COMMISSIONER MARTIN REFUTES STATEMENT BY SENATOR BUONO
WANTS GOOD SCIENCE TO BE BASIS OF PERCHLORATE RULES
(10/P35) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today refuted a statement by Senator Barbara Buono, who contended he has done an “about face’’ on setting drinking water standards for the chemical perchlorate in New Jersey.
“I have not changed my position at all,’’ said Commissioner Martin. “From the start, I have insisted we need good, reliable data and scientific information before making such an important decision on water standards. We anticipate getting that information this summer, when we expect the federal EPA to share with us the results of research they have done and their direction on perchlorates.’’
That science should help New Jersey develop standards, possibly this year, which could be more intelligently designed, based on better facts and updated studies.
Commissioner Martin’s position has been consistent on this issue, including statements made during his confirmation hearing in late March and in testimony before the state Senate, including Senator Buono, last month.
Senator Buono, in a recent statement, contended the Commissioner first refused to set perchlorate standards, and subsequently relented. But the Commissioner has been clear from the outset that he just requires solid facts and scientific evidence to back up any state rules.
"I have committed to base final DEP decisions on a thorough review of all available science,’’ said Commissioner Martin. “So it is very important that our facts are accurate and we are transparent when having a public dialogue on any issue.”
March 16 was the deadline for Commissioner Martin to sign proposed regulations that would have set a perchlorate standard of 5 parts per billion for New Jersey’s water providers. The rule proposed that public water systems test for perchlorate and install treatment systems if levels exceed this standard for the substance found in some well systems in the state.
“I discussed this at great length with the experts at the federal Environmental Protection Agency as well as DEP’s experts,” Commissioner Martin said.
“I simply was not convinced that we had the most complete data on what the appropriate levels should be, given the fact that the EPA will be deciding whether to regulate perchlorate and at what level this summer. The EPA has the most up-to-date scientific information. We want to avail ourselves of the significant science emerging at the national level, so I decided to wait and get this decision right. Once we have all the necessary data, a decision will be made.”
The EPA has been studying the issue of drinking water standards for perchlorate for a number of years, gathering public information and working with the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council. The EPA is considering standards for perchlorate ranging from 15 parts per billion to as low as 2 parts per billion. Findings from a current EPA review of the issue are due to be released this summer.
The EPA currently has a guidance protocol that allows water suppliers to sample for perchlorate. This protocol recommends suppliers treat for perchlorate if levels are 15 parts per billion or higher
The DEP is performing studies to track down possible sources of the chemical in the environment. Most perchlorate manufactured in this country was used as an ingredient in solid fuel for rockets and missiles. Perchlorate-based chemicals are also used in safety flares, fireworks, matches and some lubricating oils. It is also found in some fertilizers.
New Jersey’s proposed rule would have also required owners of properties with private wells to add perchlorate to the list of contaminants they must test for during real estate transactions as required by state law.