ACTION ALERT: Militarism in the Air We Breathe

January 24th, 2015 - by admin

David Swanson / War Is a Crime & Letter to the EPA – 2015-01-24 00:26:12

Militarism in the Air We Breathe
David Swanson / War Is a Crime

If there is a group of Americans to whom Iraqis struggling with the health effects of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and all the various poisons of war can relate, it might be the mostly black and largely poor residents of Gibsland, in northern Louisiana.

Here’s how an op-ed in the New York Times from one resident describes their situation:
“For years, one of the largest employers in that area was the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant, about four miles from Minden.

The Environmental Protection Agency eventually listed the plant as a Superfund site because for more than 40 years ‘untreated explosives-laden wastewater from industrial operations was collected in concrete sumps at each of the various load line areas,’ and emptied into ’16 one-acre pink water lagoons.'”

And now (from
“After months of bureaucratic disputes between the Army and state and federal agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced an emergency plan to burn 15 million pounds of M6 — up to 80,000 pounds a day over the course of a year — on open ‘burn trays’ at Camp Minden, a disposal process that environmental advocates say is outdated and has been outlawed in other countries. The operation would be one of the largest open munitions burn in US history.”

Every once in a while — around Vieques or Jeju Island or Pagan Island — environmental organizations find themselves confronting one little corner of the environment’s greatest destroyer. While the big environmental groups seem unlikely to confront the institution of war itself until it’s too late, we should take these opportunities to encourage them. Because they are taking on the military over this burn.

There are plenty of former members of the US military who can tell them about the health impacts of burns abroad, which veterans refer to as “the new Agent Orange.” The EPA can fill activists in on who creates the most environmental disasters within the United States. Hint: It starts with mil and rhymes with solitary.

A major motivation behind some wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas. That fact, often disguised, should be faced by those of us concerned over the earth’s future.

The wars are not to protect us but to endanger us, by the generation of animosity and by the destruction of our planet. The production of the world’s largest, most wasteful military ever is not a safety measure in case a good war comes along, but exactly what Eisenhower warned it would be, a generator of wars.

The $1 trillion the United States dumps into the war machine each year is needed for urgent environmental protection. And the war preparations spending does not enrich us; it impoverishes us while concentrating wealth away from places like Gibsland. That’s a lot of downsides for an institution whose main function is to kill lots of innocent people while stripping away our civil liberties.

But, back to the environmental downside. And oil. Oil can be leaked or burned off, as in the Gulf War, but primarily it is put to use in all kinds of machines polluting the earth’s atmosphere, placing us all at risk. Some associate the consumption of oil with the supposed glory and heroism of war, so that renewable energies that do not risk global catastrophe are viewed as cowardly and unpatriotic ways to fuel our machines.

The interplay of war with oil goes beyond that, however. The wars themselves, whether or not fought for oil, consume huge quantities of it. One of the world’s top consumer of oil, in fact, is the US military.

The US military burns through about 340,000 barrels of oil each day. If the Pentagon were a country, it would rank 38th out of 196 in oil consumption. There’s just no other institution that comes remotely close to the military in this or other types of environmental destruction. (But try to discover that fact at an anti-pipeline march.)

The environment as we know it will not survive nuclear war. It also may not survive “conventional” war, understood to mean the sorts of wars now waged. Intense damage has already been done by wars and by the research, testing, and production done in preparation for wars.

Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. War “rivals infectious disease as a global cause of morbidity and mortality,” according to Jennifer Leaning of Harvard Medical School.

Perhaps the most deadly weapons left behind by wars are land mines and cluster bombs. Tens of millions of them are estimated to be lying around on the earth, oblivious to any announcements that peace has been declared. Most of their victims are civilians, a large percentage of them children.

It is wonderful to have organizations now and again challenging particular aspects of the destruction war causes. Below is a letter that every peace and environmental and peace-environmental organization in the world should sign onto:

Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance US Environmental Protection Agency
William Jefferson Clinton Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W.
Mail Code: 2201A
Washington, DC 20460

RE: Proposed Open Burning of M6 Propellants
At Camp Minden, Louisiana

Dear Assistant Administrator Giles,

We, the undersigned organizations, join Louisiana residents, workers and families in their call for a safer alternative to open burning of hazardous wastes at Camp Minden.

We oppose the plan by the US Environmental Protection Agency to OPEN BURN 15 million pounds of abandoned M6 propellants at Camp Minden, Louisiana. By definition, open burning has no emissions controls and will result in the uncontrolled release of toxic emissions and respirable particulates to the environment. M6 contains approximately 10 percent dinitrotoluene (DNT), which is classified as a probable human carcinogen. 1

Concerns for the potential human health risk created by open burning/open detonation as well as for environmental impacts on the air, soil, and water have required the military to identify and develop alternatives to open burning/open detonation treatment. 2 Moreover, as the EPA’s plan provides for the safe handling and transport to an open burning area, these wastes could be similarly moved to an alternative treatment facility or system.

While we support the EPA’s initiative to require the US Army to clean up and dispose of these improperly stored explosive wastes, we do not support open burning as a remedy given the inherent and avoidable risks to human health and the environment.

1 US Environmental Protection Agency, Technical Fact Sheet, Dinitrotoluene (DNT), January 2014.
2 US Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratories USACERL Technical Report 98/104, Alternatives to Open Burning/Open Detonation of Energetic Materials, A Summary of Current Technologies, August 1998.

Endorsers include:
Laura Olah, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, Wisconsin

Gar Smith, Environmentalists Against War, California

Dolores Blalock, ArkLaTex Clean Air Network, LLC, Louisiana

Marylee M. Orr, Executive Director, Louisiana Environmental Action Network/Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, Louisiana

Devawn Palmer-Oberlender, Environmental Patriots of the New River Valley, Virginia

Pamela Miller, Executive Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Alaska

Craig Williams, Chemical Weapons Working Group, Kentucky

Erin Brockovich & Bob Bowcock, California

United Tribe of Shawnee Indians, Principal Chief, Jim Oyler, Kansas
Tim Lopez, Director, Voluntary Cleanup Advisory Board, Colorado

Greg Wingard, Executive Director, Waste Action Project, Washington

Mable Mallard, Philadelphia Community Right To Know Committee, Pennsylvania

Doris Bradshaw, Defense Depot Memphis Tennessee – Concerned Citizens Committee

Isis Bradshaw, Youth Terminating Pollution, Tennessee

Kaye Kiker, Community Organizer, Citizens Task Force, Alabama

Wilbur Slockish, Columbia River Education and Economic Development, Oregon

Al Gedicks, Executive Secretary, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, Wisconsin

Doris Bradshaw, Military Toxics Project, Tennessee

Peter Galvin, Center for Biological Diversity, California

LeVonne Stone, Fort Ord Environmental Justice Network, California

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment), California

Josh Fast, Educator,, Louisiana

Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association, Minnesota

Paul Orr, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, Louisiana

Marcia Halligan, Kickapoo Peace Circle, Wisconsin

Kathy Sanchez, EJ RJ, Tewa women United org., New Mexico

J. Gilbert Sanchez, CEO, Tribal Environmental Watch Alliance, New Mexico

David Keith, Valley Citizens for a Safe Environment, Massachusetts

Forest Jahnke, Crawford Stewardship Project, Wisconsin

Maria Powell, President, Midwest Environmental Justice Organization, Wisconsin

Evelyn Yates, Pine Bluff for Safe Disposal, Arkansas

Cheryl Slavant, Ouachita Riverkeeper, Louisiana

Jean E. Mannhaupt, President, Park Ridge @ Country Manors Home Owners Assoc., New York

Stephen Brittle, President, Don’t Waste Arizona

Alison Jones Chaim, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin

Jill Johnston, Southwest Workers Union, Texas

Robert Alvarado, Committee for Environmental Justice Action, Texas

Phyllis Hasbrouck, Chair, West Waubesa Preservation Coalition, Wisconsin

John LaForge, Nukewatch, Wisconsin

Guy Wolf, Co-Director, DownRiver Alliance, Wisconsin

Don Timmerman & Roberta Thurstin, Casa Maria Catholic Worker, Wisconsin

LT General Russel Honore (Ret), GreenARMY, Louisiana

John LaForge, The Progressive Foundation, Wisconsin

Paul F. Walker, Ph.D., Director, Environmental Security and Sustainability, Green Cross International, Washington, DC

Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director, Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana

Lenny Siegel, Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight, California

John E. Peck, Executive Director, Family Farm Defenders, Wisconsin

Lois Marie Gibbs, Executive Director, Center for Health, Environment and Justice, Virginia

Willie Fontenot, Conservation Chair, Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club, Louisiana

Kimberlee Wright, Executive Director, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Inc., Wisconsin

Elizabeth O’Nan, Director, Protect All Children’s Environment, North Carolina

Frances Kelley, Louisiana Progress Action, Louisiana

Patrick Seymour, ISIS institute MilWaste Project, Massachusetts

Christina Walsh, Executive Director,, California

Glen Hooks, Chapter Director, Arkansas Sierra Club, Arkansas

Laura Ward, President, Wanda Washington, Vice President, FOCUS, Inc (Family Oriented Community United Strong, Inc.), Florida

Ed Dlugosz, President, NJ Friends of Clearwater, New Jersey

Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, LA Bucket Brigade, Louisiana

Monica Wilson, GAIA: Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, California

Dean A. Wilson, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Louisiana

Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Texas

Lara Norkus-Crampton, Coordinator, Minneapolis Neighbors for Clean Air, Minnesota

Haywood Martin, Chair, Sierra Club Delta Chapter, Louisiana

Mitzi Shpak, Executive Director, Action Now, California

Jane Williams, Executive Director, California Communities Against Toxics, California

Robina Suwol, Executive Director, California Safe Schools, California

Renee Nelson, President, Clean Water and Air Matter (CWAM), California

Lisa Riggiola, Citizens For A Clean Pompton Lakes, New Jersey

Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, Executive Director, GreenLaw

James Little, member, Western Broome Environmental Stakeholder Coalition, New York

Sparky Rodrigues, Malama Makua, Hawaii

Barry Kissin, Fort Detrick Restoration Advisory Board, Maryland

Submitted by:
Laura Olah, Executive Director
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) E12629 Weigand’s Bay South
Merrimac, WI 53561