2005 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 1 Apr 2005 17:44:34 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Environment California criticizes reported state perchlorate decision
Environment California
For Immediate Release:
April 1, 2005

California May Allow Rocket Fuel Pollution to Remain in Drinking Water
Supplies of Millions 

Despite new data showing the presence of the rocket fuel chemical
perchlorate in the milk of nursing mothers and widespread contamination
of food, California Environmental Protection Agency will move forward
with a final public health goal (PHG) for perchlorate that fails to
protect newborn infants from perchlorate and may let the biggest
polluters in the state off the hook. 

"We are absolutely appalled that the State will not protect our babies
from rocket fuel contamination in our drinking water," stated Penny
Newman, Executive Director for the Inland Valley-based Center for
Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ). "This public health
goal does not protect public health. It protects polluters." The
recommendation will be used by the Department of Health Services in
setting a final cleanup standard for the contaminant in drinking water. 

According to a letter issued by state officials yesterday, the decision
to move forward with a public health goal of 6 ppb does not incorporate
recent findings of perchlorate in the milk of nursing mothers throughout
the country and is six times weaker than a similar recommendation issued
in Massachusetts last year. "The State is openly telling us that our
babies don't count," said Jan Misquez, Campaign Director for the Inland
Valley Perchlorate Task Force in San Bernardino. "They clearly stated
that they did not consider the impacts on breast fed babies and have no
plans to do so-this is truly policy setting by ignoring the scientific
evidence available."

A final standard set at six parts per billion may avert a legal
requirement for Kerr McGee Corporation to fully cleanup contamination
leaking into the Colorado River, which supplies water to 135 California
cities and irrigates much of the nation's winter produce crop. A
December Environmental Protection Agency reports lists the maximum level
of perchlorate in the Colorado River at Parker Dam at 5.7 ppb, just
under the new health recommendation. 

Federal regulators and community activists have described Kerr McGee's
contamination of the Colorado River with perchlorate as the single
largest pollution problem in the nation. 

"The bottom line is that rocket fuel has no place in our water supplies.
Polluters put it there, they should get it out. All of it." stated
Sujatha Jahagirdar, Clean Water Advocate for Environment California
Research & Policy Center and co-author of the recent Center study,
Perchlorate and Children's Health. 

"It seems a bit too coincidental that the suggested public health goal
is just above the levels found in the Colorado River, relieving the
polluters from having to clean up the contamination," said CCAEJ's
Newman. Recent studies of lettuce and other crops that largely originate
from regions irrigated with Colorado River water have shown an elevated
concentration of the chemical in food. "By setting a level at 6ppb,
we're guaranteeing that our food supply will be contaminated." 

According to a health studies conducted by state and federal regulators,
and the National Academy of Sciences, at low levels, perchlorate can
harm the thyroid gland. Deficiencies in hormones controlled by the
thyroid gland are linked to problems in brain development that can lead
to conditions such as attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities
and decreased IQ. Massachusetts regulators have suggested one part per
billion as a safer threshold to protect babies. When adjusted to protect
infants and account for exposure through food, recent EPA and National
Academy of Sciences studies point to the same. 

In addition to allowing contamination to continue to pollute the
Colorado River, the public health goal issued today may lead to a
cleanup standard that will let polluters in the Morgan Hill area off the
hook for cleaning up 75 percent of the wells it has contaminated. 

"What we are talking about here is the brain development of our babies.
Protecting them should be a top priority for every state official,"
concluded Jahagirdar. 

For the original press release, go to


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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