EPA announced groundbreaking for a water treatment facility that will remove perchlorate and other chemicals from groundwater near NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Superfund site. Approximately 7,000 gallons per minute of perchlorate and volatile organic compounds will be removed from groundwater wells. The treated groundwater will serve as drinking water for area residents.
This move is quite a turnabout for NASA. Three years ago, NASA released a study which concluded that the dumping of rocket fuel by the US Army some 50 years ago at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) did not cause pollution now making much of the city’s groundwater undrinkable. Apparently NASA’s earlier study was somewhat erroneous because NASA is funding construction and operating costs of the treatment plant which NASA hopes to complete by 2010. The City of Pasadena will own and operate the plant
Approximately 120,840 people live within four miles of the site, and an estimated 68,000 people obtain drinking water from municipal wells within that area. Surrounding Pasadena water wells have been shut down due to perchlorate and volatile organic compounds contamination.
Perchlorate is a component of solid rocket fuel and certain types of fertilizers, and can affect the thyroid gland. Volatile organic compounds are used decades as industrial cleaning solvents, and can cause nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, and liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage.
Perchlorate, a rocket fuel component pollutes nine of Pasadena’s 16 underground drinking wells, can affect function of the hormone-producing thyroid gland — important for a healthy metabolism in adults and essential to skeletal and nervous system development in infants and fetuses.