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  • Writer's pictureTap Water Facts

Rocket Fuel Is Seeping Into Our Water Supply

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical that is used to produce rocket fuel, fireworks, flares, and explosives. Primary federal users of perchlorate include the Department of Defense, NASA, and the Department of Energy.

Monitored testing from 2001 to 2005 by the EPA showed that “153 drinking water sources in 26 states contain Perchlorate.” By EPA's own admission, Perchlorate is linked to thyroid problems in pregnant women and young children, among other things.

How is a toxic rocket fuel chemical getting into tap water in America? The answer is usually the result of environmental contamination from historic aerospace or other industrial operations that used or use, store, or dispose of Perchlorate and its salt.

For example, Perchlorate was detected in the Lower Colorado River in 1997.  The Perchlorate was traced upstream to the Las Vegas Wash, which discharges into Lake Mead, the largest artificial lake in the United States and a major supply of drinking and irrigation water for the American Southwest.  Located upstream from the detection point in the Las Vegas Wash were two Perchlorate manufacturers.

It was ultimately determined that Perchlorate was entering the Las Vegas Wash through contaminated groundwater and surface water stemming from Kerr-McGee, a manufacturing facility near Henderson, Nevada. Perchlorate-contaminated groundwater was also found to originate from the former Pacific Engineering and Production Company of Nevada (PEPCON) site, a chemical manufacturing facility owned by American Pacific Corporation (AMPAC).

Despite recent efforts by the EPA to increase regulation of Perchlorate in our tap water, we can't assume that we are now safe from this very dangerous chemical.

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