In addition to waging ?permanent war? with the civilians of Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States military is attacking the entire planet with its toxic waste. ?The U.S. Department of Defense is, in fact, the world's largest polluter,? reports Bob Feldman for Dollars and Sense, ?producing more hazardous waste per year than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined.? Around the world, active and abandoned military bases and nuclear facilities secrete toxins into the air, water and soil. The two biggest offenders: Washington?s Fairchild Airforce base, the largest producer of chemical waste?13 million pounds in 1997?and Tinker Airforce base in Oklahoma, which emitted over 600,000 pounds of toxins that same year.
From excessive use of petroleum products and heavy metals to the detonation of bombs and bullets, the business of war is killing our environment?even in times of peace. In June 2001 the Military Toxics Project and the Environmental Health Coalition co-published ?Defend Our Health: A People?s Report to Congress,? a document highlighting military environmental abuses in the United States and Puerto Rico. Contaminants named in this report included solvents, pesticides, petroleum, lead, mercury and uranium. As a result of these pollutants, residents of surrounding communities suffer from alarming rates of miscarriages, low birth rates, birth defects, kidney disease and cancer. States and cities are unable to regulate these bases which operate as ?federal reservations,? outside of local jurisdiction.
Activists around the globe have taken matters into their own
hands. In 1999 seventy members of citizen?s groups met for the
International Grassroots Summit on Military Bases Cleanup where
they adopted an ?Environmental Bill of Rights for Persons,
Indigenous Peoples, Communities and Nations Hosting Foreign and
Colonial Military Bases.? This document holds the military
accountable for environmental destruction on a disproportionate
number of ?economically disadvantaged communities, women, children,
people of color and indigenous people,? and demands military
accountability for the contamination and the cost of cleanup.