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‘Toxic History’: Washington State Prepares to Sue US Navy Over Hazardous Dumping

Sputnik – January 18, 2019

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson warned Thursday that he is preparing to join a pending lawsuit against the US Navy for knowingly dumping toxic metals directly into waters around the state, despite having been urged by the EPA to find another disposal method.

The lawsuit cited by Ferguson was initially filed in June 2017 by the Suquamish Tribe and nonprofit organizations Puget Soundkeeper and the Washington Environmental Council. The suit alleges that the US Navy committed multiple violations of the Clean Water Act by its decision to release toxic substances into the Sinclair Inlet, which flows into the Puget Sound, and failed to obtain the proper permits when cleaning a decommissioned aircraft carrier, the USS Independence.

Ferguson told the Seattle Times that his office decided to join the lawsuit after reviewing a report in October 2018 that revealed what toxic chemicals were in the materials that had been scraped off the Independence in January 2017. Ferguson’s letter indicates that “approximately fifty dump truck loads of solid waste” were dumped into the waters.

Those chemicals included zinc, copper, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, various other metals and polychlorinated biphenyls. “As a result, the [Environmental Protection Agency] listed the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Complex as a Superfund site under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, and the federal government has spent millions of dollars remediating the sediments at the site,” the AG’s notice explains.

It should be noted that Washington State houses the US Navy’s Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, which is just one of three Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facilities in the US that work with decommissioned vessels.

According to Ferguson’s letter, Navy officials took no precautions to contain the waste, discharging it directly into the Sinclair Inlet, despite having been urged by the EPA to use a dry dock to perform the cleaning.

As such, the letter says, the Navy is in direct violation of the Clean Water Act and the Washington State Water Pollution Control Act and is creating an “imminent and substantial endangerment to the environment under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).”

“We ask that the Navy remedy its ongoing violations of the [Clean Water Act] and Washington law, and abate the imminent and substantial endangerment under RCRA, at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard by removing from Sinclair Inlet the debris from the ex-Independence and taking any other action necessary to stop and remediate the ongoing discharge of pollutants and related environmental harm caused by the Navy’s in-water hull cleaning activities,” the letter states, noting that should naval officials fail to meet Ferguson’s demands within the next 60 days, his office will have no other option than to join the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, et al. v. US Navy, et al. case.Ferguson, who established the state’s Counsel for Environmental Protection in 2016, told the Seattle Times earlier this week that “there’s more trouble ahead,” as another ship, the supercarrier USS Kitty Hawk, is expected to undergo a similar cleaning process at the Puget Sound facility.

But this isn’t the only example of the US military playing fast and loose with environmental regulations, Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear’s radioactive waste specialist, told Sputnik Friday. “There are countless examples of the US military unleashing environmental destruction,” he said, giving as an example the housing development built on radioactive, contaminated soil in California’s old Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

“The US Navy caused the radioactive contamination,” Kamps said. “Then a contractor hired during the supposed clean up, Tetra Tech, falsified testing samples, claiming the soils were cleaned up, when they were not.”

“This toxic history includes illegal and unethical dumping as has happened repeatedly in Puget Sound. Similarly, the US military dumped vast amounts of munitions, toxins and perhaps even radioactive waste into Lake Superior, after World War II,” he continued.

Other examples of the US’ environmental destruction include the Nevada Test Site, depleted uranium test firings in Vieques, Puerto Rico, and Jefferson Proving Ground in Ohio, where Kamps says government activities have resulted in “billions of dollars of clean up costs that may never be carried out.”

“Along the lines of the Washington State attorney general’s shock, such practices, incredibly, are not a thing of the past — they are still going on. They must stop, or tremendous damage to public health, safety and the environment will continue into the future, instead of being a tragic thing of the past.”

And it’s not just chemical dumping from the Navy’s facilities. A 2016 study carried out by NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the University of Washington found traces of soaps, industrial chemicals, the antidepressant Prozac and metformin, a diabetic medication, in the Puget Sound. Upon examining fish native to the Puget Sound, researchers found traces of such compounds within their tissue.

See also:

Nuclear Waste Shipments Expose Populations to Toxic Radiation

US Shores Up Toxic Waste Sites in Florida Ahead of Hurricane Irma – Environmental Agency

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

US Navy Plans To Release 20,000 Tons Of Explosives, Heavy Metals Into Pacific Ocean

By Whitney Webb | True Activist | November 25, 2016

The US Navy is set to release massive amounts of explosives and contaminants along the country’s Western coast over the next 20 years.

Several times a year, the US publicizes its “war games,” both domestic and abroad, allowing the massive, heavily-funded US military to showcase its might, develop new strategies, and test combat readiness. Yet, ignored all too often is the environmental impact of these exercises which, since World War I, have left behind tons of bombs, heavy metals, explosives, depleted uranium, missiles, and sonar buoys, which contaminate the world’s oceans and harm humans and marine animals alike. Even though the outright dumping of chemical weapons was banned in 1972, the Navy has continued to carry out a policy of “leaving behind” munitions and explosives following its military exercises. The Navy, for its part, insists that the “contamination of the marine environment by munitions constituent is not well documented,” though critics insist that the Navy has intentionally not looked for or measured its environmental impacts.

Indeed, this claim of the contamination not being “well documented” shows a willful ignorance of the abundant evidence that these pollutants have caused great harm to the environment, considering that even the US government admits that the Navy has been responsible for creating thousands of contaminated sites around the world. The Department of Defense, which includes the Navy, is the world’s largest polluter, producing more toxic waste annually than the five largest US chemical companies combined. In 1990, the Department of Defense admitted to having created more than 14,000 suspected contamination sites around the world. In 2014, the officially reported number rose to 39,000, but the actual figure is likely far greater.

Recently, the Navy’s path of environmental destruction has made headlines. In 2014, the Navy was caught illegally dumping wastewater into one of the world’s largest marine reserves. This past June, Pennsylvania’s governor urged over 70,000 residents from three different counties to sue the Navy over the contamination of their drinking water. The lawmaker suggested suing the Navy just for the funding to pay for blood tests proving how polluted their own bodies had become with heavy metals and other toxic substances. Just last month, the Port of San Diego sued the US Navy, as the Navy’s injection of toxic chemicals into the coastal waters threaten to contaminate the entire bay.

Now, the Navy has just announced its plan to release 20,000 tons of environmental “stressors” (i.e. toxic munitions, explosives, etc) into the coastal waters of the US Pacific Northwest. The plan is laid out in the Navy’s Northwest Training and Testing environmental impact statement (EIS). These “stressors” are documented by the EPA as known hazards, many of which are highly toxic at both acute and chronic levels. One of these chemicals is perchlorate. Perchlorate is incredibly persistent in the environment and it often appears in the breastmilk of women exposed to perchlorate-contaminated water. It also affects children and fetuses much more than they affect adults. Another common chemical, picric acid, can cause severe poisoning if only one gram is ingested. Others, such as TNT, remain chemically active in aquatic environments, bioaccumulate in fish, and can cause developmental and physiological problems in humans.

That’s not even the worst of it. The 20,000 tons of “stressors” mentioned in the EIS does not account for the additional 4.7 to 14 tons of “metals with potential toxicity” that the Navy plans to release annually into the inland waters along Puget Sound in Washington State, a heavily populated area including major population centers such as Seattle. In response to concern, a Navy spokeswoman said that heavy metals and even depleted uranium was no more dangerous than any other metal, a statement which is a clear rejection of scientific fact. It seems that the very US Naval operations meant to “keep Americans safe” comes at a higher cost than most people realize, one that will be felt for generations to come.

November 26, 2016 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

US Navy accused of covering up SEAL abuse of Afghan detainees

RT | December 17, 2015

Though several US soldiers accused a SEAL team of beating and waterboarding Afghan men detained after a checkpoint bombing, their commanding officer decided not to press charges. One of the Afghans died after the torment.

The incident took place in May of 2012 at a US outpost near the village of Kalach in southern Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province. Six SEALs, as well as four Army and four Navy personnel, were at the base, which was established to help train the Afghan Local Police (ALP), according to an investigation published on Thursday in the New York Times.

After their checkpoint was bombed on the morning of May 31, killing one officer, the ALP rounded up several suspects and marched them to the outpost for interrogation. At the end of the day, one of the detainees had died from his injuries. The soldiers on the base said that three of the SEALs were responsible.

Instead of putting a stop to the ALP abuse of the detainees, three enlisted members of the SEAL team joined in, witnesses said. They kicked prisoners, fired pistols next to their heads, dropped stones on them, and stepped on their heads, according to the testimonials given to the Navy’s criminal investigators (NCIS). The NCIS report, with all the names redacted, was obtained by the Times through a freedom-of-information request.

Some of the names were revealed in the Times report, however. Petty Officers First Class David Swarts and Daniel D’Ambrosio and Petty Officer Second Class Xavier Silva were named as the SEALs who took part in the abuse. Their officer, Lieutenant Junior Grade Jason Webb, was preoccupied elsewhere on the base.

Only Silva returned the Times’ requests for comment, saying only, “If you knew what it was like on the ground, it would look different.”

Staff Sergeant David Roschak reported the abuse on June 3, after the US forces had left the Kalach outpost for the provincial capital of Tirin Kot.

“My squad is being involved in a cover-up regarding the possible killing of detainees,” Roschak wrote.

Specialist David Walker, an Army medic who was one of the witnesses in the investigation, said the case was about right and wrong. “You can’t squint hard enough to make this gray,” the Times quoted Walker as saying in an interview.

In addition to other forms of abuse, Walker and another soldier testified that they had seen one SEAL pouring water on a detainee who was lying on his back in an improvised form of waterboarding torture.

At least three of the detainees were identified by name as well: Faisal Rehmat, Muhammad Hashem, and Assadullah – all itinerant scrap collectors in their mid-20s. After failing to beat any useful information out of the men, the SEALs released the prisoners. Hashem passed away that evening, complaining of crippling pain in his abdomen.

Before they were released, the SEALs took a photo of a bloodied Hashem with a Kalashnikov rifle placed across his chest, Assadullah said.

Despite the testimonies by the Army and Navy personnel on the base, Captain Robert E. Smith, who was in charge of the SEALs based on the East Coast at the time and currently serves as a military assistant to the secretary of the Navy, decided not to press formal charges.

Instead, he called up the members of Team 2 for an internal disciplinary hearing called a “captain’s mast” in November of 2012. They only faced charges for failing to report abuse by the Afghan militia, the Times reported. Smith dismissed those charges, giving the SEALs “letters of instruction” suggesting that they improve their “leadership and decision making” skills, according to the paper.

Smith explained that the testimonies of Army and Navy personnel who witnessed the incident were “inconsistent.” Prior to the hearing, Army witnesses were summoned for a videoconference with several senior SEALs who questioned them as to the exact details of events that had taken place months before, while pressuring them to change their testimonies.

“They were more concerned with the fact I couldn’t remember how many rounds were fired, instead of why they used a weapon at all while questioning the detainees,” Sergeant Roschak said.

Originally developed by the Army’s Special Forces, the Green Berets, the ALP program was supposed to be a mainstay of the US counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan. While the Green Berets at Kalach would address village elders with respect, have tea with them, and try persuasion rather than threats, the SEALs that replaced them were ill-suited for the civilian outreach mission, according to the Times.

The boisterous Navy operatives quickly got bored and frustrated with the mission and amused themselves by shooting at passing trucks, lobbing grenades over the walls of the base, threatening villagers working in the fields, and hitting children in the face with candy fired from slingshots. One SEAL even fired at a kitten that had crawled underneath a shed on the base, the Times reported.

According to the locals, however, the problem went deeper. Created by the Americans to fight the Taliban, the Afghan militia preferred to boss the civilians around – robbing merchants at gunpoint, ransacking homes and beating anyone who dared resist.

The ALP in Kalach “were like dogs, and the Americans were the masters,” said Hajji Ahmad Khan Muslim Gizabe, one of the local elders. “The masters would follow behind the dogs, telling them what to do.”

Though he initially supported President Hamid Karzai’s reforms, Gizabe told the Times he could no longer back the Americans after the 2012 incident.

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 3 Comments

Extra 136,500 sonobuoys US wants pose threat to whales

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RT | October 28, 2015

The US Navy continues to cover the oceans with tens of thousands of sonobuoys to monitor and detect submarine movement around the world. The DoD has allocated $178.5 million to buy an additional 136,000 sonobuoys.

About a meter-long, a typical sonobuoy device can be passive or active. The first type ‘listens’ to the noises produced by propellers of various kinds of vessels and pick out those made by a submarine. Active sonobuoys, sited in strategic points such as straits and harbors, can also sonar the water space around them to detect submarines.

The sonobuoys are usually positioned in designated areas from the air, typically by using SH-60F Seahawk helicopters.

“The United States Navy maintains a superior global Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability with the ability to detect, localize, identify, and track potential hostile submarines,” Global Security outlet said in 2011.

According to CNN, US sonobuoys are first and foremost aimed at tracking Russian submarines, over concerns they are “taking up positions near critical communication lines.”

Scientists say these sonar “intrusions” are proving deadly to marine wildlife, in particular whales. Sonar devices disrupt them and other sea mammals when nursing and feeding, which leads to injury or death of the animals who rely on sound to communicate and navigate, Elisa Allen, from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told RT.

“Sonars can confuse and disorient them, terrify these animals,” Allen said. “Animals exposed to sonars have been known to rapidly change their depth in an attempt to escape the noise. This causes them to bleed from their ears and eyes,” she said, adding that whales and dolphins often beach themselves in their attempts to escape sonar.

The lucrative $178,565,050 contract has been granted to ERAPSCO, a defense contractor in Columbia City, Indiana. Five types of sonobuoys are set to be delivered by October 2017.

ERAPSCO, a joint venture between the Sparton corporation and Ultra Electronics, has been producing military grade sonobuoys capable of detecting and classifying manmade objects traveling underwater since 1987.

October 28, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

US Navy to Promote Admiral Accused of Retaliating Against Whistleblowers

Sputnik – 23.10.2015

The US Navy is set to promote the admiral who illegally retaliated against staff members who he mistakenly suspected were whistleblowers.

Subordinates complained that Rear Admiral Brian L. Losey had wrongly fired, demoted or punished them while he searched for the person who had anonymously reported him for a minor travel-policy infraction.

Losey never identified the whistleblower. But as a result of the complaints, he was investigated five times by the Defense Department’s inspector general, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post.

In three of the five cases, the inspector general recommended that the Navy take action against Losey for violating whistleblower-protection laws.

The Navy, however, dismissed the findings this month and decided not to discipline Losey, the admiral in charge of its elite SEAL teams and other commando units.

Senior Navy leaders reviewed the inspector general’s investigations but “concluded that none of the allegations rose to the level of misconduct on Admiral Losey’s part,” Rear Admiral Dawn Cutler, a Navy spokeswoman, said in a statement to the Post. She added that “no further action is contemplated.”

Losey objected to the complaints, saying that the subordinates were poor performers and that he had acted within his authority as a commander, the Post reports.

Losey is now back on track for a promotion to higher rank as a two-star admiral. He was selected for the promotion in 2011, but it was put on hold because of the inquiries.

Whistleblowers in the military are unlikely to see redress. Of the 1,196 whistleblower cases closed by the Defense Department during the 12 months ending March 31, only 3% were upheld by investigators, according to records obtained by the Post.

October 24, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | , , | 1 Comment

Why did US Navy pull US Aircraft Carrier out of Persian Gulf?

Greencrow As the Crow Flies | October 10, 2015
The US has had an aircraft carrier stationed in the Persian Gulf ever since 2007.  In the past week, the US Navy pulled the USS Theodore Roosevelt out of the Gulf.  This sudden move, just when the Russian battleships, fitted with their pinpoint accuracy cruise missiles, sailed in to conduct a coordinated assault on the ISIS encampments in Syria.  Now… I ask myself… why would the US do this?  Why wouldn’t the US want to maintain a strong presence in the Gulf…under such unprecedented circumstances?  The only hunch I could come up with was that the US Military realized that the Theodore Roosevelt was woefully inadequate to stand up to the Russian “threat”… by that, I mean the threat of the radar (Khibiny) jamming capacity of the Russian Navy.  We wouldn’t want a repeat of the ignominious “Donald Cook” incident, now would we?
Perhaps the topic will come up when Russian and US military leaders get together this weekend to discuss air security in the Gulf.

October 10, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment