Whittaker fights toxics measure

first_imgPerchlorate is a chemical residue from rocket fuel that has been implicated in thyroid problems in humans. Lardiere said the National Academy of Sciences and the EPA have reached different conclusions about proposed cleanup levels than the state EPA, and he points out that the state should be in line with national standards. “We do think (the bill) is significant; we acted on it as soon as we knew,” Lardiere said. “The most important thing is to have a rational standard protective of human health. We’re not criticizing the Department of Health Services, we’re trying to say there is a national debate on this chemical (perchlorate.) California seems to be going in a different direction than the nation. That’s the question we’re asking.” “We don’t agree with the DHS’s analysis of costs,” he said. The cost to clean up California water systems is estimated at nearly $24 million a year. The old Bermite plant manufactured and tested a number of explosives from 1934 to 1987, including dynamite, practice bombs, flares, fireworks, igniters, ammunition rounds and rocket motors. The devices contained lead azide, red phosphorus and barium. Perchlorate is the major contaminant that remains. The Assembly approved Soto’s measure, 46-31, on Aug. 23, and, though in a largely bipartisan effort, the Senate approved the measure, 29-11, on Aug. 29. Santa Clarita’s representatives, Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, and Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Granada Hills, opposed the measure. Runner, vice chairman of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, was unavailable for comment Tuesday, but his office said this is one of many measures passed by the Legislature trying to add more regulations that are not based on scientific evidence. “The senator is concerned this is just another step to the march of unnecessary over-regulation and he advocates an approach that’s based on scientific evidence,” said Becky Warren, Runner’s legislative director. The governor must sign or veto the measure by Sept. 30. [email protected] (661) 257-5255160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA CLARITA – Attorneys for Whittaker-Bermite – whose 996-acre contaminated site in the heart of town is undergoing cleanup – have urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to nix a bill approved by the state Legislature that would tighten standards for perchlorate and other chemicals in drinking water. The bill’s author disagrees with Whittaker’s stance and hopes the governor will disregard it. “It is my understanding that Whittaker is principally responsible for contamination in the Santa Clarita area, and it does not surprise me that a major polluter would put out misinformation in the hopes of persuading Governor Schwarzenegger to veto my bill for clean water,” said state Sen. Nell Soto, D-Ontario, who wrote Senate Bill 187. “It is not uncommon for polluters who wish to avoid paying cleanup costs to claim that the contamination is harmless, but we have many reasons to fear the adverse impacts of perchlorate and I’m confident that the governor will ignore false claims and do what’s right for the people of California.” Senate Bill 187 would make minor changes in the process used for developing drinking water standards. The changes would be options, not mandates, that the Department of Health Services and a branch of the California Environmental Protection Agency would follow. The Governor’s Office says he has not yet taken a position on the measure. Contaminants in the soil and groundwater remain from five decades of weapons manufacturing and testing on the 996-acre Whittaker-Bermite site in the middle of town. The state Department of Toxic Substances Control has begun its cleanup of the soil and the groundwater investigation is in the final stages. Bermite, its insurer and others are paying for the cleanup. Attorney Eric Lardiere’s Sept. 6 letter sent to the governor says, “We are opposed to this legislation because it is premature and burdensome to essential industries with the (state), particularly the aerospace industry, which propelled California into its modern economic prosperity and gave birth to the (information technology) industry.” It says the bill would encourage a more stringent standard for perchlorate than the one set by the Department of Health Services. At the same time, the federal government has not yet determined an appropriate nationwide standard, the letter said. last_img read more