Talk:Perchlorate Study Group

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Rocket fuel in the environment has been a national security secret since March, 1964, when the California Department of Water Resources issued Bulletin No. 133, Folsom-East Sacramento Ground Water Quality Investigation. The purpose of this report was to address concerns about contamination originating from the Aerojet facility in eastern Sacramento County (currently the City of Rancho Cordova.) Page 44 of this document states, "Certain compounds that may degrade ground waters or cannot be safely disposed of, such as ammonium and potassium perchlorate and contaminated trichloroethylene, are collected and sealed in approved containers and dumped at sea in an approved dumping area." Yet the data tables of this report maintain that "ClO4," or perchlorate, was detected at levels of 1000 to 2000 ppb in the drinking water supply wells of what is now Rancho Cordova. This perchlorate monitoring stopped on February 6, 1963 at the ranch of George Waegell, an antiwar activist whose potential involvement in the problem in all likelihood triggered an evaluation by the then-guardians of homeland security at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency.

George had protested the internment of his Japanese neighbors during World War II, and then dodged the draft and refused to serve in the Korean War. In 1961 George had journeyed to Cuba to independently evaluate the situation there. When the Bay of Pigs invasion occurred, curious George was jailed by Castro for two weeks, and then sent home. George's past experiences no doubt came to the attention of Aerojet Vice President Bill Raborn, who as a Navy admiral was the father of the Polaris missile and the single individual most responsible for Rancho Cordova's perchlorate problem. The Polaris's engines had been developed at Aerojet. Raborn's mentor was Chief of Naval Operations Arleigh Burke, who had engaged in a shouting match with Jack Kennedy over the President's refusal to provide carrier air support for the Bay of Pigs landing. Both Burke and Raborn resigned from the Navy soon thereafter. Raborn returned to government service in April, 1965, as director of the Central Intelligence Agency two weeks after the Marines landed in Vietnam and the very day the Marines landed in the Dominican Republic.

Council on Water Quality spokesman and former California Environmental Protection Agency director James Strock is one of a long line of bureaucratic guardians of Raborn's secret. When Sacramento County began monitoring Rancho Cordova's perchlorate again in 1979, Ronald Reagan named Aerojet Vice President for Liquid Rocket Operations Rita Lavelle as the first head of the Superfund. Sacramento County then stopped monitoring perchlorate in Rancho Cordova, as the problem was now a federal issue covered under the Superfund. Lavelle subsequently went to jail for perjury regarding irregularities at the Stringfellow Acid Pit, another major secret perchlorate site. The Lavelle incident was labeled "Sewergate" by the newspapers of the day.

In 1995 James Strock as head of California Environmental Protection Agency requested that both Aerojet and Stringfellow be delisted from the Superfund, as he felt the cleanups for those two sites were essentially complete. The US Environmental Protection Agency refused, citing the conflict of interest inherent in the State of California's ownership and liability at Stringfellow. When California Department of Toxic Control agent Duncan Austin began questioning the presence of perchlorate in Rancho Cordova's drinking water in November, 1996, Strock's management team reassigned Austin away from Aerojet to cleanup radioactive beagle excrement at a Department of Energy project housed at the University of California at Davis. Pressure from residents of Rancho Cordova, and a threat by the Folsom Cordova Unified School District to independently test their school wells for perchlorate, forced Aerojet to publically acknowledge the presence of perchlorate in Rancho Cordova's drinking water on February 11, 1997. Strock resigned as head of California Environmental Protection Agency in March, 1997 when perchlorate in Rancho Cordova's water was announced in the Sacramento Bee. After a stint in the private sector facilitating California's disasterous deregulation of electricity, Strock began working as a spokesman for the Council on Water Quality.