Aug 21, 2003

Perchlorate Among Plans at Boeing

In response to a state order, the Boeing Co. released a preliminary plan surrounding its Rocketdyne test site, which the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) cited having unsafe levels of perchlorate. Boeing stated that the report from the DTSC only proved that the contaminant could not be traced to the site.

Perchlorate reportedly has been detected at the Rocketdyne field laboratory at levels 400 times those considered safe.

In the plan submitted to DTSC, the Regional Water Quality Control Board and other agencies, Boeing stated that it planned to sink new wells, expand groundwater testing and research new ways to contain perchlorate, reported an article in the LA Daily News.

DTSC discovered unsafe levels of perchlorate between the hilltop lab and 18 wells on the Simi Valley floor. Boeing disagreed stating that its tests of the "Bathtub Well" located less than a mile of the rocket and nuclear test site, the following month revealed no perchlorate contamination.

The Boeing draft called for four new wells on the north side of its laboratory and extensive monitoring of the Bathtub Well and dozens of other wells. It also called for sediment sampling at more than 60 locations as well as tests of water runoff from those locations. An evaluation of the hydrogeology of the area, and how to contain known quantities of perchlorate, is also in the works.

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical. Most of the perchlorate manufactured in the United States is used as the primary ingredient of solid rocket propellant. Wastes from the manufacture and improper disposal of perchlorate-containing chemicals are increasingly being discovered in soil and water.

Several types of treatment systems designed to reduce perchlorate concentrations are operating around the United States, reducing perchlorate to below the 4 ppb quantitation level. Biological treatment and ion (anion) exchange systems are among the technologies that are being used, with additional treatment technologies under development.

A final plan is expected from Boeing by year's end.