Closed military bases frequently icky

Irony alert: Hot on the heels of news that the Pentagon is appealing to Congress for exemptions from air and hazardous-waste laws comes word that closed military bases are ridden with, uh, dirty air and hazardous waste. Thirty-four military bases shut down since 1988 are on the U.S. EPA Superfund list of toxic sites, and the upcoming round of base closings will likely add more to that list. An Associated Press investigation found that there are more than 100 military sites where uncompleted cleanups worry the EPA, though the Pentagon has spent some $8.3 billion on toxic cleanups and environmental compliance during the last four rounds of base closings and realignments. Most of the delays in handing over closed bases to non-military hands have to do with environmental problems ranging from contaminated groundwater to radioactive materials, leaded paint, and asbestos. No doubt the substantial environmental costs and the request for environmental exemptions are unrelated.