The federal government appears to have significantly underestimated the amount of lead, arsenic and other dangerous pollutants that are sent into the air from uncontrolled burning of hazardous waste at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Virginia, according to a draft of a long-awaited report compiled by researchers at the Environmental Protection Agency.

The report details results from air sampling done last September and October at the Radford plant above an open field where piles of waste from the manufacture of weapons explosives are set afire daily. The plumes drift directly towards an elementary school and residents a little more than a mile away, but the Army and regulators have long maintained that the pollution level is safe, based on its computer-modeled estimates.

Now, it turns out, some of those estimates were wrong.

The data shows that five substances were found at levels greater than the EPA’s models had predicted, meaning that previous health-risk analyses completed by regulators for the burns at Radford did not fully take into account the potential exposure of the surrounding population.

Arsenic, a chemical element known to cause cancer and skin lesions, was found to be emitted at rates 37 times what the previous Radford burn permit estimated.

 

Read the whole story from ProPublica.

Featured image courtesy of U.S. Army

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