22 June 2004
Senate committee approves $4 million for Cal perchlorate clean-up
Associated Press
Monterey Herald


WASHINGTON - Senate appropriators on Tuesday approved $4 million to clean up pollution in California's inland region from a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel.

The perchlorate cleanup provision was offered by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee as part of a 2005 defense spending bill. The bill must go to the full Senate for approval.

The money is to be used for cleanup in the Rialto-Colton Basin, where a seven-mile plume of perchlorate was discovered in 2002 and has contaminated 22 drinking water wells in western San Bernardino County, jeopardizing water supplies for 500,000 local residents.

"What's clear is that perchlorate is now permeating the food chain. ... It's a very serious thing, and the number one contributor is the Department of Defense," Feinstein said in a statement.

A new study by the Environmental Working Group found that young children and pregnant women who drink milk from California cows may be exposed to unsafe levels of perchlorate. State and federal regulators are considering new standards to regulate the toxin, which has been linked to damage to the thyroid.

The Appropriations Committee also adopted a provision directing the Pentagon to develop a plan to remediate perchlorate contamination, and reiterated that the Pentagon should provide a report to Congress on perchlorate contamination at defense sites nationwide. By law that report was due to Congress April 30, but the Pentagon still has not handed it over.

On Wednesday, a House Resources subcommittee was to consider a bill by Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, that would provide $25 million in federal funds for cleanup of perchlorate contamination in the Santa Clara Valley.


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