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All I Want For Christmas
Is For The U.S. Military To Stop Polluting Current & Former Bases And Their Surrounding Communities & Trying To Deny Or Cover It Up
I often hear from families who live on military bases, near former bases or communities nearby, asking for help about water contamination and other toxins. Too many of them are suffering from severe health issues, and it needs to stop.
The United States spends more than any other country on its military, and just last week lawmakers passed a $768 billion defense policy bill, which would increase the Pentagon’s budget by roughly $24 billion.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is one of the worst polluters in the world. Its footprint is bigger than any corporation—with toxins spread across 40 million acres of American soil. The EPA has identified at least 149 current and former military bases with groundwater contamination, and that number is always rising.
More than two-thirds of all Superfund sites are closely connected to the military. The drinking water and soil at these bases has been polluted by a range of dangerous chemicals leftover from military activities, including jet fuel, cleaning products, degreasing solvents, firefighting foams, explosives, and more.
These bases are scattered throughout the American landscape from radioactive waste found in McClellan Air Force Base near Sacramento, California, to PFAS found in Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, to PCBs, chemical warfare agents, and radioactive waste found at former army installation Fort McClellan near Anniston, Alabama.
Just outside Salt Lake City, Utah, sits Hill Air Force Base, which is both a Superfund site and one of the state’s largest employers. The EPA has found more than 60 chemicals in the soil and groundwater, describing the situation as having an “unsafe level of contamination” and that there’s “a reasonable expectation that people could be exposed.”
These are just a few examples of the extensive contamination that threatens the health of the people who have lived and worked on these bases as well as the nearby communities that people call home.
Poisoned Water in Paradise
The most recent scandal, which is largely missing from mainstream news headlines, is how the U.S. Navy poisoned the largest water supply in O’ahu, Hawaii.
Red Hill is a Navy fuel storage facility located near Pearl Harbor with 180 million gallons of jet and diesel fuel that sit about 100 feet above a freshwater aquifer.
Military families and other residents started complaining about their water describing symptoms like cramps, headaches, rashes and more after drinking their water. The Navy denied any issues and said the water was safe to drink.
About 93,000 people in the area depend on that water system, and almost 1,000 military households complained about the tap water.
Now, we’re learning that fuel from the Red Hill base has been leaking into the water aquifer for months.
At a recent press conference, Hawaii Rep. Kai Kahele said that the Navy “is currently experiencing a crisis of astronomical proportions in Hawaii. People are getting sick. Animals are getting sick. And our military families need answers and the island of Oahu needs answers.”
The aquifer was shut down on November 28, and water samples have showed the presence of petroleum products.
The numbers never lie. Samples collected from the Navy’s Red Hill drinking water shaft tested positive for high levels of gasoline and diesel range hydrocarbons.
Are you kidding me?!?
Questions are now arising of how long the Navy knew they had a problem and how long it will take to clean up this mess.
Many families have fled their homes and relocated into hotels. These people should be compensated! It could honestly take years or decades to address the scope of this problem.
“We are aiming for a new normal: One where this never happens again,” said Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro in a statement. “The Department is determined and committed to making the necessary changes. We can and will take care of our people, while also preserving and protecting our national security interests in the Pacific and at home.”
Umm, hello? This is normal.
When are we going to stop treating each incident like it’s some terrible accident and reckon with the fact that polluting our water and soil is business as usual for our military? You think no one is watching, but here we are.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!