NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2007 -- (House of Representatives - May 11, 2006)
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Mr. BACA. Mr. Chairman, first of all, I would like to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Hunter) and, of course, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton) too, as well, and I would like to also thank Congressman Dreier, Congressman Lewis, and Congressman Pombo in helping us work with this simple amendment that basically asks the Department of Defense to require a study of the perchlorate contamination at formerly utilized defense sites, otherwise known as FUDS.
The amendment also requires an assessment of what military installations or contractors have stored perchlorate. This study will help us have a national understanding of this problem that has so far been seen in our region.
Southern California, the Bay Area, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, are only a few of the regions affected. Is this happening in your State?
Cities and counties across the country are closing their groundwater wells due to perchlorate contamination. From most accounts, 90 percent of perchlorate in water comes from a Federal source, primarily from former military sites and other Department of Defense installations.
This volatile organic compound is a rocket fuel additive that has been found to be harmful to thyroid function. 319 groundwater wells are impacted in California alone, with 78 of them in my district; and 186 sources in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange Counties have been impacted.
Several States throughout the county are now waking to a similar problem and are also seeing similar effects in their areas.
Perchlorate does not just affect the drinking water supply, but our food supplies as well. So it does affect supplies. It has been reported in lettuce in the Imperial Valley which relies on the Colorado River for irrigation, and perchlorate has been found in milk.
Hardworking families living in the United States with large military and aerospace facilities are not at fault and should not have to pay for a federally created problem.
Many communities cannot afford costly toxic cleanups, and the alternative is no better. Cities are being forced to raise water rates to outrageous levels, forgo dust control on highways to meet clean air requirements, and to truck in water from other regions.
For the 43rd Congressional District of California and many other districts throughout the country, the Federal Government needs to step up and take responsibility. That is basically what we are asking is just the Federal Government to take responsibility and do a study.
We need to fully understand the scope of the problems so we can protect our children and protect the elderly from this dangerous health risk.
The House of Representatives has already twice passed a bill I introduced, H.R. 18, the Southern California Ground Remediation Act, which authorized $50 million for groundwater remediation, including perchlorate. Meanwhile, the Senate has not allowed this bill to become law. It is clear my colleagues in the House support this measure.
But our communities cannot wait any longer. That is why I have introduced this amendment to study the perchlorate contamination legacy from FUDS. This is required to advance the body of research already under way.
Ultimately, we must remember that this is a federally created problem; and, hence, the solution must be Federal as well.
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