'Downwinder' communities

Living by a military training site is hazardous to your health, as this resident of Northern Minnesota makes indisputably clear.
Posted: April 3, 2014
"Letter to the Editor" from The Brainerd Dispatch, Little Falls, Minnesota
‘Downwinder’ communities

Camp Ripley is a modern military training site, five miles from Little Falls, and is equipped with numerous ranges and firing points capable of firing small caliber side arms to the Multiple Launch Rocket System. Camp Ripley’s size allows for firing of artillery into two impact areas from almost anywhere on the post. At many U.S. military target ranges, petroleum products and heavy metals used in bombs and bullets contaminate the soil and groundwater. Contaminants are spewed onto “downwinder” communities, and neighbors are subject to noise pollution from target-range bombardment.

Morrison County ranks 80th out of 85th in the Minnesota County Health Rankings, which measures health factors and outcomes.

Military toxins not only kill the enemy, they kill our military personnel and people living near military bases and pollute our water, land and air. The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world, producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined. Some of these hazardous wastes include pesticides, solvents, petroleum, perchlorate, lead, mercury, white phosphorus, depleted uranium, and defoliants. The health effects for surrounding communities are devastating: miscarriages, low birth weights, kidney disease and cancers.

Perchlorate, an ingredient of solid rocket fuel and a byproduct of rocket and missile testing and explosives, is now omnipresent in the environment, and is also one of the contaminants at nearly all military installations.

More than 12,000 military sites on which live explosive training takes place release perchlorate into groundwater, where it is exceedingly mobile and persists for decades.

According to the President’s Cancer Panel 2008-2009 annual report titled Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk, the military is a major source of occupational and environmental exposures that can increase cancer risk.

Robin Hensel

Little Falls, MN

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published this page in Blog 2014-04-03 13:56:20 -0700