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California Senator Feinstein to Introduce Bill to Clean up Perchlorate

Sen. Feinstein wants to tackle perchlorate
Traces of rocket-fuel chemical have shown up in valley lettuce
The Salinas Californian

When the U.S. Senate convenes later this month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein
plans to propose legislation that would help prevent further
contamination of food and water supplies from a rocket-fuel chemical
called perchlorate.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is promising to seek federal legislation this
month that would help protect the nation's food and water supplies from
perchlorate, a rocket-fuel chemical that's been found in trace amounts
in Salinas Valley lettuce.

Feinstein proposes legislation that would spend $200 million to identify
and clean up perchlorate sources and provide grants for technologies to
clean up existing contamination. She also plans to seek a new federal
limit for perchlorate in drinking water and hold perchlorate polluters
responsible for cleanup efforts.

The issue came home this fall with the revelation that surveys conducted
in 2003 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found extremely small
amounts of the chemical in samples of green leaf, iceberg, red leaf, and
romaine lettuce. from the Salinas Valley. Perchlorate also turned up in
350 drinking water sources in California.

Health studies over the past decade have shown high doses of perchlorate
over a long period of time can affect the thyroid gland's ability to
make essential hormones and can lead to thyroid gland tumors.

"It is imperative that we reduce the perchlorate in our drinking water
and protect Californians, especially pregnant women, the unborn,
infants, and young children from this threat to their health," Feinstein
said in a prepared statement.

Bob Roach, assistant Monterey County agricultural commissioner, said
he's glad to see greater attention being paid to what a significant
issue for California's ag industry.

"I support any efforts that will enhance the cleanup and give us more
information on its source," Roach said.

Just how perchlorate ended up in Salinas Valley lettuce remains a
mystery, he said.

The FDA study, released in November, found perchlorate in 90 percent of
lettuce samples taken in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and New
Jersey and 101 of 104 samples taken in retail stores around the country.

Last year, Feinstein was able to secure $2.775 million in appropriations
funding to research the scope of perchlorate contamination in California
and to clean up wells that have been contaminated. She secured an
additional $6.5 million in perchlorate cleanup funding as part of the
Defense Department's appropriations bill.