Le Zone Rouge

A century after the war, an interesting example of how Twitter can be a useful medium for a photoessay.

5 thoughts on “Le Zone Rouge”

  1. It’s truly astonishing how much Nature can correct. I started my career at Norton AFB in California, back in 1980. It was a very busy Military Airlift base, and home to the Air Force Ballistic Missiles Office, along with (to almost no one’s knowledge) the SR-71 Special Project Office. There were probably many black SPOs in that building. Its role as the lead logistics base to the Pacific (including Korea and Vietnam) had left it swimming in leaded avgas, solvent, and lubricating oil waste. It was also home to the Air Force Combat Camera Command, which did all of the ground and air photography for the USAF. The ground around the AFCCC building was saturated with cyanide, and other wastes from photographic processing.

    In 1993, the base was closed in a ceremony where I (hesitantly) shook hands with then President Bill Clinton. Because of the huge amount of toxic waste spilled there (it was also a nuclear weapon depot, so I don’t know what that involved), it was designated a Superfund Site. Eventually, it became the nation’s biggest Superfund Site, at least to that time. But a curious thing also happened. Within two months after closure, the entire base looked as if it had been abandoned 20 years earlier. Weeds grew up through every available pathway in sidewalks, parking lots, and streets. Plants penetrated everything, including the abandoned base housing, theater, O Club, and NCO Club. I had my first company’s headquarters on that base (the company is still there), and it was always remarkably depressing – even after other tenants tried to restore things.

    Nature recaptures everything with remarkable rapidity. Look at Chernobyl…

  2. Mount St. Helens Recovery…. Mankind’s works versus that, :heh: no comparison.
    Still, there are reports from time to time of Belgian farmers “discovering” unexploded poison gas shells from WW1 or Libyan herders triggering WW2 mines.

    1. My first trip to Mount St. Helens was back in 1989. Nine years later and the devestation was still astounding. Coming in on the road from the east I rounded a bend in the narrow hillside road and found that there was nothing left standing for anything that directly faced the volcano still about 5 miles distant. I have some amazing photos. Had the Doors “The End” playing the whole time.

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