I recently read an article about a cleanup going on at the former Alameda Naval Air Station located at the western end of Alameda, CA in the San Francisco Bay. Because the city is working to redevelop the site, they need to first perform a cleanup of the toxic chemicals which have leaked into the land due to military operations. The site is about 2,500 acres, with about half of it submerged. The thing that struck me about this cleanup is that although I applaud the efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency operating under the Navy Comprehensive Environmental Response, part of the Compensation and Liability Act, I question why it is being done now. Why leave all this waste for one gigantic cleanup at one time?
I see this as an analogy to the trash situation in our municipality. If people stay on top of the trash and pick up small pieces of debris on a daily basis, there is no need to bring in the big guns on a yearly or so cleanup of an area which would involve a large effort, lots of money spent, and many man-hours consumed performing remediation. The military should use that kind of thinking and instead of dumping the substances they use for engine repair, plane maintenance, paint stripping, and missile rework operations, along with radium, paint chips, and jet fuel willy nilly on the land. Why not exercise some common sense to prevent the pollution in the first place?
There is an old adage that says "an ounce or prevention is worth a pound of cure". It is also true that a huge savings is realized without having to perform that pound. Daily avoidance of such things as litter, chemical spillage, and disregard for the land, could translate into valuable dollars saved.