By MARTHA MENDOZA, JULIET LINDERMAN and JASON DEAREN
February 23, 2022 GMT
FORT ORD NATIONAL MONUMENT, Calif. (AP) — For nearly 80 years, recruits reporting to central California’s Fort Ord considered themselves the lucky ones, privileged to live and work amid sparkling seas, sandy dunes and sage-covered hills.
But there was an underside, the dirty work of soldiering. Recruits tossed live grenades into the canyons of “Mortar Alley,” sprayed soapy chemicals on burn pits of scrap metal and solvents, poured toxic substances down drains and into leaky tanks they buried underground.
When it rained, poisons percolated into aquifers from which they drew drinking water.
Through the years, soldiers and civilians who lived at the U.S. Army base didn’t question whether their tap water was safe to drink.
But in 1990, four years before it began the process of closing as an active military…
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