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'Bomb Under Drinking Water': Danish Military Accused of Years of Pollution

© Royal Danish Air ForceA B-1B Lancer flies with a Danish F-16 during a training mission for Bomber Task Force Europe, May 5, 2020.
A B-1B Lancer flies with a Danish F-16 during a training mission for Bomber Task Force Europe, May 5, 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.10.2021
At Danish air bases in Aalborg, Karup and Skrydstrup, harmful synthetic organofluorine substances, which damage the immune system and lead to cancer and abortion, were found with values up to 1,000 times above the maximum allowed concentration.
Harmful substances from drills held at Danish Armed Forces' air stations have for years polluted groundwater and the local environment, and the military has followed the spread without intervening, TV2 reported, citing internal documents.
At the country's three current air stations – in Aalborg, Karup and Skrydstrup – PFAS substances have been found with values between 100 and 1,000 times above the maximum allowed concentration in groundwater. PFAS orper- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a group of harmful toxins that damage the immune system and cause more infections, increasing the risk of certain types of cancer and of involuntary abortion.
“These are very high concentrations, which I am not happy to see”, Lisbeth Knudsen, professor at the University of Copenhagen and researcher in the dangerous toxins, said.
The PFOS toxins in particular came into the spotlight after a recent case in Korsør, where more than 100 residents became poisoned after eating beef from cattle that grazed on a contaminated field.
Furthermore, PFAS substances have already been found in 65 Danish water wells, as of late September. In the future, 145 places in Denmark will be examined for the toxic substances that are especially dangerous for unborn children and infants.
According to Philippe Grandjean, professor of environmental medicine at the University of Southern Denmark and adjunct professor at Harvard University, this can have serious consequences for the nation's posterity, if the poisoned groundwater is heading towards drinking wells.

“It's outrageous. It's actually a bomb under the future drinking water,” Grandjean told TV2. “The groundwater we have today is also the groundwater that the next generation must benefit from, and therefore it is important to protect it from pollution,” he explained.

Each year since 2016, the Property Agency under the Ministry of Defence has through extensive investigations followed how the Armed Forces' pollution spread to rivers, streams, lakes, and groundwater and nature. But even though the Property Agency in 2019 itself recommended to start cleaning up the pollution, due to the risk of injunctions and compensation cases from citizens, nothing has happened so far, TV reported.
The Armed Forces emphasised that remedial measures are “challenged” by the “costly” procedures that involves removing the contaminated soil, sucking up the contaminated water and destroying it under temperatures of above 1,000 degrees to remove the harmful chemicals.
Lisbeth Knudsen called the recent cases an “eye-opener”.

“This kind of pollution has become a condition of our everyday lives, and as an individual there is not much you can do,” she concluded.

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