Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Burn, Baby! Burn

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

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Lawsuits, Safety and Security Issues, Toxic | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blind Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal vet makes splash in Paralympics

Pilot Online  Washington Post  September 4, 2012

“Where is he?” said Brian Loeffler, looking down the empty lane of a 50-meter pool at 7 in the morning.

To his right, a masters practice was finishing up. In front of him, early risers were doing laps. He didn’t seem overly concerned that his star swimmer had disappeared.

“There he is,” the coach said, and called to a man at the far end of the pool. “Brad, you’re two lanes over.”

As the swimmer moved along the wall at the shallow end back to the correct lane, Loeffler explained that his charge sometimes submarines under the lane line when sprinting the breaststroke. It wouldn’t happen if he weren’t pushing himself in the final weeks before the Paralympic Games in London.

And also if he weren’t blind.

Bradley Snyder is midway through a seven-event schedule at the Paralympic Games, which end Sept. 9. He won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle Friday and a silver in the 50-meter freestyle Saturday. A former captain of the U.S. Naval Academy’s swim team, Snyder never imagined he would be in this meet. Nevertheless, it marks his return to a sport that once helped define who he was, before bad luck changed everything.

In Afghanistan a year ago, Snyder, a Navy lieutenant, was working with the Virginia Beach-based Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 12 when he stepped on a homemade land mine. His face took the brunt of the blast. He now has two glass eyes.

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Bomb Disposal, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Improvised Explosive Devices | , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Vehicle Is Rammed by a Bomber in Pakistan

International Herald Tribune  September 4, 2012

Two Americans and two Pakistani employees of the consulate were among the injured, and a charred U.S. passport was found inside the vehicle.

The Peshawar consulate has at least 11 American staffers, according to State Department records, along with a number of local employees.

The New York Times  September 3, 2012

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a sport utility vehicle belonging to the United States Consulate in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Monday morning, Pakistani and American officials said, in one of the most brazen attacks against Americans in the country in recent years.

There were conflicting reports about the number and nationality of the casualties. Pakistani officials said that at least two people were killed by the blast and at least 13 were injured, including two police officers. The United States Embassy in Islamabad confirmed the attack and said in a statement that two Americans and two Pakistani employees of the consulate were injured. It denied early reports that an American had been killed.

A senior Pakistani government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that an American backup vehicle immediately retrieved the four who were wounded inside the S.U.V. and took them to the consulate. The official said two Pakistanis were killed outside the vehicle.

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Pakistan, Safety and Security Issues, State Department | , , , | Leave a comment