Environment & Energy Report

It’s Rocket Science: EPA Needs Six More Months to Study Perchlorate

Aug. 31, 2018, 5:11 PM

The EPA needs another six months to set new limits on a rocket fuel chemical in drinking water after being inundated with new research, according to an Aug. 30 court filing.

The Environmental Protection Agency has received so much feedback from independent scientists tasked with peer reviewing its models of how the chemical, perchlorate, affects the thyroid, that the agency doesn’t think it can meet an Oct. 31 deadline to adopt regulations.

The agency agreed in 2016 to introduce new binding limits on perchlorate in drinking water this year in response to a lawsuit from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The chemical is a component of rocket fuel and fireworks that also was used to control static electricity in food packaging. It can cause thyroid problems when consumed and it’s been found in drinking water supplies across the country.

The NRDC has been pushing the EPA to regulate perchlorate in water for years, and said in a blog post that the agency has known it needed to place limits on the chemical since at least 2011.

A 2005 EPA survey of drinking water systems found perchlorate in the water of around 160 different utilities that serve 11 million people in 26 different states and two territories.

NRDC attorneys didn’t respond to emails seeking comment, but the EPA’s brief asking for an extension on its deadline notes that the environmental group doesn’t consent to this extension.

The case is Nat. Res. Def. Council v. EPA, S.D.N.Y., No. 2:16-cv-01251, 8/30/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Schultz in Washington at dschultz@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bloombergenvironment.com

To read more articles log in. To learn more about a subscription click here.