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Toxic Plume Not Leaking Into Wells

October 04, 2003|From a Times staff writer

SAN BERNARDINO — A 4,000-foot plume of contaminated soil exists under a landfill owned by San Bernardino County, but it is not the source of perchlorate that is leaking into area drinking wells, according to a study released Friday.

The 12-month study, commissioned by the county, involved tests in 70 wells and hundreds of soil and groundwater samples, according to GeoLogic Associates, the San Bernardino-based company hired to conduct the study.

Perchlorate is a rocket fuel ingredient that has been found in groundwater supplies in Colton, Fontana, Redlands, Rialto and other places in California.

Perchlorate, a remnant of weapons developed in the 1950s and early 1960s, is considered by scientists to be a serious threat to public health when it seeps into groundwater supplies.

The San Bernardino County study concluded that the 4,000-foot perchlorate-contaminated plume stops more than 2,000 feet away from the closest production well.

If accurate, the study could clear the county of responsibility for the water contamination in the Chino Basin.

But county officials say the county is still responsible for cleaning the 4,000-foot plume before it seeps into the groundwater.

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