest perchlorate contamination sites in the
country, with groundwater plumes moving in several directions, but the
concentrations are not so great as at the Kerr-McGee site in Henderson,
We first visited an old treatment facility, one intended for replacement, consisting of air strippers (with no off-gas treatment) for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and "downstream" portable ion exchange units for perchlorate. Were it not already slated for shutdown, I would find the VOC vapor releases cause for potential concern, because the treatment systems is near the property boundary,.
Then we visited the state-of-the-art fluidized bed (biological) reactor, which treats perchlorate as well as other salts, such as nitrates, before the water receives ultraviolet/hydrogen peroxide treatment. The latter is designed to eliminate NDMA (nitrosodimethylamine), a highly toxic byproduct of liquid rocket fuel. (The health standard is in parts per trillion). It also removes most of the volatile organic compounds, including 1,4 dioxane (which carbon doesn't trap). The ultraviolet lamp units consume a great deal of electrical power. Then the water goes through air strippers before release to (dirtier) surface water.
This visit confirmed that a great deal of progress has been made in perchlorate treatment technology over the past couple of years, and it also illustrated that in industrial settings perchlorate is likely to be found in groundwater along with other seriously toxic substances.
And this, perhaps, is the most important lesson of my Aerojet visit. Most discussions of perchlorate address it as if it existed in laboratory conditions. In the real world, it frequently appears in water with other contaminants. Other substances interfere with measurements of perchlorate concentrations. The risk of perchlorate ingestion may be affected positively or negatively by the presence of other substances. Finally, as Aerojet's remediation challenge underscores, water treatment must simultaneously address the full suite of toxic substances within the water.
Thus, any funding to promote the investigation, assessment, and response to perchlorate contamination should be structured to protect the public from all toxic substances in its water, not just the "toxic flavor of the month," perchlorate.
Lenny -- 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 http://www.cpeo.org
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