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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 16th June 2017 > TOXIC BURN NOTICE

TOXIC BURN NOTICE

Destroying hazardous waste out in the open is banned in the U.S., with one glaring exception: the military

TWO YEARS ago, after Erin Card moved within 2 miles of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in southwest Virginia, she began noticing threads of smoke that occasionally rose above the heavily wooded site. She started asking about it and was stunned by what she learned: Toxic explosives were being burned in the open air. “It just seems crazy to me,” says Card.

There is no proof the fumes have harmed Card’s family, which has lived in the area for more than a decade, yet her husband had cancer (he’s now in remission), and their eldest boy, 5-year-old Rex, had a cyst by his thyroid removed. “Sometimes,” Card says, “I feel sick to my stomach with worry.”

The open burning and detonation of hazardous waste munitions—including small arms cartridges, rockets, mortars, artillery shells and tactical missiles—is banned in many countries, and in the United States, private industry long ago abandoned the practice, which is blamed for toxic air, soil and water pollution.

But the U.S. military and Department of Energy continue the open burning and detonation of explosives—and, in a few cases, even radioactive waste—under a 1980 exemption from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA granted the exemption to provide time to develop better disposal techniques. Today, the U.S. allows open burning and detonation in at least 39 locations, according to federal data. The government also continues the practice in Guam and the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

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Freedom From Choice - Political operatives used fake news, Big Data and Facebook to suppress the vote and rile up racists in 2016. It’s going to be even uglier next time ’round.