Article courtesy of Jim Steignberg | December 10, 2012 | Daily Bulletin
BARSTOW – After removing 98 truckloads of perchlorate-contaminated soil, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday purged a 5-acre parcel of residential property of a pollution source, which for a brief period in 2010 halted the drinking use of this city’s water supply.
The residence, on Poplar Street, had been occupied by the former owner of Mojave Pryrotechnics, a defunct pyrotechnics manufacturing company that operated in the 1980s.
In late November 2010, a state of emergency was declared in San Bernardino County after perchlorate was detected – above the state limit of 6 parts per billion – in the city of Barstow’s drinking water.
As a result, Golden State Water Co., the water supplier for the city of Barstow, asked customers not to drink the water coming into their homes and businesses.
After testing all its wells, the company found one well that was the perchlorate source and took it off line.
Because the source had been shut down, Golden State’s water was later reinstated as safe for consumption.
Following an investigation, the contamination source was traced to the property where the deceased owner of Mojave Pyrotechnics had stored perchlorate-laced chemicals he no longer needed.
During the 1980s, the company provided explosives used to provide realism in simulated battlefield scenarios at the Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin, officials said.
That business ended after another company won the bidding to bring that pyrotechnic “realism” to the NTC, officials said.
After years of storage, perchlorate-containing materials either “accidentally or intentionally” spilled onto the ground where they seeped into the groundwater, said Will Duncan, an on-scene coordinator for the EPA.
The contaminated soil – which was removed to a level of three feet – was hauled to U.S. Ecology landfill in Nevada, Duncan said.
The EPA worked closely with the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, which was the lead agency in the investigation to find the water pollution’s source.