Enivronmental Working Group (EWG): Pentagon & Polluters Wage 50-Year Fight Against Rocket Fuel Safety Standards
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2008
CONTACT: Enivronmental Working Group (EWG)
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Pentagon & Polluters Wage 50-Year Fight Against Rocket Fuel Safety Standards
Senate Committee Holds Hearings on Perchlorate in Drinking Water
WASHINGTON, DC - May 6 - For almost 50 years, the federal government, defense
contractors and the chemical industry have worked together to block public
health protections against a component of rocket fuel that can disrupt
childrenıs growth and development, Environmental Working Group (EWG) told a
Senate committee Tuesday.
EWG Executive Director Richard Wiles testified before the Senate Environment
and Public Works Committee at a hearing on legislation by committee Chair
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to set national safety standards for perchlorate in
drinking water. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).
³Perchlorate provides a textbook example of a corrupted health protection
system, where polluters, the Pentagon, the White House and the EPA have
conspired to block health protections in order to pad budgets, curry
political favor, and protect corporate profits,² said Wiles.
Perchlorate has leaked from hundreds of military installations and defense
plants nationwide, contaminating drinking water in at least 28 states.
Studies by EWG, academic researchers and the Centers for Disease Control
have found perchlorate in food, cowıs milk, human breast milk and the bodies
of virtually every American.
³All the pieces needed to support strong health protections are in place,²
said Wiles. ³It is rare that science provides us with such a clear picture
of a pollutantıs harmful effects . . . Yet this Administration has failed to
act.² The reason, he said, is that perchlorate is ³a nightmare of epic
proportions for the Department of Defense and its contractors, and rather
than address it head-on, they have spent 50 years and millions of dollars
trying to avoid it. ³
Among the tactics the opponents of perchlorate standards have deployed:
In 1962, rocket fuel manufacturers gained seats on a Department of Defense
working group on propellants, where they worked to block health protections.
In 2002, a task force that included major defense contractors, the
Pentagon and perchlorate makers tampered with a an article on perchlorateıs
health effects in a leading academic journal, persuading the editors to
rewrite it without the authorıs knowledge or permission.
In 2005, the White House stacked a National Academy of Science panel
charged with assessing the health risks of perchlorate with paid consultants
to the rocket fuel industry, resulting in a recommended safe exposure level
that is many times higher than the low doses supported by independent
Wiles urged the committee to pass Boxerıs legislation, saying: ³It is
abundantly clear that without congressional intervention the public will not
receive the protection that is so clearly justified by the science, and so
obviously necessary given universal human exposure and clearly identified
high-risk populations including infants, children, and pregnant women.²
Beginning in 2000, a series of EWG research reports has documented and
advocated solutions for perchlorate pollution problems in California and at
the federal level. EWG scientists challenged the use of humans in
perchlorate toxicity experiments at Loma Linda University, published the
first survey of perchlorate-contaminated drinking water supplies nationwide,
and commissioned laboratory studies that documented the presence of
perchlorate in lettuce, cow's milk and human mothers' milk. EWG has urged
state and federal regulators to adopt stringent, science-based health
standards for perchlorate in water in order fully to protect infants and
children, who are exceptionally vulnerable to the chemical.
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses
the power of information to protect human health and the environment.