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Bombs in Our Backyard

Investigating One of America’s Greatest Polluters

The Pentagon has poisoned millions of acres and left Americans to guess at the threat to their health. Its oversight of thousands of toxic sites has been marked by defiance and delay.

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The Bomb That Went Off Twice

The explosive compound RDX helped make America a superpower. Now, it’s poisoning the nation’s water and soil.

Bombs in Your Backyard

The military spends more than a billion dollars a year to clean up sites its operations have contaminated with toxic waste and explosives. A full map of these sites — which exist in every state in the country, some near schools and residential neighborhoods — has never been made public; until now.

How Military Outsourcing Turned Toxic

Fraud. Bribery. Incompetence. The military’s use of contractors adds to a legacy of environmental damage.

Open Burns, Ill Winds

The Pentagon’s handling of munitions and their waste has poisoned millions of acres, and left Americans to guess at the threat to their health.

Other Entries

Defense Inspector General to Investigate Military’s Toxic Open Burning

The inquiry will evaluate whether the polluting practice is legal, and whether contractors have proper oversight.

How the EPA and the Pentagon Downplayed a Growing Toxic Threat

A family of chemicals — known as PFAS and responsible for marvels like Teflon and critical to the safety of American military bases — has now emerged as a far greater menace than previously disclosed.

Suppressed Study: The EPA Underestimated Dangers of Widespread Chemicals

The CDC has quietly published a controversial review of perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that indicates more people are at risk of drinking contaminated water than previously thought.

Congress Aims to Force Pentagon Reform on Open Burning of Munitions

A provision of the latest proposed defense spending bill mandates that the Department of Defense address one of its longstanding and dangerous sources of pollution.

Get an Inside Look at the Department of Defense’s Struggle to Fix Pollution at More Than 39,000 Sites

For the first time, the Pentagon’s internal database used to track its environmental problems is available to the public.

Canadian Research Adds to Worry Over an Environmental Threat the Pentagon Has Downplayed for Decades

A study released late last year gives environmental experts a way to quantify how much RDX, a chemical used in military explosives, is spreading into surrounding communities.

Long Story Short

An annotated history of the 30-year fight over a single polluted Air Force base.

War at Home

Unexploded ordnance. Open burns of munitions. Poisoned aquifers. Of all the military’s environmental hazards, the explosive compound RDX may be the greatest threat to America’s health.

Reporting Recipe: Bombs in Your Backyard

We published data on 40,000 hazardous sites across the country polluted by U.S. military operations. Here’s how journalists can find local stories.

Dangerous Pollutants in Military’s Open Burns Greater Than Thought, Tests Indicate

The first results in a national effort to better measure the levels of contaminants released through the burning of munitions and their waste show elevated levels of lead, arsenic and other toxins.

Kaboom Town

The U.S. military burns millions of pounds of munitions in a tiny, African-American corner of Louisiana. The town’s residents say they’re forgotten in the plume.

In Colfax, Echoes of Another Conflict

A photographer who covered the war in Iraq appreciates how threats can come to seem routine.

One Year, One Facility, 1.7 Million Pounds of Hazardous Waste Burned in Open Air

Explore every shipment of hazardous waste sent to Colfax in 2015 and was burned or detonated into open air.

Toxic Fires

Across the Country, Military Sites Burn Hazardous Waste Into Open Air

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