The site of a former ammunition storage facility, Rialto, California is suffering from potential ordnance and explosives contamination that may pose a health risk to the city's 100,000 residents. During and after World War II, the Pentagon operated the Rialto Ammunition Storage Point, a way station for arms shipments in California. For over 50 years the U.S. military manufactured and stored thousands of missiles in the city. A majority of the weaponry contained rocket fuel, which is made with a toxic chemical known as perchlorate
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suspects that the drinking water supplies of nearly 20 million people in California, Arizona and Nevada are contaminated with perchlorate. Five of Rialto's 15 wells (the city uses groundwater for its drinking supply) have been closed due to perchlorate contamination. In adults, exposure to perchlorate may cause cancer
, hair loss
, unexplained weight gain, and decreased libido. The chemical may also interfere with growth hormone production in fetuses.
In July 2003, the Defense Department announced that it would investigate perchlorate contamination in Rialto but would not initiate a cleanup until the EPA agreed to a maximum containment level for perchlorate in drinking water. The EPA says 1 part per billion is safe while the Defense Department says as much as 200 parts per billion is nontoxic. Public interest groups and environmentalist say it could be years until an agreement is met.
See your doctor if you live in Rialto and you have experienced serious health problems. In addition, it may be important to contact an attorney
who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits
within which you must commence suit.
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