Saturday, November 13, 2004


Water Contamination Seen as Threat

Article posted from "Retirement News" (you can visit them by clicking on the link.)

Water Contamination Seen as Threat to Some Housing Developers
With 22 states now reporting groundwater contamination by perchlorate, the main ingredient in solid rocket fuel, authorities are now taking a closer look at the quality of water in cities and towns across the country, and in areas where builders are planning new homes. The chemical was widely dumped at military bases and defense industry sites during the Cold War. Scientists say it is an endocrine disrupter that can alter hormonal balances – thyroid hormones, in this case – and thus impede metabolism and brain development.
In Nevada, the drinking water for Las Vegas, which mostly comes from Lake Mead above the Hoover Dam, was recently found to contain perchlorate levels 10 times what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says is safe. In nearby Henderson, perchlorate concerns are complicating plans to build a 9,000-home community on the 2,300-acre site of old industrial-waste ponds. The city is home to a number of popular retirement communities. Its population is projected to grow from 156,000 (1998) to 256,000 (2010).
In West Texas, nine counties near Midland have found perchlorate in the important Ogallala aquifer but the source has yet to be determined. In Bourne, Mass., at the gateway to Cape Cod, a perchlorate plume that has closed half the town’s wells has been traced to the nearby Massachusetts Military Reserve, a training range for National Guard troops. And the plume that has curtailed 20% of the water supply of Aberdeen, Md., outside Washington, D.C., began at Aberdeen Proving Ground, an Army training and munitions test site.
The EPA and the Department of Defense are in a bitter dispute over perchlorate’s health effects and the cost to clean it up. The EPA wants the Pentagon to undertake widespread testing for the chemical in the ground water. The Defense Department is resisting, and in an official policy statement issued in November, said it would allow testing only where a “reasonable basis” exists to suspect perchlorate contamination is both present and “could threaten public health.”
Many of the ordinary military ranges with perchlorate pollution lie on the outskirts of growing cities, in places that were once far removed from civilian neighborhoods but now serve as watershed and open space for sprawling suburban communities. One area where the situation is most acute is in the hills and desert frontier east of Los Angeles, where the military and its private contractors settled before and after World War II. Now these areas are filling up with new homes.
[For more information about what the EPA is doing, visit: or call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.]

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