VICTORVILLE -- Sixty-two pairs of baby shoes sat on piles of broken glass Sunday at the George Air Force Base former hospital as part of a protest against the Air Force.
The shoes were left by a small group -- the Military Accountability and Transparency Alliance, or MAATA -- in memory of children lost due to miscarriages and stillbirths. The group says women at the base were exposed to toxic chemicals and as a result, their pregnancies failed.
Lisa McCrea, of Barberton, Ohio, returned to the hospital where she lost a baby in 1988. Even today, she clearly remembers being carried through the entry by her husband.
"It was extremely emotional returning here" said McCrea, who is the leader of MAATA. "We have the issue of all the losses but the contamination as well. Yet it's the betrayal -- we trusted them we thought they had our best interests at heart."
The 8 a.m. memorial service included a "silent protest" of what the group says is Air Force's lack of a response to the contamination.
MAATA has about 1,600 members who served or lived on George AFB -- which closed in 1991 -- and believe they were exposed to toxic chemicals or radiation, and as a result, are plagued with health problems.
MAATA filed an administrative claim last month against the federal government, which serves as notification of their intent to sue.
MAATA says the military branch "has yet to respond to these very serious issues concerning Veterans and family members of the base."
"They shattered our lives like the glass here on the ground," McCrea said.
The fighter jet base was declared a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1990.
According to a previous report, the agency has identified more than 30 contaminants of concern at the site that "pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment," and are present in the soil, solid waste and groundwater.
They include a 600-acre plume of trichloroethylene and about two million gallons of disposed jet fuel in an area turned over to state oversight in 2005.
So far, $172 million has been spent with an estimated $62.2 million still needed to achieve cleanup of all the sites by 2077.
This article is written by James Quigg from Daily Press, Victorville, Calif. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.