Oops, We Did It Again
Native Americans at risk from toxic military leftovers
More than a century ago, the U.S. slaughtered a bunch of indigenous folks and put the rest on reservations in the most arid, isolated, undesirable parts of the American West. A new study shows that many closed military sites in the Lower 48 states — including bombing ranges, weapons-testing sites, and waste dumps — are close by those reservations, possibly putting Native Americans at disproportionately high risk from the toxic materials and unexploded bombs left behind. According to a Defense Department report, the abandoned bases are home to “hazardous materials, unexploded ordnance, abandoned equipment, unsafe buildings, and debris.” The feds estimate that unexploded ordnance contaminates up to 50 million acres in the U.S. and, at current rates, would take centuries to clean up. Seems environmental racism isn’t confined to low-income urban areas.