by Duane Craig
San Bernardino County in California is in the news again for contamination of the water supply by a rocket fuel additive. Perchlorate found in high levels in November in Barstow’s water supply caused the governor to declare a state of emergency there. Apparently there is a plume of the contaminant in the Rialto-Colton water basin.
San Bernardino is the county where Hinckley is located, the town made famous in the lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric by Erin Brockovich over hexavalent chromium contamination in the 1990s.
These days Rep. Joe Baca, D-CA, is still trying to get his bill passed that will pay the U.S. Geological Survey to do the necessary studies in determining the extent of the contamination. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the studies will cost $4 million. The bill has failed in the Senate previously.
Perchlorate disturbs hormone production affecting brain development and growth in babies and children. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) currently has a 6 parts per billion (ppb) Public Health Goal (PHG) with 4 ppb being the action level. The agency came out this month in support of lowering the PHG to 1 ppb.