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The US Won't Admit Just How Badly It Poisoned Military Base Water

Soldiers with the Massachusetts Army National Guard, dispose of clean water used to clean notionally contaminated equipment on Joint Base Cape Code. The June, 2018 training was part of a Combined Arms Exercise which tests the mission readiness of combat support. (Massachusetts Army National Guard/Cody Kilduff)
Soldiers with the Massachusetts Army National Guard, dispose of clean water used to clean notionally contaminated equipment on Joint Base Cape Code. The June, 2018 training was part of a Combined Arms Exercise which tests the mission readiness of combat support. (Massachusetts Army National Guard/Cody Kilduff)

This article by Jared Keller originally appeared on Task & Purpose, a digital news and culture publication dedicated to military and veterans issues.

The White House and Environmental Protection Agency have spent a month pushing to prevent the release of a sprawling health study detailing the scope of the contaminated water supplies that resulted in cancer and birth defects at nearly 126 military bases across the country -- and lawmakers are pissed.

  • A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Tuesday demanded the Trump administration release the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) study on the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in firefighting chemicals used by base emergency personnel to put out aircraft fires.
  • A March DoD report to the House Armed Service Committee revealedthat at least 126 U.S. military installations -- 50 Air Force, 49 Navy or Marine Corps, 25 Army, and two Defense Logistics Agency facilities -- tested at "higher than acceptable levels" of PFAS concentration, Military Times reported in April. An eye-popping 61% of nearby groundwater wells tested by the DoD yielded the same results.

Related: Military Bases Linked to Cancer and Health Problems

  • PFAS contamination of water sources can yield, among other horrifying consequences, "developmental delays in fetuses & children; decreased fertility; increased cholesterol; changes to the immune system; increased uric acid levels; changes in liver enzymes; and prostate, kidney, and testicular cancer," per the HASC report. Good thing the DoD's been using those chemicals since the 1970s!
  • "Given the wide use of PFAS and presence of these chemicals in communities across the U.S., it is critical that this report be released without delay and that EPA act immediately to update its guidelines to ensure Americans are informed of and protected from the danger of exposure to these toxins," the lawmakers wrote in the June 12 letter. "We are especially concerned since PFAS have been discovered in community water systems as well as on multiple Department of Defense installations."

This is all well and good, but it's not like a strongly-worded letter is going all of a sudden induce the DoD to get its contaminated s--- together.

The Intercept reported in February that while the Pentagon plans on shelling out a hefty $2 billion to address the widespread water contamination, that plan involves replacing "older foam with a newer formulation that contains only slightly tweaked versions of the same problematic compounds" that "pose many of the same dangers."

Cheers!

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