The military is the nation's largest polluter, causing a "thousand points of blight" befouling every state - including Utah, a watchdog group says.
The National Toxic Campaign Fund released a study this week saying the military has identified at least 226 potential hazardous waste sites at its facilities in Utah, but has finished cleaning up only one.It added that while the military has identified similar potential hazardous waste sites in every state, it is only spending 0.4 percent of its pre-war annual budget on cleanup.
"Military bases have created thousands of points of blight by producing, testing and dumping explosives and chemical weapons," said National Toxic Campaign Fund President John O'Connor.
He added, "Pentagon funding for environmental programs is totally inadequate. Less than one half of 1 percent of the Department of Defense's pre-war budget went to cleaning up toxic wastes."
The military has estimated that cleanup costs could be as high as $200 billion for 14,401 potential hazardous waste sites it suspects at 1,579 Army, Navy and AirForce facilities.
The watchdog group said such numbers easily make the military the nation's worst hazardous waste polluter.
The group quoted military reports to Congress that listed the number of potential military waste sites in Utah. (See accompanying box)
The watchdog group did not mention 124 known hazardous waste sites at Dugway Proving Ground that the Deseret News revealed earlier through Freedom of Information Act requests.
While the watchdog group did not detail the types of pollution in Utah, a series in the Deseret News last year identified some, including:
- Up to a third of Dugway Proving Ground plus a 66 square-mile area of public land south of it may be contaminated with undetonated munitions, including chemical arms.
- Explosive compounds - which can cause disease potentially fatal to infants - from Tooele Army Depot may have contaminated regional groundwater in Tooele County. Also up to a tenth of the Depot's South Area in Rush Valley may be contaminated with unexploded arms.
- At Hill Air Force Base and the Ogden Defense Depot, fuels, solvents and toxic metals have found their way into groundwater and have migrated off base.
- At the Naval Industrial Reserve Ordinance Plant in Magna, solvents, explosive compounds and other toxic materials are buried near suburban areas - but the Navy says they pose no threat as long as they remain buried. It also said lack of moisture in the area has prevented contaminating groundwater.
The military is in various stages of identifying potential hazardous waste sites and deciding whether pollution is serious enough to warrant a cleanup. It reports its progress annually to Congress.
So far in Utah, only one site has been cleaned up totally - some buried irritant grenades and mustard agent buried at the Ogden Defense Depot were carried away in June 1988.
The watchdog group also noted that Hill Air Force Base, Ogden Defense Depot and Tooele Army Depot are on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund National Priorities List.
The watchdog group called for full funding of cleanups, compensation for those whose health and property have been damaged by military construction and for the military to begin reporting its toxic releases to the environment as private companies now must.
- 44 at the Ogden Defense Depot
- 43 at the Tooele Army Depot
- 31 at Hill Air Force Base
- 23 at Fort Douglas
- 11 at the Ogden Depot Army Reserve Center
- 10 at Air Force Plant No. 78 in Corinne
- Nine at the Ogden Army Reserve Center
- Eight each at the Salt Lake City Airport Air National Guard center and at Army Reserve centers in Logan, Provo and Salt Lake City
- Six each at the Naval Industrial Reserve Ordinance Plant in Magna and the Ogden Army Reserve Maintenance Shop No. 31
- Five at the Army's Wig Mountain Area
- Four at the Pleasant Grove Army Reserve Center
- One each at the Army's Blanding Launch Area and its Green River Test Site
Source: The National Toxic Campaign Fund 1G