Feb 18, 2016

NRDC Sues EPA to Force It to Limit Perchlorate in Drinking Water

The Natural Resources Defense Council sued the Environmental Protection Agency in federal court in New York today to force it to set limits on perchlorate.  Perchlorate is a toxic chemical that has been detected in the drinking water systems that serve up to 16.6 million Americans.  Even at low levels, it can present serious health risks to children and pregnant women ... Perchlorate has been widely used by the military and defense industries.  It is commonly used in rocket fuel, fireworks and explosives.  It is highly soluble in water, and can move quickly into ground and surface water when it contaminates soil.  Five years ago — on February 11, 2011 — after reviewing 39,000 comments, the EPA acknowledged its duty to regulate perchlorate under the Safe Water Drinking Act ... That finding by EPA triggered two deadlines under the Safe Drinking Water Act:  EPA had 2 years to propose safeguards, and another 18 months to finalize them.  EPA has missed both deadlines.
Press Release
February 18, 2016
Once EPA has determined to regulate a new chemical under the Act, it must issue a proposed regulation for that chemical “not later” than twenty-four months after making the determination to regulate, and must issue a final regulation within eighteen months thereafter ...  EPA had a mandatory duty to propose perchlorate regulations no later than February 11, 2013, and a mandatory duty to finalize those regulations no later than August 11, 2014.  EPA has neither proposed nor finalized any limits on perchlorate in drinking water.  These failures violate express statutory deadlines contained in the Safe Drinking Water Act and jeopardize human health.  NRDC therefore seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against EPA for failure to fulfill the agency’s nondiscretionary duties under the Act ...
Perchlorate contamination in drinking water systems poses a threat to human health.  When ingested, perchlorate impairs the uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland, which disrupts thyroid hormone production.  Thyroid hormone is critical to many aspects of growth and metabolism.  Its role in brain development during pre-natal and post-natal growth is especially vital.  As a result, fetuses, infants, and young children are particularly vulnerable to perchlorate ingestion.  Scientific studies have linked decreased thyroid function in pregnant women, infants, and children to delayed development, reduced growth, and impaired learning capabilities.  Even small reductions in thyroid hormone levels can be associated with abnormal brain development and lower cognitive function in children.
U.S. District Court
February 18, 2016

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