The Toxic Waste Site In Your Backyard
Many Americans don't know what
they are living on or next to
December 04, 2017
By Rex D. Cain
MAP: Northwest corner of 2013 map of Superfund cleanup sites.. Red = priority cleanup. Yellow = proposed. Green = deleted (usually meaning having been cleaned up. Full US map is below. Map by Wikipedia user Skew-t. Creative Commons LIc. 3.0.
MAP: Full map of year 2013 of Superfund cleanup sites. Red = priority cleanup. Yellow = proposed. Green = deleted (usually meaning having been cleaned up. Map by Wikipedia user Skew-t. Creative Commons LIc. 3.0. CLICK TO ENLARGE
(NATIONAL) -- Ask the average American if he or she is living on top of or next to a toxic waste dump site, or a toxic site that might have few unexploded bombs on them and you'll likely get the thousand-mile stare.
There are millions of acres of land in this country that have buried beneath the soil, and sometimes on top of it, very nasty stuff that you don't want to be anywhere near if you have a lick of common sense.
As the headline of one July 2017 news story put it, "The Pentagon’s handling of munitions and their waste has poisoned millions of acres, and left Americans to guess at the threat to their health."
And that's just the Pentagon's action. That has nothing to do with over 200 years of non-military heavy industry pollution -- everything from railroads to logging to nuclear plants.
For a military site that has already cost taxpayers a fortune, look at the history of the Hanford nuclear facility in our state.
For that one site alone, taxpayers (you) have spent about $19 billion, "And still the plant has failed to treat a single drop of the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste that’s been sitting underground for decades," according to a May 2015 report in The Fiscal Times.
That's just one site. And as you'll see in this report, there are hundreds if not thousands of these cleanup jobs you're paying for and your grandkids will pay for in years to come. All because human beings, history shows, simply don't want to clean up the messes they make.
Clean up is a cost. Making the mess is where the money is.
A 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office, which looked at the government's progress on Hanford, said that the work that was supposed to be done by 2011 now won't be done until at least 2019 and, "The DOE still hasn’t agreed to any new deadlines," says the Fiscal Times.
According to a report by ProPublica at the end of November, the military spends more than a billion dollars a year of your money just to clean up the sites its operations "have contaminated with toxic waste and explosives."
That report says those sites exist in every state in the country. "Some are located near schools, residential neighborhoods, rivers and lakes. A full map of these sites has never been made public – until now."
And here's where you get to find out if you're living on top of or next to one of these toxic sites. ProPublica put together an interactive map where you can look up an address or look up by a state or territory to find those sites.
In our state of Washington there is a large cluster of them in the Puget Sound region. When a reporter clicked on one of the dots on that map, up popped up this note: "Seattle Naval Supply Depot. Cost: $16.9 million. Expected cleanup completion 2025."
You can look up your own address or type in your city or town right here to see what toxic site you might be living near.
Just how serious is all this business? That ProPublica story from July of this year noted there's one elementary school in Virginia that's been ranked by researchers, "As facing some of the most dangerous air-quality hazards in the country. The rate of thyroid diseases in three of the surrounding counties is among the highest in the state, provoking town residents to worry that emissions from the Radford plant could be to blame. Government authorities have never studied whether Radford’s air pollution could be making people sick, but some of their hypothetical models estimate that the local population faces health risks exponentially greater than people in the rest of the region."
And so it goes.
(By the way, use our donate page today Spunky to give it up for the mighty Chronicle, without which you'd be wandering around dazed and confused in a waste land of lies, government PR handouts and "alternative facts.")