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The US Military: Contamination at Home and Abroad

by Gavin P. Smith

Recently, one of our readers proposed the following:

Most people in the military have 3 bases during the 1st two years in the military: 1) BCT, 2) AIT could be on an Army, Air Force, Navy or USMC base driven by MOS, and 3) Duty Station. More the 2 years may take them overseas or on a sea trip. Also, they had TDY/TAD time to other military base(s). TDY/TAD could be a few days to few months. Civilians go TDY/TAD also. Some civilians work in the US, then change jobs to overseas duty stations, then take other jobs back in the US at other military bases. Military Exposure comes in all types of toxic contamination and years. How many other military bases did this? How many military members, civilians, spouses and children have health problem(s) ?

Wouldn’t it be conceivable that most of our service members, civilian workers, and their families/children face exposures at multiple bases during their lives?

Our response is simple:


As we continue to expand our coverage of all of the domestic bases on the EPA’s Superfund Site list, we’ve also started to notice and identify several pollution and contamination issues with bases abroad.  We recently profiled Kadena Air Force Base as just one example, as well as broader stories on Okinawa and an editorial on US military contamination at home and overseas.

As another story sums up:

“The United States operates a vast array of foreign bases manifesting many of the same environmental problems found at domestic bases, including toxics in drinking water, explosives on firing ranges, and noise pollution. Key Points: 1) The U.S. lacks a comprehensive program for responding to environmental contamination at foreign military bases; 2) Operating without clear legal obligations, the Pentagon has chosen to implement the most minimal environmental program possible; 3) Shrouded in secrecy, DOD has avoided oversight and criticism of its existing programs, which are administered by well-intentioned staff in a haphazard, inconsistent, and underfunded manner.”

Thanks to our readers, we’ve compiled a few more stories and links on overseas bases that we’ll include here in the short term. Look for us to add a full category of content on these soon.

For now, have a look at these contributed documents:



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