In late November of 2010, a state of emergency for San Bernardino County was declared by the govenor of California after perchlorate was detected in the City of Barstow’s drinking water. Perchlorate, a type of salt derived from perchloric acid, has been found in drinking water throughout the United States. It can interfere with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. Before the Thanksfgiving holiday, the Golden State Water Company (Golden State), the water purveyor for the city of Barstow, detected perchlorate above the California state limit of 6 parts per billion (ppb) in the drinking water supply. Golden State issued a water advisory asking customers to not drink any water until further notice. Golden State tested all of its public wells throughout the city and found one well that contained perchlorate. That well was immediately shut down shut down and isolated from the rest of the public water distribution system. In early December of 2010, Senator Feinstein requested that the State Regional Water Board (State) look into the situation and provide support where needed. On December 8, the State requested assistance from the Region 9 USEPA (EPA). Specifically the EPA was asked to assist in the identification of potential sources of groundwater contamination.
In late December the EPA Region 9, Emergency Response Section (ERS) conducted a screening assessment at a residential property on Poplar Street in Barstow, CA. The property was a suspected source due to historical fire department records and the fact that the residence had been occupied by the former owner/operator of Mojave Pyrotechnics, Inc., a defunct pyrotechnics manufacturing company that operated in Barstow in the 1980s. Analytical results from soil samples collected during the assessment documented that perchlorate is in the soil. A fact sheet discussing the results of the assessment as well as health advisory information was created by the Regional Water Board and USEPA and distributed to the community.
Removal assessments were conducted by ERS in March and August of 2011, and April of 2012. The March and April assessments focused on the residential property on Poplar Street. The August assessment included additional sampling at the residential property on Polar Street as well as soil sampling at the property where the former manufacturing company had operated on N. Yucca Street. Analytical data results indicate that (1) perchlorate contamination is concentrated in two distinct areas on the residential property and vertically extends to the groundwater; (2) there is no significant perchlorate concentrations in the soil samples collected at the former business location on N. Yucca Street.
In addition to the soil sampling, a geophysical survey of the residential property was performed as part of the March assessment activities. The geophysical survey was conducted by the USEPA Environmental Response Team. The results of the survey concluded that there were no buried drums on the residential property.
In the Early part of 2011, the state regional water board tested 35 private water wells near the Poplar Street residential property. In December 2011 the state conducted a groundwater assessment. They sampled groundwater from 22 temporary wells. Initial data suggests that the perchlorate plume is generally contained between the source area (Poplar Street) and the Soap Mine Road production well, approximately 3,000 feet away. There is an exception or anomaly where it is suspected that the perchlorate contaminated groundwater made its way into a utility trench containing pipelines which traverse the area and was able to migrate past Highway 15. All analytical data is based on samples collected at the very top of the saturated zone. In June of 2011 a second fact sheet was created summarizing assessment activities by both USEPA and the STATE.
The ERS will conduct a removal action in late 2012.