New research conducted by environmental justice scholars at Vermont’s Bennington College reveals that between 2016 and 2020, the US military oversaw the “clandestine burning” of more than 20 million pounds of Aqueous Fire Fighting Foam in low-income communities around the country—even though there is no evidence that incineration destroys the toxic “forever chemicals” that make up the foam and are linked to a range of cancers, developmental disorders, immune dysfunction, and infertility.
“In defiance of common sense and environmental expertise, the Department of Defense (DOD) has enlisted poor communities across the US as unwilling test subjects in its toxic experiment with burning AFFF,” David Bond, associate director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action at Bennington College, said (pdf) in a statement earlier this week.
Noting that scientists, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and even Pentagon officials have warned that “burning AFFF is an unproven method and dangerous mix that threatens the health of millions of Americans,” Bond characterized the decision of the military to dump huge stockpiles of AFFF and AFFF wastewater into “a handful of habitually negligent incinerators” as a “harebrained” operation as well as a manifestation of environmental injustice.
“In effect,” he added, “the Pentagon redistributed its AFFF problem into poor and working-class neighborhoods.”
After months of compiling and analyzing data—obtained last year from the Pentagon and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation—the team from Vermont launched an interactive website this week that publicizes for the first time the results of their investigation into all known shipments of AFFF to hazardous waste incinerators in the US.
The Bennington College researchers summarized their findings as follows:
Government has been doing this shit to its “citizens” from Day One. You would think people would catch on at some point.