Firm attorney Steven Pollack co-wrote Assessment of Lethal Chemical and Conventional Munitions in the Nation's Waters that was a report commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control from a panel of independent subject matter experts on underwater munitions. Pollack was asked to co-write the report with James Barton, a panel member and well known munitions expert, having served as a Navy underwater explosive ordnance disposal technician for over a decade. Pollack has been challenging Department of Defense's environmental inaction at its former sites in Illinois since 1997.
The report was recently cited in an article published on Truthout website:
Government Won't Remove Thousands of Tons of Potentially Toxic Chemical Weapons Dumped Off US Coasts
by Daniel Ross, Truthout
From the article:
Advocates Seek Further Investigation
Beyond ocean dumping, experts point to a lack of action concerning munitions dumped in bodies of water -- ponds, lakes, rivers and estuaries -- within the continental US, from activities like shore-based gunnery practice, research activities and ship and aerial bombardment. A combination of high cleanup costs and lack of adequate oversight explain why the DoD has failed to remediate these sites, said Steve Pollack, an Illinois licensed attorney who co-authored the CDC report published earlier this year. "It costs money from its budget to assess and retrieve munitions," he said, arguing that the DoD has been historically reluctant to funnel adequate funds into environmental cleanup programs.
In the report, Pollack pinpoints some known mainland underwater dump sites, including a number within the Great Lakes, which have long been used to dispose of conventional and radiological wastes. Lead contamination from artillery fired from an FBI firing range into Lake Michigan threatens municipal drinking water in the area, the report finds. Meanwhile, approximately 300,000 munitions fired from the Erie Army Depot cover some 8,000 acres at the bottom of Lake Erie.
Within the DoD's Formerly Used Defense Sites program -- tasked with cleaning up former DoD properties -- there are potentially more than 400 sites containing underwater munitions totaling more than 10 million acres, according to an internal 2010 white paper. The US Navy and US Marine Corps identified an additional 33 sites containing underwater munitions.
"We, the public, learn of existing sites once someone comes in contact with dangerous munitions," said Pollack. He added that the public should be concerned about the contaminants that make up unexploded munitions, "especially because the Great Lakes are the source of fresh drinking water for all the people around them."