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Archive for the ‘Burn Pits’ Category

Mystery lung illness affecting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 27, 2012

Due to the large number of contractors contacting us about Lung problems after working in Iraq and Afghanistan we’ll be investigating and posting all information we can find on this topic.  Please forward any information you may have to dbacasualty@yahoo.com.

Channel 4 News from August 2011

US soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with an apparently untreatable and incurable lung disease are being dismissed as out of shape because tests appear normal, writes Sarah Jones.

A civilian physician who has diagnosed more than 50 soldiers with constrictive bronchiolitis says the life-altering disease is linked to service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dr Robert Miller, of Vanderbilt University, says: “This scarring of the small airways in the lungs is common in people who have had bone marrow transplants or lung transplant rejection not people who have passed military fitness exams.

I get shortness of breath and painful burning in my lungs after running just a quarter of a mile, I can’t run any more Dr Sylvia Waters

“What we can say is that this disorder is linked to service in the Middle East. But we haven’t been able to definitively link what the cause is for the black lacy pigment. It’s something that’s inhaled that shouldn’t be there.”

Last month the New England Journal of Medicine published a study by Dr Miller and colleagues which documented the condition of soldiers who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and were diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis.

However, their analysis doesn’t reveal how common the condition is in troops or positively identify the cause of constrictive bronchiolitis in troops.

‘Black lacy pigmentation’

The diagnoses were made after lung biopsies. At least half the soldiers have left the service with a disability rating making them eligible to receive anywhere between $123 to over $3,100 per month depending on the level of their disability and number of dependents.

In certain instances the Department of Veterans Affairs recognises a link between the disorder and service. But compensation is based on pulmonary function testing (PFT) and soldiers with constrictive bronchiolitis have normal PFT results despite having scarring of the airways, black lacy pigment in their lungs and severe exercise limitations.

A further complication is that deployed troops do not receive pre- and post-deployment pulmonary function tests that could help doctors know the extent of lung damage.

Dr Sylvia Waters serves in the US army and is a practicing anaesthetist. She used to run every day but after serving in Iraq she had to give up her passion.

“After a six-month tour in Mosul, Iraq I get shortness of breath and an excruciating burning in my lungs after running just a quarter of a mile. I can’t run any more.”

Army physicians tried routine tests including X-rays, pulmonary function tests and chest CT scans. They tried inhalers and steroid treatments but nothing worked and all tests results kept coming back normal.

At times, Dr Waters says she doubted herself: “I felt like I was going crazy because all these physicians kept telling me everything was coming back negative.

“It was only the fact that I was a physician and I knew other doctors that I even got diagnosed because I don’t know how else I would have done it.”

Please read the entire story here

 

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Iraq, Toxic Exposures, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Burn Pits Claims

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 4, 2012

Breathing dust, fumes and other and other toxic substances, exposed troops deployed overseas, and those who worked for government contractors abroad and other civilians, to a serious hazards. Some of the chemicals were very toxic carcinogens and are deadly.

At US Senate hearings it was revealed that the toxic carcinogen, Sodium Dichromate (CAS 10588-01-9), was spread across a ruined water-injection facility in Qarmat Ali, Iraq, when the soldiers were there in the spring and summer of 2003. Thousands of individuals may have been exposed.

A simple evaluation may assist in assessing your exposure and disease which includes: a history which characterized the exposure and preexisting medical conditions of each individual exposed; a physical exam that identified any findings potentially related to a chromium exposure, and medical tests including blood, urine, chest X-ray, and a breathing test (called a pulmonary function test).

An exposure to this chemical may produce:

  • Chronic health effects
  • Lung and throat cancer
  • Blisters and deep ulcers
  • Damage to the septum
  • Skin allergy
  • Asthma-like allergy
  • Kidney damage.

As a supporter for the improved health and welfare of individuals against hazardous occupational and environmental exposures, Jon L. Gelman advocates for changes in safety standards and safer use of chemicals. If you have been exposed to burn pit dust, smoke or fumes or Sodium Dichromate, contact Jon Gelman via e-mail or call +1 973-696-7900.

Please see the list of known Burn Pit locations here

Posted in Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Department of Labor, Iraq, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Toxic Exposures, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Burn, Baby !, Burn !

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 4, 2012

Remember when rioters in Watts, Calif., began shouting “Burn, Baby! BURN!” in the turmoil of 1965? I’m sure they didn’t have the following future in mind.

That would be the various lawsuits against KBR for operating burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we should all be paying attention to this and not just for the human toll it has taken on soldiers and contractors. It also says something disturbing about the ability of the federal government to exercise proper control over its private contractors.

by David Isenberg at Huffington Post  September 4, 2012

An article, “Military Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan: Considerations and Obstacles for Emerging Litigation” by Kate Donovan Kurera, in the Fall 2010 issue of the Pace Environmental Law Review provides the necessary insight.

For those who haven’t been paying attention the last four years the background goes thusly:

Burn pits have been relied on heavily as a waste disposal method at military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of United States military presence in these countries in 2001 and 2003, respectively. Little attention was paid to the pits in Iraq and Afghanistan until Joshua Eller, a computer technician deployed in Iraq, filed suit in 2008 against KBR for negligently exposing thousands of soldiers, former KBR employees, and civilians to unsafe conditions due to “faulty waste disposal systems.” Eller and a group of more than two hundred plaintiffs returning from their tours of duty, attribute chronic illnesses, disease, and even death to exposure to thick black and green toxic burn pit smoke that descended into their living quarters and interfered with military operations.

The plaintiffs assert that they witnessed batteries, plastics, biohazard materials, solvents, asbestos, chemical and medical wastes, items doused with diesel fuel, and even human remains being dumped into open burn pits. Defense Department officials say this waste stream contained items now prohibited pursuant to revised guidelines. Plaintiffs contend that KBR breached these contracts by negligently operating burn pits.

As of August 2010 there were an estimated two hundred and fifty one burns pits operating in Afghanistan and twenty two in Iraq. The most attention has focused on the burn pit operating at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, which was suspected of burning two hundred and forty tons of waste a day at peak operation

While the health impact of the pits is what the media focuses on, Kurera sees even more important legal issues: She writes:  Please read the entire article here

Posted in ACE, Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Burn Pits, Cancer, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Exclusive Remedy, Iraq, KBR, Misjudgements, Political Watch, Toxic Exposures, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Burn Pit Lung Condition Added to Social Security List of Compassionate Allowances

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 12, 2012

Jon Gelmans Workers Compensation Blog  August 11, 2012

The Social Security Administration has added to its list of compassionate allowances a pulmonary condition that has been identified as arising out of exposures to burn pits fumes and dusts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The pulmonary disease, constrictive bronchiolitis, is also called obliterative bronchiolitis or bronchiolitis obliterates. Medical research has been identified the medical condition as being causally related to exposures to dust and fumes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Compassionate Allowances (CAL) are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate Allowances allow Social Security to target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that we can obtain quickly. Compassionate Allowances is not a separate program from the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs.”

Click here to read more about burn pit claims for benefits and lawsuits.
Click here to request further information

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Department of Labor, Iraq, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Toxic Exposures, Veterans, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 22, 2012

Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room

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.

The unclassified memo (.jpg), dated April 15, 2011, stated that high concentrations of dust and burned waste present at Bagram Airfield for most of the war are likely to impact veterans’ health for the rest of their lives. “The long term health risk” from breathing in Bagram’s particulate-rich air include “reduced lung function or exacerbated chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, atherosclerosis, or other cardiopulmonary diseases.” Service members may not necessarily “acquire adverse long term pulmonary or heart conditions,” but “the risk for such is increased.”

The cause of the health hazards are given the anodyne names Particulate Matter 10 and Particulate Matter 2.5, a reference to the size in micrometers of the particles’ diameter. Service personnel deployed to Bagram know them by more colloquial names: dust, trash and even feces — all of which are incinerated in “a burn pit” on the base, the memo says, as has been standard practice in Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade.

Accordingly, the health risks were not limited to troops serving at Bagram in 2011, the memo states. The health hazards are an assessment of “air samples taken over approximately the last eight years” at the base.

Please see the original and read the entire article here

Posted in Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Physical Illness and PTSD appear to be linked

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 30, 2011

 “Mental and physical health are integrally linked,” Bromet said in a statement. “It is not always obvious which one is the driver, but, in the end, what matters is that both mental and physical health are recognized and treated with equal care and respect.”
Kristina Fiore Medpage Today and ABC News  December 29, 2011

Among responders to the World Trade Center disaster, there appears to be a relationship between respiratory problems and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), researchers found. In a statistical model, PTSD mediated the association between exposure at the site and respiratory symptoms among both police officers and other types of responders, Evelyn Bromet, PhD, of Stony Brook University in New York, and colleagues reported online in Psychological Medicine. The results suggest “an indirect association of exposure with respiratory symptoms through PTSD, a finding that mirrors research conducted with Vietnam veterans,” the researchers wrote.

“Mental and physical health are integrally linked,” Bromet said in a statement. “It is not always obvious which one is the driver, but, in the end, what matters is that both mental and physical health are recognized and treated with equal care and respect.”

Respiratory illness and PTSD are both signature health problems among rescue workers who responded to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, but the relationship between the two conditions isn’t clear.

So Bromet and her colleagues assessed 8,508 police officers and 12,333 other types of responders who were evaluated at the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program between July 16, 2002, and Sept. 11, 2008.

They used structural equation modeling (SEM) to explore patterns of association between exposures and other risk factors.

Overall, fewer police than other responders had probable PTSD (5.9% versus 23%) and respiratory symptoms (22.5% versus 28.4%), although pulmonary function was similar between the two groups.

They found that PTSD and respiratory symptoms were moderately correlated for both groups (r=0.28 for police and 0.27 for other responders).

Exposure was more strongly associated with respiratory symptoms (r=0.14 to 0.24), and showed less of an association with probable PTSD (r=0.07 to 0.12). Exposure was only weakly associated with lung function, they reported.

Regarding the SEM models, Bromet and colleagues found that those in which the association between exposure and respiratory problems were mediated in part by PTSD showed a “better absolute fit” in both groups of responders, leading them to conclude that the association between exposure and respiratory symptoms may be mediated through PTSD.

It may be that PTSD, which is associated with immunologic function, can increase pulmonary inflammation, resulting in respiratory abnormalities, or the cognitive processes associated with the condition can increase the perception of respiratory symptoms, they wrote.

On the other hand, chronic respiratory symptoms could serve as reminders of traumatic events and increase PTSD rates, they wrote.

Further longitudinal studies are needed to disentangle the possibilities, they said

Please read the entire article at Medpage

Posted in Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act Insurance, Injured Contractors, PTSD and TBI, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Toxic Tour

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 31, 2011

Theresa Campbell Daily Commercial  August 31, 2011

Jill Wilkins’ husband never mentioned the thick, black smoke that smoldered from toxic burn pits in Iraq.

It wasn’t until Kevin was dying from a brain tumor when a doctor questioned the Air Force Reserve nurse about his military service.

“Kevin, when you were over there were you exposed to anything?”

“Oh, yeah, all kinds of stuff,” he replied.

Those words stunned the Eustis wife and mother of two. Jill also learned through research that burn pits were being used in place of incinerators in Iraq and Afghanistan, where garbage, lithium batteries, tires, water bottles, human waste, metal, aluminum, hydraulic fluids, medical supplies and old medicines were doused with jet fuel and would burn 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Kevin had walked through the smoke daily, without a mask, while working at a clinic at Balad Air Base in Iraq during the summer of 2006. A second tour followed in 2007 in Qatar.

“I’m sure that even as he was exposed to it, in the back of his mind he wasn’t thinking that it could do something to him,” Jill said.

The U.S. government recently acknowledged the harmful effects of burn pits. In a report released last year by the United States Government Accountability Office, “burn pits help base commanders manage waste, but also produces smoke and harmful emissions that military and other health professionals believe may result in acute and chronic health effects to those exposed.”

The burn pit at Balad reportedly burned 250 tons of waste a day, exposing about 25,000 U.S, military personnel and thousands of contractors to the toxins.

It was shut down in 2009, however as of last year, 22 other burn pits were still in operation

Please read the entire story here

Posted in Burn Pits, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Senators Press for Burn Pit Updates from the Military

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 18, 2011

TAMPA BAY ONLINE  May 18, 2011

Armed with a new study showing military personnel deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq are eight times more likely to suffer respiratory problems than those who are not, two senators are asking the Department of Defense to provide an immediate update on what is being done about the problem of burn pits, which have operated in both countries.

Armed with a new study showing military personnel deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq are eight times more likely to suffer respiratory problems than those who are not, two senators are asking the Department of Defense to provide an immediate update on what is being done about the problem of burn pits, which have operated in both countries.

Democrats Bill Nelson of Florida and Charles Schumer of New York got involved with the issue after the December death of retired Army Sgt. Bill McKenna, who was born in New York but lived in Spring Hill.

McKenna, 41, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, died at HPH Hospice, of Spring Hill, from cancer he contracted after constant exposure to the thick smoke that wafted almost every hour of every day across Balad Air Base in Iraq, where McKenna was stationed about 18 months.

In bases across Afghanistan, amputated body parts, Humvee parts, human waste, plastic meal trays and other garbage are incinerated using jet fuel in large trenches called burn pits. The military halted the practice in Iraq last year.

Please read the entire story here

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Burn Pits, Department of Defense, Exclusive Remedy, KBR, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Private Military Contract Facilities to Be Inspected

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 22, 2011

Courthouse News

WASHINGTON (CN) – Defense Department facilities, infrastructure and equipment provided by private military contractors such as KBR, DynCorp, and Fluor Corporation, overseas, are to be inspected for safety and habitability, under rules adopted under the National Defense Authorization Act.
According to the rules, prior to use, the facilities should be “brought into compliance with generally accepted standards for the safety and health of personnel to the maximum extent practicable consistent with the requirements of military operations and the best interests of the agency.”
Contracts will require compliance with the Unified Facilities Criteria 1-200-01 to meet generally accepted standards for fire protection, structural integrity, electrical systems, plumbing, water treatment, waste disposal, and telecommunications networks.
The rules apply to each contract, including task or delivery orders, entered into for the construction, installation, repair, maintenance, or operation of facilities, infrastructure, and equipment for use by Defense Department military or civilian personnel.
The rules were effective in 2010, in temporary form, and have now been adopted permanently.

Please see the original and document here

Posted in Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Dyncorp, KBR, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sgt Bill McKenna dies from Burn Pit Exposure

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 29, 2010

Earlier this year, after a News Channel 8-Tribune investigation, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs ruled McKenna’s cancer was directly related to the burn pits and awarded him 100 percent service-connected disability.

Soldier dies from exposure to burn pit fires

Sgt Bill McKenna Obituary and Guestbook

Army sergeant’s widow wants military to pay burial expenses

by Howard Altman at The Tampa Tribune

If Army Sgt. Bill McKenna had died in Iraq during his two tours of duty, his widow would have had no trouble fulfilling the Spring Hill resident’s wish to be buried in New York, where the couple were born and met.

The U.S. military offers a $100,000 tax-free death gratuity to meet the immediate needs of survivors and up to an additional $8,800 in burial benefits.

But McKenna was not killed by the enemy. And he did not die in Iraq.

The 41-year-old died at 10:50 p.m. Tuesday at the HPH Hospice in Spring Hill as the result of cancer he contracted from constant exposure to the thick, acrid smoke that wafted almost every hour of every day across Balad Air Base in Iraq, where McKenna was stationed for about 18 months.

In bases across Afghanistan and Iraq, amputated body parts, Humvee parts, human waste, plastic meal trays and other garbage are incinerated, using jet fuel, in large trenches called burn pits.

Earlier this year, after a News Channel 8-Tribune investigation, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs ruled McKenna’s cancer was directly related to the burn pits and awarded him 100 percent service-connected disability.

But because he died after he was discharged from the Army as the result of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder he suffered after a mortar blast blew his helmet off, Dina McKenna will not get the military’s active-duty death benefits. Instead, she is entitled only to $2,000 allocated for the burial of veterans.

Please read the entire story here

Posted in Burn Pits, Iraq, PTSD and TBI, Toxic Exposures, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , | 25 Comments »

Military using potentially harmful methods of burning trash

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 15, 2010

Washington (CNN) Military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to use waste methods that expose troops to potentially toxic emissions without fully understanding the effects, according to a new government audit obtained by CNN.

Between September 2009 and October 2010, investigators from the Government Accountability Office visited four bases in Iraq and reviewed planning documents on waste disposal for bases in Afghanistan. None of the Iraq bases visited were in compliance with military regulations. All four burned plastic — which generates harmful emissions — despite regulations against doing so.

The emissions have been the source of controversy as troops have complained about a host of problems, from cancerous tumors to respiratory issues, blaming exposure to burn pits. Military officials have denied any consequential effects on most troops.

The military, the report concluded, has been slow in using alternatives and has not considered the long-term costs of dealing with subsequent health issues.

The report is expected to be released later Friday.

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Cancer, Iraq | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

S.C. veterans and contractors can proceed with lawsuit over Iraq, Afghanistan burn-pits

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 4, 2010

Alex Harley of Goose Creek was exposed to burn pits while serving as a defense contractor in Iraq and now is part of a class-action lawsuit.

More than a dozen South Carolina veterans and defense contractors who allege their exposure to noxious fumes from burning waste dumps in Iraq and Afghanistan led to grievous health issues may proceed with their class-action lawsuit, a U.S. District judge ruled recently.

The suit, filed in South Carolina in June 2009, is among 43 suits across the country that allege fumes from “burn pits” caused cancer, respiratory problems and other illnesses.

Alex Harley of Goose Creek is among the Palmetto State’s plaintiffs.

The 34-year-old father had a clean bill of health before leaving for work as a contractor in Iraq in 2006. Harley was exposed to what he called the “indescribably horrific” fumes during the course of his work and returned to the U.S. with myriad health problems.

“They check you out completely before they send you over there,” he said. “I was completely healthy before I went. Now, I can’t work. I can’t fish. I can’t play backyard football. I can’t do any of the things I used to do.”

Plaintiffs in the 43 cases say Texas-based defense contractors ignored the terms of their government contracts requiring them to safely dispose of waste, and instead burned everything from tires to human body parts in massive pits.

The Houston contractors, KBR Inc. and Halliburton Co., who received billions of dollars from the federal government, deny the allegations and involvement.  Please read the entire story here

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Injured Contractors, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors, Iraq, KBR, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Burn Pits Claims Against KBR and Halliburton can Continue

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 9, 2010

To paraphrase Yogi Berra it’s déjà vu all over again for KBR.

By David Isenberg at Huff Post

In my Aug. 31 post I wrote about a significant pro-veteran ruling in the Oregon KBR Qarmat Ali litigation. This is the case where Oregon National Guard troops allege KBR’s liability for negligence and for fraud arising out of plaintiffs’ exposure to sodium dichromate and resultanthexavalent chromium poisoning while assigned to duty at the Qarmat Ali water plant in 2003.

Paul Papak, the federal district judge rejected the motion by KBR and co-defendants to dismiss the suit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and rejected it.

I noted that the end result was that the “we were just following orders” defense is looking even lamer than ever.

Now it turns out another judge, ruling on another KBR issue, its running of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, has ruled the same way. 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.

Today federal court judge Roger W. Titus ordered that claims against military contractors, KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) and Halliburton, may proceed.

In his 41-page opinion Judge Titus dismissed the jurisdictions of the defendants and is allowing limited discovery to go forward. 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.”

Please read the entire post here

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Injured Contractors, Iraq, KBR | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cloud of Smoke Could Put Soldiers’ Lives at Risk

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 27, 2010

Hundreds of Soldiers Say They Inhaled Toxic Smoke from Pits Where Military Burns Equipment, Medical Supplies, Hazardous Waste as were the Contractors

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.

This week, the American Lung Association issued a strong recommendation for the military to discontinue the use of open-air trash burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan because they are a dangerous health risk. Hundreds of soldiers who’ve been exposed to the burn pits say inhaling the toxic smoke has inflicted them with severe breathing problems and even cancer.

Michele Pearce is a fighter. She battled stomach cancer in 2008. Then doctors discovered another tumor in her lung.

“I literally just said, ‘Wow I could die,'” Pearce said.

Pearce – now in remission – was deployed to Iraq in 2006. She believes her cancer is connected to the months she spent inhaling smoke from base burn pits.

Christopher Sweet blames his wife’s leukemia on the burn pits she was exposed to in Afghanistan. Diagnosed in September 2008, Jessica Sweet died five months later.

“I don’t know that it gets easier,” said Sweet. “4:08. That’s the time that’s ingrained in my brain when you hear ‘Time of death, 4:08,’ and that’s your wife.”

The military authorized more than a hundred burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The largest were operated by private contractors Halliburton and KBR, designed to burn everything from military equipment to medical supplies, batteries and hazardous waste.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Dr. Robert Miller of is treating more than a dozen soldiers exposed to burn-pit smoke.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the burn pits emit toxins,” said Miller. “It’s a solid waste burning. It’s a practice that’s essentially outlawed in the United States.”

Sweet, Pearce and nearly 400 military personnel are part of a class-action lawsuit against KBR, accusing the company of negligence and illegally burning waste.

Last November, former KBR employee Rick Lamberth told senators he’d witnessed operators improperly throwing hazardous waste into burn pits.

“I was told to shut up and keep that to myself,” Lamberth said.

KBR turned down CBS News’ request for an interview but said in a statement that “the military, not KBR, decides what method of waste disposal will be used … what items can be disposed .. and it complied with all military directives.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., pushed legislation to force the military to shut down many burn pits, but 40, including 11 KBR pits, are still in operation.

“I do not want to see these burn pits become the Agent Orange of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,” Bishop said.

Despite a 2006 leaked internal Pentagon memo warning of chronic health concerns, the military maintains it needs time to study the smoke exposure effects.

Pearce said she just wants answers.

“What did these companies do to put my life at risk?” Pearce asked.

Sweet believes the bottom line is his wife’s death should have been prevented.

“If she wasn’t exposed to the burn pits, I believe she’d be here today, absolutely,” Sweet said.

With most of the soldiers unable to serve, the Department of Veterans Affairs has issued guidelines to doctors and has launched a study to evaluate the long-term health effects from exposure to the burn pits.

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Iraq, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

America leaves Iraq a toxic legacy of dumped hazardous materials

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 14, 2010

Times Online Oliver August

NY Daily News

American troops going home from Iraq after seven painful years are leaving behind a legacy that is literally toxic.

An investigation by The Times in five Iraqi provinces has found that hazardous material from US bases is being dumped locally rather than sent back to America, in clear breach of Pentagon rules.

North and west of Baghdad, engine oil is leaking from 55-gallon drums into dusty ground, open acid canisters sit within easy reach of children, and discarded batteries lie close to irrigated farmland. A 2009 Pentagon document shown to The Times by a private contractor working with US soldiers mentions “an estimated 11 million pounds [5,000 tonnes] of hazardous waste” produced by American troops.

But even this figure appears to be only a partial estimate. BrigadierGeneral Kendall Cox, who is responsible for engineering and infrastructure in Iraq, told The Times yesterday that he was in the process of disposing of 14,500 tonnes of oil and soil contaminated with oil. “This has accumulated over seven years,” he said.

Iraqis who have come into contact with some of the material suffer from rashes and blistering on their hands and feet. They also complain of gagging and coughing. Rats near sites where waste was dumped have died and lie next to soiled containers.

Abu Saif, a Fallujah scrap dealer who handles US military surplus, lifted up his trouser legs and raised his hands to show blistered skin. “I got this when I worked on what was supposed to be American scrap metal,” he said. “I checked with a doctor and he said these are the effects of dangerous chemicals.”  Read the entire story here

Posted in Burn Pits, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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