The Department of Defense announced today that it and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CAL-EPA) have finalized a procedure for prioritizing perchlorate-sampling efforts at DoD facilities throughout California.
The procedure document provides guidance to California and DoD officials on the steps each party will take to identify and prioritize areas on military sites where perchlorate has likely been released in proximity to drinking water sources. The DoD/California-developed agreement is the first of its kind in the country.
This protocol is a crucial step forward to address perchlorate concerns in California and will serve as a model for interagency partnering with other states, said Alex Beehler, assistant deputy under secretary of defense for environment, safety, and occupational health.
CAL-EPA head Terry Tamminen said, Our cooperative implementation of the protocol will provide us the much needed information to better understand the scope and magnitude of the impact to our drinking water sources.
As a first step, the protocol will allow California to assist DoD in prioritizing the investigation of suspected sites and will focus resources on the sites that may have the greatest impact to the public. If perchlorate releases are discovered, DoD intends to fully characterize and respond to the problems under its existing environmental response programs.
Currently, no drinking water standard for perchlorate has been adopted. California recently set a public health goal of 6 parts per billion and that states department of health services has begun efforts to adopt a maximum contaminant limit. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working with California on monitoring perchlorate occurrence in public water systems.
The new protocol addresses active and closed installations, non-operational ranges, and formerly used Defense sites where funding has not already been allocated to address perchlorate. Any known perchlorate releases at a DoD site within one mile of a drinking water source where perchlorate has been detected will warrant the highest priority for sampling. It allows DoD to focus resources on the sites posing the most immediate threats to Californias drinking water supplies. The protocol will not affect any ongoing environmental restoration activities that DoD is already conducting to address perchlorate.
The Department of Defense remains committed to working with the State of California to set priorities, to identify and address perchlorate problems on military facilities, and to marshal resources for researching effective treatment technologies, Beehler said.
Perchlorate is a chemical that has been used in various items, including missile and rocket propellants, munitions, fireworks, flares, fertilizer, automobile airbags, and pharmaceuticals. It may also occur naturally. It has important applications for national defense and space exploration.