Senators Seek Military Contamination Clean-Up

Back in May I wrote about a chemical weapons testing site in the heart of DC that was used during WWI to test the most dangerous toxic chemicals for possible retaliation against the Germans. (You can read the post HERE) The site was not properly cleaned-up after the military was done with its testing and in 1993 chemical supplies were unearthed in a suburban neighborhood built over the former testing site.

The federal government has spent millions of dollars and several years trying to remove the toxic chemicals from the neighborhoods in and around American University in DC. You'd think they would have learned their lesson from this costly and difficult situation, apparently they have not.

The Washington Post is reporting that the Environmental Protection Agency says military bases in five states are contaminated with toxic materials and should be cleaned up. Unfortunately, the Pentagon has refused to take any action.

In response to the Pentagon's failure to act, Democratic Senators from the affected states have written a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urging an immediate response. In addition, the letter chastises the Pentagon for their inaction on 12 other contaminated sites currently on the Superfund list as some of the most polluted areas in the country.

The Senators who sent the letter were Senators Nelson (FL), Menendez (NJ), Lautenberg (NJ), Mikulski (MD) and Cardin (MD). In addition, Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) has said her Environment and Public Works Committee will soon hold hearings on the matter. Senators Menendez, Lautenberg and Nelson separately wrote the Government Accountability Office asking for an investigation. That letter addressed the danger to public health that the contamination poses because of problems like drinking water pollution.

During the Bush administration, the Pentagon has increasingly challenged the authority of the EPA. According to the law, in disputes between the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA has the final say. Unfortunately, to enforce that authority, the EPA would have to sue the military which has been prohibited by the White House. So a legal black hole has been created.

To read the full Washington Post story on the contaminated sites and the Senators' letter, click HERE.


  1. Ugh. First arsenic at Fort Reno—well, almost—and now this.

  2. Good information. I have linked to this at The DC Feed.