Sunday, April 22, 2007

Military Waste

Years of target shooting and industrial work that might have seemed so innocent then surely appears less so now as the bill for the clean-up comes due with the debris of our civilization and its military capability all around us.

Investigative Report: Wastes of War
California has hundreds of current and former military sites that pose environmental risks.
By Russell Carollo - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, April 22, 2007

Time bombs lurk beneath California, from the Mexican border to the Oregon state line, under hills, valleys and coastlines -- poised to contaminate wells, pollute waterways, jeopardize property values and endanger human lives.

Hundreds of locations already have been polluted, and how much more of the state is at risk, no one really knows.

What is known is that more than 1,000 confirmed and suspected military sites, the largest number in the country, are spread across California, covering 7.5 percent of the state -- an area more than twice the size of Connecticut. Many were abandoned decades ago but may still be contaminated with toxic chemicals, bombs and other munitions or even radioactive waste, a six-month examination by The Sacramento Bee found.

Additional parts of the state are at risk from pollutants migrating through groundwater, soil and open waterways, and the threat of toxic waste dumped decades ago becomes more dangerous as developers spread thousands of homes and business over and around former bases.

With so many sites, encounters with military debris and even munitions are becoming commonplace.

"I'm not looking for the stuff," said Yolo County farmer Duane Chamberlain, whose workers have found military debris about a half dozen times during the past 15 years while plowing fields.