1994 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Aimee Houghton <aimeeh@igc.org>
Date: Mon, 07 Nov 1994 15:37:56 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-military
FILE: C:\WP\CURR\MIL-ENV.US * October 30, 1994 / 13:14

***126 LINES OF TEXT***
**This article address the difficulty of obtaining acurate documents
about the environmental contamination of US and NATO military
bases in Germany.**

Re: Environment Problems Caused by the US Military in Germany
 BY: Burkard Luber

Enviro aspects by the US mil in GE has not been a major issue till about
Before that local people might have lamented about mil LLF, mil vehicles'
traffic congestions, harvest destructions from US exercises or POL leakages
affecting areas around US bases. But there has never been a major resistance.
Protests if any were calmed down with the overall argu that the US are
defending us against the Soviets and that we have to pay a price for our
The situation changed in 1988 when I started a regular screening of all US
Congress MilCon Hearings about GE and shared that investigations with local
politicians, GE congress lawmakers and the media primarily for the GE state
Rhineland-Palatinate = the region southwest of Frankfurt which has the
US deployment in GE = all important USAF ABs (among them: Ramstein =
biggest out of CONUS installation), many (nuc) depots and a huge intelli-
gence/milcomm warfare structure. The MilCon docus, though not classified
had been totally unknown in Germany and were difficult to obtain, translate
and understand due to their tech jargon. In my annual analysis of the MilCon
Hearings I found beside the normal construction planning facts a growing
number of enviro related info: when the US admitted for example:
- enviro damages due to insufficient sewage structure
- careless handling of hazardous chemicals
- dangers from weapons maintenance etc

>From 1988 the awareness for enviro related issues caused be US mil presence
has grown. The reasons:
- people just know much more about that problems now or wanted to know
more about them. So in my recent publication "Disarmament Atlas" for the 1st
time in GE I published a systematic list of all US mil installations in
GE with
info about their precise locations, mil functions, square size so that
and grassroots could check now exactly which US installations should be
watched for possible enviro damages.
-lawmakers in GE have developed more knowledge about the legal aspects on
the enviro/mil issue. For example Mrs Dr Ines Reich, a lawyer working as
consultant in the Rhineland-Palatinate congress analyzed very profoundly all
enviro-related aspects of the NATO deployment treaty regulating the non-
German troops deployment here. She and I also got hands on a number of
official USAR regulations on enviro aspects which we are now using in the
local protests against on-going mil-enviro problems.
A major obstacle for possible local pressure is that mostly local groups
deal directly with the US officials. They are dependent on what the state or
even federal government persons are doing. In many cases the higher GE
government ranks are neither competent in knowing the appropriate legal
approach to face mil-generated enviro damages and/or are not willing to
proceed in that area due to political reasons ("we do not want to
interfere with
our Allies"). Local administrations are also not allowed to check the US
on enviro aspects. I do not know about any law suit filed against the US Mil
but it was a major breakthrough when Dr Reich found that the decisive
regulations for enviro-protection which obliges NATO troops in GE is the so-
called principle of the "higher level for enviro regulations" which
means: when
both host and deployment nation have enviro regulations valid for mil
installations those regulation which is more substantial, more rigid and more
comprising has to be applied. Summarized I would say that there are good
chances to challenge the US mil on enviro aspects in GE, the question is more
whether GE state agencies are WILLING to implement the challenge - often
they are NOT... And of course it is often a question of having enough
info at
all. Not before 1983 I got hold of the USAF and AR property inventories of
their mil installations in GE with detailed info on all buildings,
pipelines etc on US bases here (from fire protection till garbage collection)
which from that point onwards I often use when grassroots or politicians ask
me to advice them in enviro problems on US bases.

I think it is very non-democratic that the US mil officials still have so
studies about necessary clean-ups in German under classification especially
what the details about damages and necessary costs are concerned. And I think
that this US attitude is even worse in a situation when more and more US mil
installations are now due to be closed because of US troops reductions in EU:
Since the chances and possibilities of civilian re-use of the now given
up US
mil installations are highly dependent on the knowledge about enviro problems
there (or - even better - on a sufficient clean-p for the base) the enviro
problem of US bases is now not only a mere environment-related one any
longer but becomes more and more an economic issue too: Potential industrial
managers interested to take over former US installations are of course
to do so if they do not know details about the contaminations there.
A severe problem within the whole problem of clean-up of bases is that there
is still an unsolved political struggle on the question: Who pays? Here
the local
administrations are often frustrated. The US sometimes have said in press
conferences "We will leave our bases clean". But what does "clean" mean
exactly? What are the standards of cleanness? How willing are the US to make
investigations on the present enviro conditions? Will they publish their
standards or will they do it behind closed doors so leaving the task to GE
officials to counter-check afterwards? Who decides if US and GE estimates

I think the matter is one of GE agencies' responsibility especially since
have dealt and still are dealing with the issue so luke-warm and incompetent.
So the message by me I and my political friends in Mainz parliament is never
anti-US, it is more against GE administrations to stir them up to use their
rights more extensively and struggle more aggressively in their political
negotiations with the US.

Within a parliamentary pilot group together with lawmakers I did a primary
evaluating of all contaminated areas on the USAB Zweibruecken, the 1st
closed in GE. I think the tendency from side of the US is to
under-estimate the
extent and costs of the enviro damages. Of course it is mostly a matter which
standard you apply for clean-up and restoration when it comes to cost
estimates. But it makes pre-occupied that a number of studies concerning mil
clean-up in GE are under classification and - from what has nevertheless been
leaked form them - that the reason for that seems that the US officials
are too
frightened on the row which would start once the real (damage and cost)
would be accessible for the public.

Within a conversion feasibility study for the largest NATO military training
area in Europe (Bergen in N-Germany where also US troops have trained
regularly) which I chair we just have published a law study which shows that
also non-German troops are not exempt from German (environment-related)
laws regulations, the crucial point is whether GE authorities do force the
foreign troops to oblige to them. Lepsius' phone is 01149-89-5231213

Some Books with data on enviro problems caused by US mil in GE:
B.L: Rhineland-Palatinate - A Militarized Country
B.L: Disarmament Atlas for Germany
B.L. Peace Plan for Rhineland-Palatinate (includes a detailed section of
problems at US mil installations there)
Oliver Lepsius: NATO regulations for military training areas in

Contact Persons: Dr Ines Reich, assistant in the Rhineland-Palatinate
State Parliament, phone 01149-6131-686183, fax 01149-6131-228089 /
Andreas Jacob, M.Sc, works on conversion in Rhineland-Palatinate, phone
01149-631-36245-0, fax 01149-631-36245-99

you should mention my name when contacting them

References on the issue of environmental damages from US military in
Europe, esp. in Germany
(from Burkhard Luber's archive)

1) Single cases:

John Broder: US Military Leaves Toxic Train Overseas, in LAT Jun 18, 1990

Grabenstroer, Michael: Contaminated US-Bases in Germany, Frankfurter
Rundschau, Jun 29, 1990

Nowakowski, Gerd: Poison - the legacy of US-German Friendship, in:
Tageszeitung Berlin, Nov 26, 1990

German Authority Report on radiation material at US Depot Nahbollenbach
(German State Rhineland-Palatinate), July 1988

Oil Scandal in US Neureuth Barracks (German State Baden-Wuerttemberg),
May 1991

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