Bill sets aside $25M to clean perchlorate

Gilroy
– A bill setting aside $25 million in federal funds to clean up
perchlorate in Santa Clara County passed the U.S. House of
Representatives Monday.
Gilroy– A bill setting aside $25 million in federal funds to clean up perchlorate in Santa Clara County passed the U.S. House of Representatives Monday.

The funds are for projects outside the scope of the cleanup order issued last week to Olin Corp., and are dependent on a local agency such as the Santa Clara Valley Water District raising 35 percent in matching funds.

“Local leaders and residents of Santa Clara County have testified to the problems perchlorate caused their families and neighbors,” said Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, who sponsored the bill. “I hope my colleagues in the Senate will act fast to pass this legislation so we can continue to aid in the clean-up effort.”

Water district spokesman Mike DiMarco said the funds may be used to explore new well-head treatments and a comprehensive study of the long-term health effects of perchlorate on humans and animals.

Also Monday a group of California Assembly members sent a letter to the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) urging the agency to lower the state’s public health goal for perchlorate, which stands at 6 parts per billion. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, and Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, were among the signatories.

Perchlorate, a sodium compound known to inhibit thyroid function in humans, was discovered in 2000 at the Railroad Avenue site of a former road-flare factory operated by Olin. The Llagas sub-basin is polluted through a plume that stretches about 9.5 miles from the southern edge of Morgan Hill to the northern border of Gilroy.

Last week the Central Coast Regional Water Control Board issued an order that gives Olin until June 2006 to prepare a final plan for cleaning the groundwater.

In January OEHHA promised to reexamine the health goal in light of a new study issued by the National Academy of Sciences that environmentalists have argued is grounds for lowering the goal.

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