Copper Industry Group Seeks to Correct Record In Flawed California Environmental Impact Report

September 14, 1998


NEW YORK - The Copper Development Association has filed a detailed response to the "Draft Environmental Impact Report for CPVC Pipe for Use for Potable Water Piping in Residential Buildings" with the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The HCD draft report, released in July, was part of an effort that would allow CPVC pipe to be used along with copper tubing for domestic water distribution systems. CPVC pipe is not permitted under current California codes.

"It is not our goal to keep plastic pipe out of California," says Dr. Dale Peters, CDA's vice president for environmental matters. "But we do want to set the record straight where the report contains misinformation and false implications about the environmental effects of copper."

CDA's 100-page response corrects suggestions that corrosion of copper pipe contributes to excessive levels of copper in San Francisco Bay and that the use of CPVC pipe will significantly reduce copper levels in the water and sediments. Independent experts, writing comments for CDA, say the draft report overstates the extent to which Bay waters are affected by copper in general, and by copper tube in particular. According to CDA, the draft report fails to account for naturally occurring sources of copper in the Bay and erroneously concludes that copper pipe is a significant contaminant.

CDA points out that the HCD incorrectly based its analysis on a single point source from the Bay using an outdated water quality study and then attempted to extrapolate those results to other bodies of water throughout the state. Citing water chemistry analyses from two dozen monitoring stations around San Francisco Bay, the CDA response asserts that copper concentrations have not exceeded water quality standards in recent years, nor is there any evidence that copper concentrations have been harmful to aquatic life. The industry group also points to data showing that overall levels of copper released to the Bay have actually decreased during the last 10 years.

"Because California has a strong reputation for making environmental laws based on reliable scientific information, the state's policies are extremely influential throughout the USA and all the developed nations," Dr. Peters says. "That's why we are certain that HCD wants complete and accurate information. CDA is in a good position to help HCD with the scientific analyses needed to prepare its final report. We believe our input serves the interests of the department and the community at large, as well as those of the copper industry."