2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 15 Apr 2002 23:07:32 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Suit Filed to Stop Military Contamination of Eagle River Flat
CHICKALOON TRIBE                        

For Immediate Release                   
Contact: Pamela Miller, (907) 222-7714,
April 15, 2002 
Alaska Community Action on Toxics

Public Interest Groups File Suit to Stop Military Contamination 
of Eagle River Flats at Fort Richardson, AK

(Anchorage) Today, groups announce their citizens? lawsuit under the 
Clean Water Act to compel the United States Department of the Army and 
Department of Defense to address on-going pollution and safety hazards 
associated with past and present bombing of Eagle River Flats. The Army 
uses Eagle River Flats, an extensive wetlands area on Cook Inlet near 
Anchorage, for military bombing and training exercises. More than 10,000 
unexploded bombs and other munitions contaminate the Eagle River Flats, 
yet the Army refuses to remediate the dangers posed by the presence of 
unexploded ordnance on Eagle River Flats. 

Attorneys for the groups filed the lawsuit in the United States District 
Court in Anchorage on Friday, shortly after the Department of Defense 
terminated negotiations following ten months of discussion with the 
groups aimed at reaching settlement of the plaintiffs? claims.

?The military has polluted our traditional lands and waters with 
impunity,? said Janet Daniels of the Chickaloon Tribe and board member 
of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. ?We are seeking to correct this 
serious environmental injustice and hold the military accountable for 
their dangerous actions.?

Due to a high level of environmental pollution, the Environmental 
Protection Agency placed Fort Richardson on the National Priorities 
(Superfund) List of polluted sites in 1994. The groups allege violations 
by the Army of the federal Clean Water Act; Comprehensive Environmental 
Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA); the Federal Facility 
Agreement for Fort Richardson; and the Solid Waste Disposal Act. 

?We will not allow the United States military to operate above the law. 
In a democracy, it shouldn?t be that way,? said Pamela Miller, Director 
of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. The Army continues to discharge 
hazardous munitions into the waters of the Eagle River delta without a 
required federal Clean Water Act permit.

The Army?s past and present discharge of munitions releases harmful 
chemicals such as RDX, 2,4-DNT, heavy metals, and other high explosive 
and propellant compounds. The presence of such toxic chemicals and the 
safety hazards of unexploded ordnance present a substantial danger to 
wildlife and people. Army documents reveal that hunters and other 
persons enter the Eagle River Flats impact area because no physical 
barriers prevent access. After thousands of waterfowl deaths, the Army 
began to remediate white phosphorus contamination from their use of 
incendiary weapons on Eagle River Flats, but they have failed to address 
the larger problem of continuing pollution from unexploded bombs and 
other munitions.

Unexploded ordnance may also exist in, on, and/or under lands and waters 
outside the current boundaries of Fort Richardson, including the waters 
of Knik Arm. For example, the Army historically used approximately 2 
million acres in the vicinity of Fort Richardson (the Fort currently 
consists of about 60,000 acres) for military training, including 
munitions training. Much of those 2 million acres are likely to contain 
unexploded ordnance. The Army has never made a systematic effort to 
identify areas likely to contain unexploded ordnance (UXO) or to 
remediate the dangers posed by the presence of UXO.

The Department of Defense recently circulated proposed regulatory 
changes in an attempt to exempt their activities from scrutiny under 
existing environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, Resource 
Conservation and Recovery Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, 
and Marine Mammal Protection Act. The proposed legislation (the 
?Sustainable Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Act?) would 
roll back the military?s requirements to comply with federal 
environmental laws, citing national security needs. The Military Toxics 
Project and its network of organizations around the country protest the 
exemptions proposed by the Department of Defense (DoD). 

?The DoD?s proposed exemptions would allow them to contaminate the water 
we drink and the air we breathe. The military has the responsibility to 
protect the health of the people they serve. The people that live around 
military sites deserve equal protection under the law,? stated Tara 
Thornton national director of the Military Toxics Project.

A report released to Congress by Military Toxics Project in June 2001 
entitled Defend Our Health: The U.S. Military?s Environmental Assault on 
Communities details the impacts of polluting military activities such as 
hazardous waste dumping, testing and use of munitions, manufacture and 
use of depleted uranium, nuclear propulsion, toxic releases to air and 
water, and other military operations. The report shows how military 
exemptions from laws and lax enforcement by regulatory agencies have 
produced more than 27,000 toxic hot spots on 8,500 military properties. 

Groups engaged in the lawsuit include: Alaska Community Action on 
Toxics, Chickaloon Tribe, Cook Inlet Keeper, Military Toxics Project, 
and individuals of the Tribe, Janet Daniels and Richard Martin. 
Attorneys Scott J. Allen of Cox and Moyer Attorneys at Law, based in San 
Francisco, and Valerie Brown of Trustees for Alaska represent the 
groups. Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) is a statewide 
non-profit organization dedicated to achieving environmental health and 
justice. ACAT?s mission: we believe that everyone has a right to drink 
clean water, breathe clean air, and eat safe foods free of toxic 
contamination. Chickaloon Tribe Athabascan Nation at Chickaloon Village 
is located in the Upper Cook Inlet with other lands in lower Cook Inlet 
and Fossil Point area. They are committed to protecting their lands, 
waters, and health. The Cook Inlet Keeper is a non-profit group 
dedicated to protecting Cook Inlet and the life it sustains. Cook Inlet 
Keeper is based in Homer, Alaska. The Military Toxics Project (MTP) is a 
national network of groups fighting military contamination in their 
communities. MTP is based in Lewiston, Maine.

Other contacts:
1) Janet Daniels, Chickaloon Tribe and board member of ACAT (907) 
2) Attorneys Scott Allen, Cox and Moyer, (415) 543-9464; and Valerie 
Brown, Trustees for Alaska, (907) 276-4244
3) Bob Shavelson, Executive Director, Cook Inlet Keeper, (907) 235-4068
4) Tara Thornton, Executive Director, Military Toxics Project, (207) 


Pamela K. Miller

Alaska Community Action on Toxics
505 West Northern Lights Boulevard, Suite 210
Anchorage, Alaska 99503
web site: http://www.akaction.net

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