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Military & the Environment: Sources of Military Pollution
Research & Development
Military research and development (R&D) is enormously costly to the environment. The process of creating new weaponry involves highly toxic chemicals, metals, biological pathogens, and radioactive materials.
Base Industrial Activities
Military bases can be like small industrial cities. In addition to the gas stations, dry cleaners, and storm water pollutants that are typical of any city, military bases can host a wide variety of heavy industrial activities from ship repair to ordnance manufacture.
Aircraft, ships, motor vehicles, and electronic equipment require extensive ongoing maintenance and repair.
Training involves the use of actual weapons and ordnance, the regular flight of aircraft, and use of tanks, armored personnel transport, field artillery pieces, ships and submarines.
While training exercises involve developing competence in the use of military equipment, war games simulate actual combat, often involving multiple service branches and including militaries of other nations. The can also be quite large, involving tens of thousands of individuals. Tractor driven vehicles such as tanks, armored personnel carriers and heavy artillery can wreak havoc on habitats such as wetlands, coastal dunes and beaches, forests, and desert ecologies. The use of live fire can leave unexploded ordnance, ordnance waste, depleted uranium waste, and heavy metals in the environment.
Although warfare has almost always had an affect on the environment, modern combat has impacts orders of magnitude greater than any experience in past history.
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