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TOXIC UNDERGROUND

The EPA is allowing contaminated groundwater to go untreated—with potentially dangerous consequences

@1danross

HASTE AND WASTE: The Hanford Site in Washington, the location of the nation’s biggest nuclear cleanup. Part of the problem is being handled with a process that could jeopardize drinking water supplies.
TED S. WARREN/AP

THE REMAINS of the George Air Force Base on the edge of California’s Mojave Desert are little more than a dusty sprawl of squat buildings, their roofs riddled with holes, their hinged windows lapping open and shut in the dry wind.

The Clinton administration decommissioned the base in 1992, but this crumbling ghost town carries a worrisome legacy—a stew of toxic waste that has been the target of a federal cleanup, which is still under way after two decades of work and more than $100 million in spending.

At George, as at many other military bases, chemicals and jet fuel were leaked or haphazardly disposed of for years, polluting hundreds of acres of groundwater. Trichloroethylene, a cancer-causing solvent, has contaminated two aquifers underneath the base and threatens a third aquifer, as well as the Mojave River. It has also tainted monitoring wells at a nearby wastewater reclamation plant and forced workers there to drink bottled water as a precaution.

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KILLER INSTINCT: IS NORTH KOREA'S KIM JONG UN OUT OF CONTROL Kim Jong Nam was the half-brother of the current North Korean ruler, Kim Jong Un, but the two likely never met. Nam was thirteen years older, and "they were raised in separate households,’’ says a former South Korean intelligence analyst, “and [Kim Jong Nam] was shipped off to Switzerland for school as a boy. No way they ever met.” Which makes what happened on February 13 that much more confounding and disturbing. Shortly before 9 a.m., as Kim Jong Nam walked through an airport terminal, he was approached by two women; one walked in front of him, as if to distract him, while the other slipped behind him. Both quickly touched his face and then hurried off. Twenty minutes later he was dead. The assassination, unquestionably ordered by Kim Jong Un, was stunning in its brazenness: out in the open, easy for security cameras to capture and then display to the world. But is this killing just the beginning of a lethal spree?
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