By: Nathan Lamb
Residents of a southern California city may have had drinking water contaminated by a nearby munitions complex, according to this story from the Los Angeles Times.
Multiple city wells have been shut down in the City of Rialto, which is importing drinking water until widespread groundwater contamination is fixed.
The wells are tainted primarily with perchlorate, a persistent contaminant that can cause thyroid problems, especially with pregnant women and children.
A 2012 study by the California Department of Public Health indicated that drinking water supplied to Rial residents may have contained elevated levels of perchlorate from 1979 to 1997. The perchlorate has been traced back to production of ammunition, rocket fuel and fireworks at an industrial complex.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently reached binding agreements with several companies that will foot the bill for cleanup. The full scope of the problem is still being determined, but current estimates have the cleanup costing at least $140 million and taking 30 years or more.
According to the EPA website, perchlorate sometimes occurs naturally and is highly soluble in water. Human exposure is typically through contaminated drinking water, and large doses of perchlorate can cause irritation, coughing, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Rialto is located approximately 50 miles east of Los Angeles.