Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today released the following statement regarding the recent discovery that drinking water wells in parts of Barstow, California, contained levels of toxic perchlorate that exceed state standards.
Senator Boxer said, "My immediate priorities are to ensure that every family in the Barstow area has safe, clean drinking water again as soon as possible, and that the source of this dangerous perchlorate contamination is identified and addressed quickly."
"My staff on the Environment and Public Works Committee has been in close contact with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California EPA, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, the California Department of Public Health, and the Department of Defense. Here's what we know from reports so far."
"First, the contaminated well has been closed, and the Golden State Water Company is flushing the water system to remove remaining perchlorate."
"The Water Company and state health officials are continuing to test the water in Barstow and are advising families on when it is again safe to consume the water. It is particularly important that all communications with the public clearly explain the risks of drinking or washing with perchlorate-tainted water."
"Although the source of the perchlorate contamination is not yet known, multiple federal, state and local agencies are working collaboratively to determine where this pollution came from."
"Perchlorate is a toxic component of rocket fuel that interferes with the function of the thyroid gland and is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and children. That is why I have been a longstanding proponent of setting a national drinking water standard for perchlorate that protects pregnant women, infants and children."
"Everyone has a right to clean, safe water. As Senator from California and as Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I am working to make sure all the responsible state and federal agencies are doing everything possible to resolve this crisis and protect the children and families of Barstow."
On Friday, November 19, Golden State Water Company (GSWC) issued a water advisory in Barstow, California, directing consumers not to drink any water until further notice due to perchlorate contamination. Perchlorate is a toxic chemical used in an array of products, including fireworks, rocket fuel and munitions, and is particularly dangerous to pregnant women, infants and children. The water company continues to distribute bottled water to residents while the advisory is in place.
Since the water advisory was first issued last week, the California Department of Public Health has allowed GSWC to lift its water advisory for portions of the Barstow water system based on data that confirmed those portions of the system are no longer impacted by the contamination.
The water company is continuing to flush the system to remove perchlorate residue. The water company in coordination with the Department of Public Health is providing updates to consumers on the status of the effort to remove perchlorate and when water is safe for consumption.
The "do not drink" order was issued following detection of levels of perchlorate near 20 parts per billion in the water distribution system on the Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow. Perchlorate was initially detected in sampling conducted by the Marine Corps who then notified GSWC, which provides the base's water.
Following the initial detection, the GSWC conducted additional sampling at its source water wells and identified three wells with elevated perchlorate levels. One well, which was actively being used by the water system, contained more than 15 times the state standard for perchlorate in drinking water. State law requires perchlorate levels to be below 6 parts per billion. Two other wells in the area also showed excessive perchlorate levels but were not being actively used by the water company.
The source of the perchlorate contamination is not known at this time. The relevant federal, state and local agencies are working collaboratively to identify the source of the contamination.
In compliance with state requirements, the GSWC wells are tested every three years for perchlorate. Testing of water in the distribution system is now carried out on a daily basis as water company officials work to flush the system of contaminated water. According to the Marine Corps, it tests for perchlorate yearly at the facility where the contamination was initially discovered.
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