It’s time for other officials and agencies to get involved to
better monitor perchlorate cleanup in South County
News that unsafe perchlorate contamination levels have been found on a private well west of Monterey Road in Morgan Hill indicates the chemical’s nine-mile plume has further dispersed from the southeast section of Tenant Avenue.
And that means the contamination is larger and more widespread than originally thought. For years, we have believed the plume extended from the most contaminated area of Olin Corporation’s now-defunct road-flare plant on Tenant Avenue south past Masten Avenue into San Martin and near the Gilroy border. With the news of a contaminated well west of U.S. 101, it means Olin’s party line isn’t the complete truth.
Perhaps Olin hasn’t known how extensive the contamination is, but discovery of the private well with almost 9 parts per billion of perchlorate contamination – well above the state’s public health goal of 6ppb – indicates more work is needed on Olin’s and the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s part to clearly define the scope of the cleanup operation.
The State Department of Health Services, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the California Environmental Protection Agency, newly elected congressman Jerry McNerney and Assemblyman John Laird should hold a perchlorate summit in South Valley. Olin has to take complete responsibility for fouling our water supply. If there’s an alternate explanation backed by science, let’s hear it.
Residents should not have to tolerate perchlorate in their drinking wells. Olin is lucky the state has adopted the 6ppb standards when other states like Massachusetts have adopted a more stringent 2ppb.
Olin’s recent cleanup proposal of the plant’s most polluted areas indicates it could take almost two years to complete, and its plan fails to address the chemical’s poisoning of the dirt around the plant.
Most concerning is that the private well is near an area served by a pair of large wells supplying water to about 250 homes. Will the water in that part of town remain safe?
San Martin Neighborhood Alliance President Sylvia Hamilton, who’s also chairwoman of the Perchlorate Community Advisory Group, rightly declared to staff writer Tony Burchyns: “I don’t think we’ve done enough work to be sure of its boundaries.”
Olin must pay for more work to clearly delineate the contamination area, address contamination in the soil and come up with a quicker and more detailed cleanup effort that identifies where the pollution is located. Olin made a huge mess, it’s high time the company cleaned it all up.