Operation War On Earth

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.
?Erin Ferdinand

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