2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: pparks@igc.org
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 16:22:55 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] News about toxics in U.S. News World Report
What follows is an article about the toxic waste problem in the Philippines
just came out in this issue of U.S. News World Report. 

You can view it for yourself at:


What the military left behind

ANGELES CITY, PHILIPPINES When the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo buried the
region in volcanic ash and hastened the departure of United States forces
from Clark Air Base, some 20,000 homeless Filipino families were relocated
onto the sprawling installation. The new residents dug wells, planted
crops, and settled unaware that the ground water they drank and bathed in,
the soil their rice and sweet potatoes grew in, and the creeks and ponds
they fished in were contaminated by toxic substances dumped during a half
century of U.S. tenure.

Within a few years, health workers began tracking a rise in spontaneous
abortions, stillbirths, and birth defects; kidney, skin, and nervous system
disorders; cancers, and other conditions that can be caused or exacerbated by
exposure to chemical toxicants. Between May and July of 1995, for example,
five infants were born suffering from the same central-nervous-system
disorder. From that congenital birth defect cluster, only Abraham Taruc
survives today, a stunted, 4-year-old human rag doll unable to speak or
walk, barely able to move or swallow.

Pollution blamed. Philippine doctors and government officials supported by
independent studies by Western health and pollution experts believe that
Abraham and hundreds of others were poisoned by heavy metals like lead and
mercury; degreasing solvents, used oil, pesticides, acids, asbestos, and old
munitions. The rising incidence of serious health conditions and premature
deaths suggests causes beyond poverty and poor medical care.

When the Air Force departed Clark, it conducted a hasty removal of waste
containers but refused Philippine government requests for data on toxic
dumping. Today, the Pentagon acknowledges polluting major overseas bases but
insists that the United States isn't obligated to clean them up. "Our laws
do not permit us to spend funds for the purposes you have requested," wrote
U.S. Defense Deputy Under Secretary Sherri Goodman last June to a Philippine
senator seeking help. That hardly satisfies critics such as Myrla Baldonado
of the Manila-based People's Task Force For Bases Cleanup: "The U.S. may have a
legal loophole, but what about the moral obligation? People are sick,
dying, or dead."

This year, the DOD will spend $2 billion on cleaning up at installations in
the United States and its territories but only $18.6 million total at bases in
Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. The
Philippines gets nothing. Meanwhile, with no alternative housing, some
4,000 families remain at Clark, drinking the same mercury-laced water and
vegetables in the same poisoned soil. -M.S.

You can find archived listserve messages on the CPEO website at 


If this email has been forwarded to you and you'd like to subscribe, please send a message to: 


Check out the new and improved Topica site!

  Prev by Date: [CPEO-MEF] Stakeholder Information
Next by Date: [CPEO-MEF] deed restrictions for transferred land
  Prev by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] Stakeholder Information
Next by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] deed restrictions for transferred land

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index