Category Archives: US Military

Sign Sept 2021 Petition Against F-35 Harm

Sign here 

The people of Madison and Wisconsin say…
“That the F-35 is a first strike, offensive weapon designed to carry the most dangerous weapon in our nuclear arsenal, the B61-12 guided nuclear bomb. By virtue of housing the delivery vehicle for this nuclear bomb and training pilots to fly it, Madison becomes a target.

That the F-35 project will have a disproportionately negative impact on low-income people, people of color, and children. The Air Force has admitted this in its own Environmental Impact Statement.

That there will be an expected 135% increase in CO2 emissions. Long-term exposure to CO2 creates breathing complications and respiratory illness, decreased cognitive decision making and problem-solving, and heart disease.

That Truax Field will require more PFAS and chemicals to put out an F-35 fire, compromising the safety of Madison’s drinking water, which is already severely, and possibly irreversibly, contaminated.

That this project will cost taxpayers $1.7 trillion over its lifetime, and more than $30,000 per hour to fly one F-35.

Therefore, with all these concerns in mind, we call on you, our senator, to reverse your support of the deployment of the F-35 at Truax Field. We also ask that you pursue a new mission for the Air National Guard at Truax, one that aligns with our humane values of peace, equity, sustainability and overall concern for the health and security of our residents.

3M’s support for PFAS could cost taxpayers billions of dollars

The failure of manufacturers to report and deal with potential PFAS problems when they learned of them is saddling the companies with mounting legal costs.

Members of a 3M committee at headquarters in Maplewood had two big questions to answer in spring of 1978.

Did studies showing PFAS chemicals were more toxic to animals than 3M thought pose risks to public health and the environment? Or did research that PFAS were collecting in the bodies of 3M workers pose risks to public health and the environment?

If the answer to either or both questions was yes, the 3M Fluorochemicals Technical Review Committee knew it was required to tell the federal government about those risks within 15 days. Instead, confidential meeting minutes show, committee members decided the evidence wasn’t strong enough to warn the government or the public.

Yet the confidential minutes of a second meeting a month later also show the committee “urgently recommended that all reasonable steps be taken immediately to reduce exposure of employees to these compounds.”

These 40-year-old choices, found among tens of thousands of pages of secret documents unsealed by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and a Washington County judge, represented a critical juncture, say public health and environmental advocates.

The failure of 3M and other manufacturers, such as DuPont, to publicly report and deal with potential PFAS problems when they first learned of them is saddling the companies with mounting legal costs because of lawsuits brought by several states and individuals. And it’s about to cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.

3M told the Star Tribune that it has paid “more than $1.2 billion” to treat PFAS pollution. That is a fraction of the $10 billion in taxpayer funds the country’s new bipartisan infrastructure bill allocates for PFAS cleanup. Other proposed PFAS pollution bills in Congress allocate billions more to clean up a mess 3M and other corporations made.

The Department of Defense spent $1.1 billion on PFAS cleanup in 2020 and estimates it will spend $2.1 billion more in 2021, according to the Government Accountability Office. Officials say it will take decades to address the pollution.

University of Michigan Prof. Allen Burton, editor of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, said knowledge that PFAS was accumulating in humans “should have been enough to stop production.”

It wasn’t. 3M and others chose not to tell the public what they knew. They continued using PFAS that, over time, spread to the bodies of most Americans and hundreds of millions around the world. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS, do not break down naturally. Instead, they migrate throughout the environment, circulating through surface and groundwaters, soils and air. This results in potentially substantial exposures and increases in fish, wildlife and humans.

And as part of a $671 million lawsuit settlement in 2017, Dupont convened a panel to study a 3M-made PFAS called PFOA. DuPont and Chemours Co., which produced Teflon in Parkersburg, W.Va., using the 3M product, denied any wrongdoing. However, Dupont’s panel concluded that PFOA was likely linked to kidney and testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, and hypertension during pregnancy for people living around the Teflon plant.

The FDA says the data are “inadequate to evaluate cancer effects associated with PFBS exposure,” referring to one of the chemicals in the PFOA class. But the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, has classified PFOA as possibly carcinogenic.

‘Defend our record’

To this day, 3M stands by its handling of PFAS. The company still argues that PFAS are safe to humans in the levels that exist in the environment. The company says it still makes and uses some of the fluorochemicals “to help make innovations like lifesaving medical devices and low-emission vehicles possible.”

“3M acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS … and will vigorously defend our record of environmental stewardship,” the company said in June.

PFAS are used in hundreds of everyday products from waterproof clothing and Teflon cookware to food packaging and firefighting foam. It took until the early 2000s for the public to begin to learn that these chemicals also had major problems. By then, PFAS had polluted municipal water systems, groundwater, landfills and military bases at thousands of sites across America. For instance, a new report shows PFAS groundwater pollution at an Air National Guard base near Duluth.

“Cleaning up PFAS contamination is a Biden-Harris administration priority,” an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokeswoman told the Star Tribune in an e-mail. “The administration is currently discussing options for moving forward with the designation of PFOA and PFOS as a hazardous substance.”

After the EPA under former President Donald Trump strongly opposed a major PFAS regulation bill, new EPA chief Michael Regan has created a new Council on PFAS and is “evaluating the best available science to establish” enforceable maximum contaminant levels for PFOA and PFOS, the most toxic kinds of PFAS, in drinking water, the spokeswoman said.

States are also exploring legislation and regulations. This spring, the Minnesota Legislature banned PFAS from food packaging by 2024.

“There is a substantial amount of peer-reviewed literature documenting adverse effects, which is why there is [now] so much regulatory activity,” Burton said. “I think 3M is on the hook for a lot in this international catastrophe.”

In June, Joanne Stanton told a U.S. Senate committee that she is one of three women on the same street in Warminster, Pa., with a child who developed cancerous brain tumors containing embryonic tissue. Stanton told the Star Tribune that all the mothers and children grew up drinking water heavily polluted with PFAS used in firefighting foam at two nearby military bases.

Research shows that PFAS can cross the placenta from mother to fetus, said Jamie DeWitt, a PFAS researcher at East Carolina University. Breast-feeding babies can also ingest PFAS from their mothers, Harvard epidemiologist Philippe Grandjean said.

Milwaukee Area Water Poisoned by Military PFAS Forever Chemicals

original article Laura Schulte

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1 Sep 2021

‘Forever chemicals’ from a military installation at Mitchell Airport are a risk to nearby drinking wells, Lake Michigan, a report says

also PFAS Timeline and History – EWG

“Despite testing that found “forever chemicals” at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport two years ago, the Department of Defense has yet to move forward with a plan to address the contamination, putting nearby residents with private drinking wells at risk.

The Department of Defense was notified by the state Department of Natural Resources that it was the responsible party for contamination from PFAS — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — in ground and surface water near the airport in 2019, but no action has yet been taken, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group.

The environmental advocacy group looked at publicly available data related to PFAS testing at DOD sites across the Great Lakes region and found that several sites, including Mitchell Airport, could be contaminating not only groundwater but the lakes that give the area its name.

 

Some of the highest levels of the chemicals were found in private drinking wells along the borders of the Milwaukee airport, said Jared Hayes, a policy analyst with the Environmental Working Group. And because no aggressive action has been taken since the discovery of the compounds, some residents in the area may not even know they’re at risk.

 

The department ordered that the airport needed to determine the source of the contamination, prevent future discharges and develop a cleanup plan. At the time, levels were not high enough to be considered a public health concern, but the department wanted the water utility to monitor levels.

Included in the testing results in 2019 were about six compounds, including PFOA and PFOS, two of the most researched PFAS chemicals.

Though recommendations at the time called for wastewater utilities to start measuring for PFAS, no such rules have yet been instituted, because the utilities are not the source of chemicals but merely a receiver as the chemicals are washed down drains across the state.

Milwaukee isn’t the only city to face a PFAS contamination stemming from its airport. In Madison, contamination stemming from the Dane County Regional Airport — where the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard is stationed — has been linked to high levels of PFAS in a nearby lake and some nearby wells.

On French Island, which is home to the La Crosse Regional Airport on one side and the Town of Campbell on the other, over a thousand people are receiving bottled water after PFAS were found in private drinking water across the island. Research into the airport’s past has shown that ongoing testing of PFAS-containing firefighting foam and foam used to put out blazes caused by plane crashes are likely responsible for most of the contamination.

PFAS are a family of man-made chemicals used for their water- and stain-resistant qualities in products like clothing and carpet, nonstick cookware, packaging and firefighting foam. The family includes 5,000 compounds, which are persistent, remaining both in the environment and the human body over time.

Ray McGovern: Hold the Generals Accountable

By Ray McGovern

Original Link  

 

If, after the horrors of this week in Afghanistan, the 4-Starry-eyed generals responsible for this 20-year March of Folly are not held accountable, there will be still worse to come. None were held accountable for the disasters of Vietnam or Iraq, and now the allegedly smart 4-Star Generals and Admirals are – get this – preparing for war with China and Russia.

“Civilian control” of the military is a fiction when the Departments of Defense and State are headed by windsock politicians like Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton, not to mention President Barack Obama who lacked the spine to stand up to political generals like David Petraeus. This was clear as a bell 12 years ago, when on March 24, 2009, Obama announced his first surge of troops into Afghanistan.

He claimed his decision was the result of a “careful policy review” by military commanders and diplomats, the Afghan and Pakistan governments, NATO, and other international organizations. That he did not mention any intelligence input into this key decision for a slow surge in troops and trainers was not an oversight. There was no intelligence input – just as there was none before the benighted “surge” of U.S. troops into Iraq in 2007, during which an extra thousand GIs were killed.

Gen. David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were in charge, and they knew best. They would run their own policy review, thank you very much. And if the outcome meant an automatic fourth star for the generals, who’s to complain.

The pressure on Obama was so clear that when he announced his decision to surge troops into Afghanistan I wrote “Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President.”

“The road ahead will be long,” Obama warned. That part he got right; that was guaranteed by the strategy adopted.

It seemed only right and fitting that Barbara Tuchman’s daughter, Jessica Tuchman Mathews, then-president of the Carnegie Foundation, showed herself to be inoculated against the kind of “cognitive dissonance” about which her historian mother Barbara Tuchman warned in her classic book, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam. In a January 2009 Carnegie report on Afghanistan concluded, “The only meaningful way to halt the insurgency’s momentum is to start withdrawing troops. The presence of foreign troops is the most important element driving the resurgence of the Taliban.”

Many old hands in intelligence and the military were also highly skeptical, but Congress and the mainstream media remained bedazzled by the medals and merit badges of Petraeus and other generals, some of whom looked forward to another star and kept their mouths shut. Only one summoned the courage to speak out. He happened to be the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, who a few months before had publicly contradicted his boss, Defense Secretary Gates, when Gates started talking up the prospect of a “surge” of troops in Afghanistan.

McKiernan insisted publicly that no Iraqi-style “surge” of forces would end the conflict in Afghanistan. “The word I don’t use for Afghanistan is ‘surge,’” McKiernan said, adding that what is required is a “sustained commitment” that could last many years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.

One argument Gates adduced to support his professed optimism made us veteran intelligence officers gag – at least those who remember the US in Vietnam in the 1960s, the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s and other failed counterinsurgencies.

“The Taliban holds no land in Afghanistan, and loses every time it comes into contact with coalition forces,” Gates explained. Was he unaware that his remark echoed one made by US Army Col. Harry Summers as the Vietnam war was approaching its own denouement?

In 1974, Summers was sent to Hanoi to try to resolve the status of Americans still listed as missing. To his North Vietnamese counterpart, Col. Tu, Summers made the mistake of bragging, “You know, you never beat us on the battlefield.”

Colonel Tu responded, “That may be so, but it is also irrelevant.”

Obama’s generals resemble all too closely the gutless general officers who never looked down at what was really happening in Vietnam. The ones standing behind Obama at the press conference on March 24, 2009 had smarts – but not courage – enough to have told him: NO; IT’S A BAD IDEA, Mr. President.

That should not have been too much to expect. Sadly, after that press conference it was easy to predict: “Gallons of blood are likely to be poured unnecessarily in the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan – probably over the next decade or longer. But not their [4-star] blood.”

It Will Happen Again, Unless…

This time there must be accountability for Afghanistan. The more so since generals and admirals, active duty and retired, are going off half-cocked. Some of them, like Admiral Charles Richards, head of US Strategic Command, are saying nuclear war is possible. Earlier this year Richard wrote that the US must shift from a principal assumption that nuclear weapons’ use is nearly impossible to “nuclear employment is a very real possibility.”

And retired Adm. James Stavridis, former commander of NATO, is already talking about war with China “perhaps ten years from now.”

Accountability and effective civilian control of such general officers can prevent the next March of Folly.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).