The Oregon Military Department is seeking $21.6 million from the federal government to remove toxic lead residue from National Guard Bureau armories around the state. Over 400 armories across the country have been deemed to have unsafe level of lead particles.
The Oregonian reported Wednesday that the money would focus on cleaning armories in the state of Oregon. Portland, Ashland, Backer City, Bend, Coos Bay, Eugene, McMinnville, Ontario, Pendleton and Salem will be the first armories to have the contaminants removed.
The request to the National Guard Bureau comes after an 18-month investigation by The Oregonian that revealed widespread lead dust problems in armories nationwide. Concerns about how the high-levels of lead may be effecting the health of community groups and soldiers that use the facilities spurred action to be taken.
The 2016 investigation showed that state military leaders attempted to cover up how long they knew about the problem and also attempted to downplay the severity of the contamination. The Oregon military has recently increased disclosure about its toxic armories.
In December, the National Guard Bureau, which is responsible for overseeing state units, announced that it would pay for armory cleanups. It is the first time the Bureau has made such a commitment.