It shouldn’t startle anyone to find that the Pentagon has blatantly ignored a congressional mandate to start reducing its use of burn pits at U.S. bases overseas.
It was only a year ago that Pentagon officials openly doubted that the black hellfire released from tons of burning hazardous waste in the open air could possibly have any long-term health effects on anyone unlucky enough to be breathing it in everyday.
“When we look at respiratory effects on a population-wide basis,” said Dr. Craig Postlewaite, director of DoD’s force readiness and health assurance, in an interview last September, “we’re not seeing a cause for concern.” The DoD’s official view has so far not changed. So, even as more and more service members come home sick – some of them irreparably, terminally – it would seem the Department of Defense has gone into classic default mode: stall until it becomes impossible to stall any longer.
That may buy the DoD ten years at least, and by then it’ll be the Veterans Administration’s problem.
“They hold with the lie until they are caught so red handed they just can’t lie about it any longer,” says Deb Crawford, who spent time as a civilian electrician in the Green Zone from 2004 to 2006. She now publishes Ms. Sparky.com, a popular watchdog site, and recently spoke with Antiwar.com. “If anyone in the Pentagon were to claim they didn’t think the burn pits were an inherent health hazard to civilians and troops, I would have to call them a bold face liar.” Read the remainder of this entry »
October 15, 2010 – As this is something I have written on previously it seems appropriate to note that today the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report on open-air burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq.
U.S. forces generate a lot of waste. According to the GAO U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq generate about 10 pounds of waste per servicemember each day. This waste may consist of plastic, styrofoam, and food from dining facilities; discarded electronics; shipping materials such as wooden pallets and plastic wrap; appliances; and other items such as mattresses, clothing, tires, metal containers, and furniture.
Assuming 50,000 troops in Iraq that is half a million pounds of waste a day. In Afghanistan it is nearly a million pounds a day. That doesn’t count waste produced by contractors or other DOD components. It also doesn’t include hazardous or medical waste. No matter how you look at it that is one heck of a log of garbage to burn.
Lawsuits have been filed in federal court in at least 43 states in which current and former service members have alleged, among other things, that a contractor’s negligent management of burn pit operations, contrary to applicable contract provisions, exposed them to air pollutants that subsequently caused serious health problems.
The contractor, KBR, has moved to dismiss the suits, arguing, among other things, that it cannot be held liable for any injuries that may have occurred to service personnel because its burn pit activities occurred at the direction of the military.
A Federal Court Judge has ordered that claims against military contractors, KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) and Halliburton, may proceed. Sick soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan filed claims against the corporations because of “alleged failures of the military contractors to treat water and dispose of waste in a manner required” by their contract with the US Military.
Judge Roger W. Titus, in his 41 page opinion, dismissed the jurisdictions of the defendants and is allowing limited discovery to go forward. He also invited the participation of the US Government as an “amicus curiae, “friend of the Court,” in formulating the discovery plan.
A lawsuit is currently pending against Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) and Halliburton on behalf of soldiers who were exposed to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The corporations were awarded US logistical contracts to support military in the war theaters.
In its ruling the Court stated, “In tension with the exercise of caution supported by these legal defenses is the legitimate concern that the judiciary may prematurely close courtroom doors to soldiers and civilians injured from wartime logistical activities performed by hired hands allegedly acting contrary to military-defined strictures. Courts must be prepared to adjudicate cases that ultimately expose defense contractors to appropriate liability where it is demonstrated that they acted outside the parameters established by the military and, as a result, failed to exercise proper care in minimizing risk to service members and civilians.”
Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have report illnesses, including: cancers, respiratory disease, skin disorders and cancer following there tours of duty. Six deaths have been reported from early onset of leukemia and many more under treatment for malignancies. (click HERE for original article)
Here are some other great articles on this victory!
Michele Pearce of McLean, an Air Force lieutenant colonel, says she joined the suit to find out if her cancers are related to open-air burning.
By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 6, 2010
Hundreds of military service members and contractor employees have fallen ill with cancer or severe breathing problems after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they say they were poisoned by thick, black smoke produced by the burning of tons of trash generated on U.S. bases.
In a lawsuit in federal court in Maryland, 241 people from 42 states are suing Houston-based contractor Kellogg Brown & Root, which has operated more than two dozen so-called burn pits in the two countries. The burn pits were used to dispose of plastic water bottles, Styrofoam food containers, mangled bits of metal, paint, solvent, medical waste, even dead animals. The garbage was tossed in, doused with fuel and set on fire.
The military personnel and civilian workers say they inhaled a toxic haze from the pits that caused severe illnesses. Six with leukemia have died, and five are being treated for the disease, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. At night, more than a dozen rely on machines to help them breathe or to monitor their breathing; others use inhalers. Read the remainder of this entry »
(CBS) Two soldiers were killed by roadside bombs Saturday in Afghanistan, bringing the death toll to 52 in June, the worst month of the nine-year war so far for the United States.
When soldiers go into war zones, they expect certain hazards on the battlefield but not necessarily on base, yet that’s where hundreds of soldiers say they were exposed to toxic fumes, CBS News Correspondent Jeff Glor reports. Read the remainder of this entry »