NM wants perchlorate regulation

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By Roger Snodgrass

New Mexico’s Environment secretary criticized a preliminary determination by the federal environmental agency that would remove the chemical perchlorate from a list of contaminants to consider for national regulation.

Perchlorate is used in plutonium processing and is a component of jet fuel. According to a Government Accountability Office report in 2005, the chemical has been found in the Los Alamos environment, as well as at Kirtland and Holloman Air Force bases, and White Sands Missile Range, among other military-related locations in the state.

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency determined that perchlorate is at levels of public concern in fewer than 1 percent of public drinking water systems and therefore, did not present a “meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction” through a national drinking water regulation.

The agency noted that states have the right to establish and enforce drinking water standards and that EPA encouraged state-specific situations to be addressed at the local level.

Although no national standards have been established for perchlorate, the state of Massachusetts has set a maximum contaminant level of 2 micrograms per liter. The state of California has established a level of 6 micrograms per liter.

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