Thursday, May 2, 2013

Another Cost of War: Getting Ready For War

Image credit: Lieutenant Hugh Randall Syme/Wikimedia

Democracy Now discusses another cost of war, which is the environmental cost of training for war:

On the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, thousands are commemorating the 10th anniversary of when the U.S. Navy stopped using their home as a bombing range. Since the 1940s, the Navy used nearly three-quarters of the island for bombing practice, war games and dumping old munitions. The bombing stopped after campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience, but the island continues to suffer. At the current cleanup rate, the Navy says, it will take until 2025 to remove all the environmental damage left by more than 60 years of target practice. A fisherman recently discovered a giant unexploded bomb underwater. The island of about 10,000 people also lacks a hospital to treat illnesses such as asthma and cancer that may be attributed to the military’s former bombing activity.

Punishing Vieques: Puerto Rico Struggles With Contamination 10 Years After Activists Expel U.S. Navy

The explosives and fuses used in munitions are often made from volatile chemicals. Burying these chemicals in the ground can create toxic chemical hazards for decades afterward, as this Puerto Rican island knows all too well. Given that, it's not surprising that there's increased incidence of cancer in this area. Given that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, it's not too surprising that those people can't get much in the way of medical care, either.

That's what you have to expect from a country that's more interested in blowing things up than it is in the health and welfare of its own people.

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