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"Today the U.S. military generates over one-third of our nation's toxic waste, which it disposes of very poorly. The military is one of the most widespread violators of environmental laws. People made ill by this toxic waste are, in effect, victims of war. But they are rarely acknowledged as such...
"In 2003, when the Defense Department sought (and later received) exemptions from America's main environmental laws, the irony dawned on us. The military was given license to pollute air and water, dispose of used munitions, and endanger wildlife with impunity. The Defense Department is willing to poison the very citizens it is supposed to protect in the cause of national security...
"Last week a study was released by the National Academy of Sciences, raising already substantial concerns about the cancer risks and other health hazards associated with exposure to TCE, a solvent used in adhesives, paint and spot removers that is also "widely used to remove grease from metal parts in airplanes and to clean fuel lines at missile sites." The report confirms a 2001 EPA document linking TCE to kidney cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, impaired neurological function, autoimmune disease and other ailments in human beings.
"The report has been garnering some publicity, but not as much as it deserves. TCE contamination is disturbingly common, especially in the air, soil and water around military bases. Nationwide millions of Americans are using what Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, D-NY, has called "TCE-laden drinking water." The Associated Press reports that the chemical has been found at about 60 percent of the nation's worst contaminated sites in the Superfund cleanup program" (Sunaura Taylor and Astra Taylor. "Military Waste In Our Drinking Water." AlterNet. Posted August 4, 2006.)
"At the behest of the chemical boys, oil giants, and other polluters, George W.'s corporate-serving monkey-wrenchers have gone after the Environmental Protection Agency's network of regional research libraries. Good grief--librarians? Why would the polluter powers bother with these simple keepers of knowledge?
"Precisely because knowledge is power... the EPA libraries are treasure troves of organized, detailed information about specific polluters--what they are doing, where they're doing it, and to whom. Corporations don't like it when We the People have knowledge that can be used to halt their polluting...
"Already, they've closed libraries in Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, and Washington, as well as the EPA's principal library for evaluating new chemicals. In the agency's five remaining libraries, hours have been severely shortened, and public access has been curtailed" (Hightower, Jim. "Ignorance is Power." Texas Observer, Dec. 15, 2006: 15).
Colby Glass, MLIS