2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 20 Jan 2003 18:25:51 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Sun Part 2: Aberdeen Proving Ground
A Military Base's Last Line of Toxic Defense: Bluegills

Aberdeen: The fish, which test water quality, are among the many tools -
high- and low-tech - used to ensure that the post's hazards are contained.

By Ariel Sabar
Baltimore Sun

January 20, 2003

Last of two parts

EDGEWOOD - In a small laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, eight
bluegills put their tails on the line every day in the name of clean
water. The fish swim in tanks of treated water piped from beneath the
Army base's most toxic dump, a melange of decaying chemical warfare
agents such as napalm, cyanide and sarin.

If electrodes pasted to the tanks detect an unusual wriggle or cough, a
computer alerts engineers that toxins may be getting past a
multimillion-dollar water treatment system. Enough sick fish, and the
engineers investigate. Enough dead fish, and they shut off the discharge
into the Gunpowder River.

This is how quality control works at the filthiest dump on one of the
nation's most polluted military bases.

The $49.6 billion cleanup of polluted defense sites in the United States
has plenty of high-tech gear at its disposal, from cesium-vapor
magnetometers to infrared air monitors and ground-penetrating radar. But
the decision to enlist pond fish in the war on toxic waste reflects the
limits of even the most advanced technology in cleanups as complex as Aberdeen's.


for the entire story, see

(Remember: With a URL this long you may need to paste it into your browser.)

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

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