U.S. Water News Online
BOSTON -- The state Department of Public Health has ordered
a study of Cape Cod newborns to determine if they have been harmed by
water contamination caused by the Massachusetts Military Reservation.
``If we can determine whether or not there are impacts, it would
lead us to look at other health impacts in a larger study,'' Bureau
of Environmental Health Director Suzanne Condon said.
The study will use data from mandatory health screenings of all
newborns in the state and check the results against thyroid readings
from 750 babies born in Bourne between 1999 and 2001.
Perchlorate, a pollutant associated with rocket fuel that's
suspected of causing thyroid disease, showed up in Bourne's water
supply, forcing the community to connect to an alternate supply,
provided by the military.
The Bourne Water District shut down three of its six wells this
spring after officials discovered trace amounts of perchlorate had
leaked in from the military reservation.
The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that perchlorate
can cause thyroid problems, but has not decided on how much is too
much. A draft of a new report suggests 1 part per billion is a safe
standard, while over the last decade the agency has suggested a safe
range is 4 to 18 parts per billion.
``What is on the minds of a lot of people are repeated statements
from the EPA that they don't know the impacts of perchlorate on
health,'' said Bourne resident Bob Gray, 52. ``There is always that
concern that something is lurking out there we're not testing for.''
During decades of detonations, testing, burning and burying of
numerous amounts of rockets, grenades, munitions and other chemicals,
most people didn't realize that directly underneath the reservation
was the sole source of Cape Cod's drinking supply.
The EPA placed the reservation on its Superfund list in 1989 after
it found extensive groundwater contamination, including significant
amounts of chemical and fuel oil spills that had leaked from the Otis
The agency ordered the National Guard in 1997 to stop training
exercises that used explosives, and later ordered the Guard to
cleanup the northern two-thirds of the reservation, where it
``Our main goal now is finding out exactly where this
(perchlorate) is coming from and take action,'' said Tina Dolen, an
environmentalist and Falmouth resident who was hired the National
Guard to help in its investigation and cleanup.
``We have acted fast,'' Dolen said. ``We feel it's our
responsibility and we are paying for the investigation and cleanup in
whatever way we need to.''
The military paid for and built the $2.5 million, 3-mile water
line that was recently dedicated and placed into service.
Bourne water officials say they are concerned that no one has
found the source of the perchlorate leak and the chemical can appear
one day in monitoring wells and disappear the next.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.