TorteDeForm

Kia Franklin

Water with a lemon wedge, please. Oh, and a spritz of perchlorate…

stinkywater.jpg

Let's give the FDA a break. I mean, they're not the only governmental agency whose officials have sat around twiddling their thumbs while the public's health is put at risk. They've got good company in the EPA, which recently decided that a little rocket fuel in drinking water never hurt anyone... well, besides, you know, babies and developing fetuses, and people with thyroid issues... From Erica Werner on Huffington Post:

EPA Won't Remove Rocket Fuel from Drinking Water

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has decided there's no need to rid drinking water of a toxic rocket fuel ingredient that has fouled public water supplies around the country...

The ingredient, perchlorate, has been found in at least 395 sites in 35 states at levels high enough to interfere with thyroid function and pose developmental health risks, particularly for babies and fetuses, according to some scientists.

Why would the EPA do such a thing? Rest assured, American public. The decision was based on hard science--political science, that is. From the Huffington Post article:

Lenny Siegel, director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight in Mountain View, Calif., added: "This is an unconscionable decision not based upon science or law but on concern that a more stringent standard could cost the government significantly."

The Defense Department used perchlorate for decades in testing missiles and rockets, and most perchlorate contamination is the result of defense and aerospace activities, congressional investigators said last year.

The Pentagon could face liability if EPA set a national drinking water standard that forced water agencies around the country to undertake costly clean-up efforts. Defense officials have spent years questioning EPA's conclusions about the risks posed by perchlorate.

Let's review: protecting a powerful entity from liability for the harms it has inflicted on innocent people and the environment, shifting the cost of this harm to the people themselves, allowing the harm to persist... This sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it? That's right folks, this is essentially tort "reform" for the government. Good times, I tell you.

In the mean time, states are doing whatever they can to protect public health by instituting their own stringent standards for water safety, since the EPA federal won't do anything to step on the toes of another agency:

In 2007, California adopted a drinking water standard of 6 parts per billion. Massachusetts has set a drinking water standard of 2 parts per billion.

So, the taxpayers of these states are pretty much cleaning up the Pentagon's mess or paying the consequences in terms of health and the environment if they don't. Well, that's about as refreshing as a crisp, cool glass of poisonous rocket fuel.

(Also covered back in May by Noah Shachtman on Wired)

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 3:40 PM, Sep 25, 2008 in EPA | Governmental Transparency | Human rights | In the News | Increasing Safety | Under-regulation
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Comments

There are many kinds of perchlorates and they tend to occur in nature as an effect of minimal water falling onto dry arid soils. They are also produced from swimming pools. It is always nice to sensationalize something again, but it is the Huffington Post that is playing political science. Infact, there is now a huge debate on the effects of potassium perchlorate on the thyroid as first it must be a huge level and sencondly the effect is temporary. So what it the real crisis?

As to rocket fuel, how many rocket fuel production facilities do you think are out there? Check the science. Oh, lithium perchlorate makes oxygen.

Posted by: throckmorton | September 25, 2008 9:13 PM