2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: christinebettencourt@earthlink.net
Date: 23 Oct 2002 18:39:58 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Re: [CPEO-MEF] Toxic Ranges
What about all the children who die from poisonous vapors released when
square miles of OEW and UXO are burned?  Military bases should not behave as
closets that must be disorganized to become organized.  Making a mess with
toxics can be more harmful and create more casualties than leaving the mess

Thanks for everything.


----- Original Message -----
From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
To: Military Environmental Forum <cpeo-military@igc.topica.com>
Sent: Thursday, October 17, 2002 9:21 AM
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Toxic Ranges

> CPEO has prepared a background paper on the risks of toxic substances on
> military munitions ranges. The first five paragraphs are pasted below.
> To download the entire report, see
> http://www.cpeo.org/pubs/Toxic%20Ranges%2010-02A.doc.
> Center for Public Environmental Oversight
> October, 2002
> A National Problem
> The U.S. military operates munitions test and training ranges covering
> tens of millions of acres of land and waters throughout the United
> States and beyond. It has terminated the use of other range areas
> covering millions of acres more. Munitions fired, dropped, and disposed
> of on those ranges pose a dual threat: First, and most immediate,
> literally millions of bombs, shells, rockets, grenades, and other items
> lying on the surface, resting underwater, or buried beneath soil and
> sediment may explode if disturbed. Second, and perhaps equally
> significant in the long run, the chemical constituents and explosive
> byproducts of those munitions pose a toxic threat to public health and
> natural ecosystems as they move through the environment.
> Particularly at operational ranges, the Department of Defense has been
> slow to recognize and address the hazards posed by military munitions.
> Cleaning all such ranges to make them safe for non-military uses would
> be prohibitively expensive, and the application of environmental
> standards designed to support other uses would interfere with the armed
> services' routine training and testing operations. Consequently, the
> Defense Department has argued for years that munitions on ranges should
> not be regulated as hazardous substances or hazardous wastes.
> The most acute threat on both operational and former conventional ranges
> - this is not necessarily true for ranges where chemical munitions were
> used or buried - is explosive safety. For example, in May 2000, a
> Mississippi boy died when an anti-tank shell removed by other teen-agers
> from nearby Camp Shelby exploded. In 1983, two boys died when they
> discovered an old shell at the end of a cul-de-sac in their San Diego
> neighborhood, built on a World War II training range. A great deal of
> work is being done to remove munitions from such areas, and to keep
> people from approaching explosive devices, but the Defense Department
> and other government agencies have not yet agreed upon a process for
> identifying and removing such hazards. At least, today all parties
> recognize that unexploded ordnance (UXO) - munitions that fail to
> explode as designed - present a serious, widespread challenge.
> The military is moving more slowly to acknowledge the toxic threat. By
> the early 1990s, several ammunition plants and munitions handling
> facilities had been placed on U.S. EPA's National Priorities List (NPL),
> commonly known as the "Superfund" list, because explosive chemicals such
> as TNT (trinitrotoluene) and RDX (Royal Demolition Explosive) were
> present in the soil and groundwater. Still, the Defense Department
> conducted little research into the fate, transport, and toxicity of
> explosive substances and their byproducts. It largely ignored the
> potential for toxic contamination on ranges.
> This changed in 1997, when U.S. EPA ordered the National Guard to halt
> training activities at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, after toxic
> explosive chemicals were found in the sole aquifer supplying drinking
> water to hundreds of thousands of people. Though the Pentagon resisted
> EPA's strong stance, it began new research programs and increased the
> sampling of soil and groundwater on other ranges around the United
> States. Generally, where ranges have been sampled for explosive
> chemicals and propellants, such residues have been found, although in
> most cases officials do not deem the contamination an immediate threat
> to public health.
> ...
> --
> Lenny Siegel
> Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
> c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
> Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
> Fax: 650/961-8918
> <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
> http://www.cpeo.org
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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