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Officials: no trace of perchlorate

Posted: May 14, 2012 4:00 a.m.
Updated: May 14, 2012 4:00 a.m.

Water officials have found no trace of perchlorate in any of the wells operated by the Newhall Water Company District, one year after the district stepped up its well inspection, a district official said.

District officials concerned about water contamination by perchlorate stepped up their inspection of wells after the chemical was detected in a well owned by the Valencia Water Company.

“Several months ago, the district decided to voluntarily start monitoring for perchlorate quarterly instead of what was required as annually at our nc-12 and nc-13 wells,” said Steve Cole, general manager of the Newhall County Water District, referring to the wells nearest the perchlorate-contaminated Whittaker-Bermite site.

“All the monitoring that was conducted has been a non-detect for perchlorate,” Cole said this past week. “So we haven’t found any perchlorate.”

District officials increased the frequency of their well inspection, he said, and now conduct tests quarterly as opposed to annually, collecting at least 10 samples in the course of a year.

The cost of each test is $50.

In March 2011, the district’s board of directors decided to continue collecting samples at that stepped up rate in accordance with the California Department of Public Health.

“A lot of it had to do with detection of perchlorate at the Valencia (Water Company) well,” Cole said.

“Since the detection of perchlorate at (Valencia Water Company well) 201, the California Department of Public Health now
requires the wells to be monitored quarterly and we continue to do so,” Cole said.

Perchlorate was detected above the detection level of 4 parts per billion and below the Maximum Contamination Level of 6 ppb at one of the Valencia Water Company’s Saugus Formation wells, according to the 2011 Water Quality Report issued by the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

As a precaution the well was removed from service.

Perchlorate was first detected at a Valencia Water Company well in March 2005 at levels of 11 micrograms of perchlorate per one liter of water initially, then in two testings a month later at 9.8 and 10 ug/l.

Perchlorate is an inorganic chemical used in solid rocket propellant, fireworks and explosives.

It gets into drinking water typically as a result of environmental contamination from industries that use it, according to the water agency.

Over the last 65 years, several industrial firms have manufactured and tested explosive material on what is now the Whittaker-Bermite site.

The Whittaker Corp. made ammunition rounds, boosters, more flares, more detonators, signal cartridges, glow plugs (used to heat the combustion chamber of diesel engines in cold conditions), tracer and pyrophoric pellets (fragments that spark spontaneously), igniters, ignition compositions, explosive bolts (designed to separate cleanly along a set fracture), powder charges, rocket motors, gas generators and missile parts.

Perchlorate has been shown to interfere with uptake of iodide by the thyroid gland and to thereby reduce the production of thyroid hormones, leading to adverse affects associated with inadequate hormone levels.


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