House Introduces Perchlorate LegislationMay 19, 2003 | The Dispatch Echoing a move by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, new legislation introduced in the House of Representatives last week asks the federal government to set a drinking water standard for perchlorate by next summer.
The Preventing Perchlorate Pollution Act would require the federal Environmental Protection Agency to set a “maximum contaminant level” drinking water standard for the chemical by July 1, 2004, which is at least two years ahead of the agency’s current timeline.
The bill would also require enhanced community access to information about perchlorate, including details on its transport, release and storage.
“Perchlorate has infiltrated wells in my district, and I am as deeply concerned as many of my constituents are,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), who represents Gilroy and with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) was among the bill’s 19 cosponsors. “The EPA and the Bush Administration need to step up efforts on the federal front so we can find out just how dangerous this toxin is, where (it) has infiltrated and establish policy to streamline cleanups.”
Boxer introduced a bill in March that would require a federal standard on a similar timeline. The current state advisory level is 4 parts per billion, although a state senator has also introduced a bill requiring a state standard by the new year.
Perchlorate is a by-product from the manufacture of flares, matches, fireworks and, in larger amounts, solid rocket fuel.
A plume of the chemical has spread from an old Olin Corp. highway flare factory in Morgan Hill and contaminated several municipal wells in Morgan Hill, as well as hundreds of private wells south of the city. It has also been found in the Colorado River and Lake Mead as well as communities in the Sacramento and Inland Empire areas.
According to the California EPA, scientific studies have suggested perchlorate can disrupt thyroid hormone production. Inhibited thyroid function can result in hypothyroidism and in rare cases, thyroid tumors.
Sensitive populations include pregnant women, children and people who have health problems or compromised thyroid conditions.