Groundwater Tests Ordered Across Massachusetts

February 24, 2004

Perchlorate Found in Bourne Wells

The Mass. Department of Environmental Protection has issued statewide emergency regulations for the testing of groundwater because of the presence of perchlorate, a propellant that is found in fireworks and rockets, the Cape Cod Times reported.

These regulations require water suppliers to test for perchlorate down to one part per billion between two and four times a year over the next year

Officials hope to discover how prevalent the chemical is in the commonwealth and will decide within a year whether to set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for the propellant, the Times article continued.

Two wells in Bourne remained closed yesterday, two years after traces of the chemical, , were detected. Perchlorate is pervasive in the western United States, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency has yet to set a health standard.

The perchlorate, which is known to disrupt thyroid function and could be harmful to young children and pregnant women, is suspected to be coming from the Massachusetts Military Reservation. Several wells in the Bourne area have been shut down because they tested positive for this contaminant.

Robert Mullennix, a Bourne resident and a member of the citizen team that reviews the Army cleanup at the base, ia among those who think that an MCL of 1 ppb is overkill. He believes that setting such a low threshold could erode the public's confidence in the water system.

"We need to come to terms with the fact that we can measure levels so low they are inconsequential for health concerns," Mullennix said.

However, DEP's Drinking Water Program director David Terry said if an MCL is set, it will balance several factors, including the health risks and the potential technological costs of cleaning perchlorate from the water supply, the Times reported.

Source:

Cape Cod Times

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