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Leaked Memo: Afghan ‘Burn Pit’ Could Wreck Troops’ Hearts, Lungs

A bulldozer dumps a load of trash into a burn pit just 300 yards from the runway at Bagram Airfield, January 2012. An Army memo from 2011 found the burn pit is associated with "long-term" health effects on soldiers at Bagram. Photo: U.S. Army

By Spencer Ackerman  @ Wired.com

A bulldozer dumps a load of trash into a burn pit just 300 yards from the runway at Bagram Airfield, January 2012. An Army memo from 2011 found the burn pit is associated with “long-term” health effects on soldiers at Bagram.

For years, U.S. government agencies have told the public, veterans and Congress that they couldn’t draw any connections between the so-called “burn pits” disposing of trash at the military’s biggest bases and veterans’ respiratory or cardiopulmonary problems. But a 2011 Army memo obtained by Danger Room flat-out stated that the burn pit at one of Afghanistan’s largest bases poses “long-term adverse health conditions” to troops breathing the air there. Read the remainder of this entry »

Former Soldier Sues KBR Over Health Concerns

Isiah Carey –  (Fox Houston) –  HOUSTON – A former U.S. soldier has filed a civil lawsuit against a major military contractor claiming the Houston-based company ruined his health and military career.

David Parr, a former service member from Ohio, served in the army in Afghanistan.

Parr says while he was stationed in Afghanistan, he was within breathing distance of the KBR waste disposal operation. He adds that employees of KBR disposed of human corpses, chemicals, old batteries and much more in the burn pits.

The soldier says as a result of his proximity to the operation, he was forced to inhale the fumes from the waste.

In Parr’s lawsuit, he says the smell from the waste burning process was so bad soldiers stationed near the burn pits had to wear inhalers at night to breathe.

The lawsuit alleges because of Parr’s exposure, he and other soldiers developed severe respiratory and other health-related problems.

Parr alleges he had to leave (honorable discharge) the military because he could no longer pass the physical examination in the Army.

Houston attorney Michael Patrick Doyle is representing Parr in this case. (Click HERE for original article)

Toxic Trash: The Burn Pits of Iraq and Afghanistan

Here is an excerpt of an excellent article that was published today (August 24, 2011)

Billy McKenna and Kevin Wilkins survived Iraq—and died at home. The Oxford American sent filmmaker Dave Anderson and journalist J. Malcolm Garcia to Florida to investigate this deadly threat to American soldiers.

“Smoke Signals,” by J. Malcolm Garcia

Published in the Fall 2011 Issue of The Oxford American.

Strange to think about it, the black smoke.

As it turns out, the eventual killer of Billy McKenna was lurking in the photographs he snapped in Iraq. Billy wrote captions beneath some of his photographs: typical day on patrol reads one. The photo is partially obscured by the blurred image of a soldier’s upraised hand. Brown desert unfurls away from a vehicle toward an empty horizon, and a wavering sky scorched white hovers above. Off to one side: Balad Air Base and the spreading umbrella of rising dank smoke from a burn pit.

Billy told his wife, Dina, in e-mails from Iraq that the stench was killing him. The air so dirty it rained mud. He didn’t call them burn pits. She can’t recall what he called them. He didn’t mean killing him literally. Just that the overwhelming odor was god-awful and tearing up his sinuses. He didn’t wear a mask. It would not have been practical. In heat that soared above a hundred degrees, what soldier would wear one?

Dina doesn’t know when she first heard the words “burn pit.” A Veterans Affairs doctor may have said it. The doctors were telling her a lot of things when Billy was on a ventilator. All she could think was, How can he have cancer? He’s indestructible. He’s been to hell and back. He can build houses, race cars, fish, camp. He was an Eagle Scout as a kid. He doesn’t smoke cigarettes.

But Billy had been exposed to something much more harmful than cigarettes. Since 2003, defense contractors have used burn pits at a majority of U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan as a method of destroying military waste. The pits incinerate discarded human body parts, plastics, hazardous medical material, lithium batteries, tires, hydraulic fluids, and vehicles. Jet fuel keeps pits burning twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Read the remainder of this entry »

Fact or Crap: KBR Fact Sheets Revived

As many of you are aware, KBR has a page on their website called KBR Fact Sheets. Until a couple of months ago, the Fact Sheet page listed several of KBR’s high profile cases with links to pages attempting to discredit the victims and tell KBR’s side of the story.

Then all of a sudden no cases and no links to KBR’s pathetic attempts to justify their position in these heinous crimes. I received several emails asking if I had copies of the pages and low and behold……I did, thanks to Google cache!

In light of the upcoming Jamie Leigh Jones trial which starts on June 13, 2011, it appears KBR has revised and republished their attack against Jamie.

As a public service to all of KBR victims, their attorney’s, reporters, investigators, etc I am republishing KBR’s Fact Sheets as they originally appeared on KBR’s website.

Here’s the link to the original KBR Fact Sheet listing available links.

Below are the links to .pdf’s of the original KBR Fact Sheet pages.

Facts About the Anna Mayo Litigation(pdf)

Facts About the Swanita Taylor Litigation(pdf)

Facts About Burn Pit Litigation(pdf)

Discrepancies Regarding the Jones Allegations – original(pdf)

Discrepancies Regarding the Jones Allegations – revised(pdf)

Electrocution Deaths in Iraq(pdf)

Recent Inaccuracies in the Press(pdf)

DHB Review – Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant(pdf)

Troops in Mideast Have More Respiratory Ills, Data Show

SHIRLEY S. WANG – (Wall Street Journel) – May 16, 2011 – Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have a higher rate of debilitating respiratory illness than those deployed elsewhere, according to a new study that bolsters concerns among some medical professionals and members of Congress about the potential harm to troops from toxic chemicals and dust in the Middle East.

Soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan complain of lingering coughs, shortness of breath, dizziness and other symptoms. Now, scientists say troops who served in the Middle East have higher rates of respiratory problems compared to those who served elsewhere. WSJ’s Shirley Wang reports.

The findings, which will be presented Wednesday at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in Denver, place renewed urgency on getting at the root of why some young, previously healthy soldiers have been returning from the Middle East complaining of symptoms including shortness of breath and dizziness. In many cases, the soldiers can no longer pass a required physical to continue with active duty.

Read the remainder of this entry »