”A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” – Martin Luther King
U.S.M.C. SUPERFUND SITE, CAMP LEJEUNE
By EJ Wickes
One of the many Superfund sites across America (above).
With all the dialogue exchanged over the environment and defense spending, I haven’t heard one environmentalist or candidate mention Camp Lejeune or Superfund. This issue has been batted around Congress for years and nobody has the guts to touch it. But what you do hear all the time, is how we need to take care of our Veterans. Well, the psychiatric pharmaceutical industry has that covered with the suicide rate; the public’s gift to subsidized healthcare and our veterans. We’re told that we need more defense spending than ever for the War on Terror; the public’s gift to the Military Industrial Complex.
H.R. 1742: THE JANEY ENSMINGER ACT
“It presumes a service connection, for veterans’ benefits purposes, for any illness associated with contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, during a period in which the water there was contaminated by volatile organic compounds, including known and probable human carcinogens, notwithstanding evidence of such illness during such period.”
HR 1742 makes family members who resided at such location during such period, or were in utero during such period while the mother resided at such location, eligible for hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for any condition or disability associated with exposure to such contaminants. ”
The bill was introduced in 2011; five years ago. From 1957 – 1987 untold numbers of Marines and other service men and women from other branches; and their families were exposed to high levels of carcinogens from excessive and negligent toxic dumping. The Department of Defense or Military Industrial Complex is the largest manufacturer of toxic waste and greenhouse gasses, next to the Cattle Industry on the planet.
Military installations top the list of Superfund sites in the U.S. The DOD/Pentagon has been exempt  from any and all international climate agreements including Kyoto. Dioxin contamination (Agent Orange) from the Vietnam War, depleted uranium, jet fuel and abandoned mines are just the tip of the toxic iceberg that the Pentagon has left for the world to contend with. Not counting the tons of obsolete or abandoned military equipment rusting away and bleeding out on the ocean floor since WWII, up until Iraq.
Photo by Amy Heiden
The appropriation of Superfund spending is questionable and since the corporate tax rates have expired, funding has been reduced sharply. Superfund is no longer solvent and the expense to clean up the sites is more than the funding allows. With all the time and money Congress wastes on the public’s dime it would be put to better use by finishing the work that’s been piling up in their inboxes over the years, instead of legislating newer and more invasive laws inconsequential to anyone’s big picture except the lobbyists.
The liberals are all about fossil fuels and pipelines and the conservatives are all about defense spending. But on one of the biggest Superfund sites in history, crickets chirp and tumbleweeds blow by. Not one pro-active peep from either side; while both sides ignore a brilliant opportunity to rally around a common cause that affects both platforms.
Here we have a military and defense issue linked to an egregious environmental and health issue; something that could bring both sides to the table in opening a practical dialogue about the future of warfare and our policies of sustainable destruction. Without the elimination or reduction of certain elements of the aggressive culture, we will never cure the ailments of society. Everything is relative to population and consumption. Over-consumption leads to war and war leads to industrialization and toxic waste. The Environmental Movement is silent on this and the Pro-business polluters are ecstatic.
This, Ladies and Gentlemen is a textbook example of crony capitalism; contrary to Carly Fiorina’s most creative and abstract interpretation of the term. When we continue to exploit our military personnel to this degree for the sake of the Military Industrial Complex, it provides neither national security nor economic sustainability.