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

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

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

August 12, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Health Watch, Iraq, Safety and Security Issues, Toxic, Veterans | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

May 22, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Friendly Fire, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Senators press for burn pit update from military

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.

Thousands of military personnel may have been exposed to the toxic fumes and, across the United States, more than 300 have joined a class-action lawsuit against KBR, the military contractor that operated some of the burn pits at bases in Iraq.

The company is fighting the suit, filed in federal court in Maryland, claiming it operated some pits at the military’s direction; most were operated by the Army.

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

Please read the entire story here

May 18, 2011 Posted by | Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Toxic | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Military using potentially harmful methods of burning trash

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.

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Iraq | , , | Leave a comment

Burn Pit Claims Against KBR and Halliburton can Continue

Strike Two on “Just Following Orders” Defense

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.  Please read the entire post here

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, KBR, Legal Jurisdictions, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ms. Sparky aims at KBR, electrifies war-contractor scrutiny with blog

Debbie Crawford was playing with her grandson at her Battle Ground home two years ago when she heard a news report on a Green Beret who died in Baghdad. The water pump in his Army shower was not properly grounded, and when he turned the faucet, a jolt of electricity killed him.

Crawford cried, her worst professional fear realized. She went to her laptop and began to type:

“As a licensed electrician who worked for KBR in Iraq for two years, I find this UNACCEPTABLE!!!! How did this happen? Let me give you my opinion from first-hand experience….”

Five weeks later, after a Senate staffer saw her post, Crawford testified before Congress to poor management and poor workmanship by Kellogg, Brown & Root in Iraq, including subcontracting electrical work to locals not skilled to U.S. standards and failing to check electricians credentials.

Two years later, the blog she started that 2008 day —mssparky.com – is the largest online catalog of news articles, opinion, leaks and lawsuits regarding war contractors. The site has drawn more than 10.8 million page hits since Jan. 1.

When Oregon veterans of the Iraq war appear in federal court in Portland today in their chemical-exposure lawsuit against KBR, they join a wide group of plaintiffs suing KBR — over electrocutions, burn pits and sexual assault.

Much of what connects them all is Ms. Sparky.

“She’s allowed people to speak that otherwise would be too afraid to do so,” says Todd Kelly, a Houston attorney who represents six clients suing KBR alleging they were sexual assaulted while working in Iraq. “I would characterize her as pretty courageous in her own right, being willing to blog about the things she’s willing to blog about. She has the sense that someone has to speak out.”

Crawford says, “This just took on a life of its own. My blogging is the least interesting part about it .”

Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, the federal government has paid private companies $150 billion to do what the military once did — support daily life for the troops. KBR has been the single largest provider of meals, housing, recreation, mail delivery, laundry and fuel.

KBR maintains there is no evidence that its work caused or contributed to the Green Beret’s electrocution and that its military contract for his building was for on-call repairs, not preventative maintenance and inspections. KBR also denies responsibility for exposing troops or employees to carcinogens at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant, “There was no hazardous exposure and there has been no documented illness related to the facility.”

Today, Magistrate Judge Paul Papak will hear arguments on whether an Oregon Army National Guard veterans’ case against KBR should go forward in U.S. District Court in Oregon. Twenty-six Oregon vets — and soldiers in three other states — have sued, saying they were sickened by hexavalent chromium, a cancer-causing chemical, as they guarded KBR employees working to restore Iraqi oil in 2003.

Crawford has assembled an online library about the suits.

“This wasn’t done so a child could drink safe water. This was done to pump water into wells to get oil flowing. All these soldiers and civilians exposed, for oil.”

To meet Ms. Sparky — the slang for female electrician — drive past Vancouver’s suburban blocks to the hobby farms beneath Mount St. Helen. The 49-year-old wife, grandmother and blogger answers the door in black jeans and a pink plaid cotton top. She homeschools her 7-year-old grandson and takes Tae Kwon Do lessons with him.

Crawford says she is not a disgruntled KBR employee. The journeyman electrician says she went to Iraq four years ago out of patriotism and the same spirit of adventure that took her to contract jobs in Antarctica and China. She did not realize until she returned that problems she saw in Iraq were systemic, including what she saw as poor management and a lack of government oversight.

Growing up near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Crawford applied for an electrical apprenticeship after graduating Benton City High and became the first female journeyman out of IBEW Local 112 in Kennewick. She met her husband, Cal Crawford, at Hanford and talked him into moving to Seaside, then to Portland where she is a member of Local 48.

Crawford liked the math and technology in being an electrician and working with people who can visualize a problem and design solutions. She also liked that she could get a job anywhere. She spent 10 months in Antarctica, then traveled the country with her husband performing maintenance on nuclear plants.

They signed on in 2004 for Iraq. At $14.90 an hour, the salary was less than half what she made at home, but she felt she could contribute to the war effort.

“I thought I was doing the right thing,” Crawford says.

The couple were housed at different camps. Both threw themselves into their work, surviving rocket and mortar attacks, heat and family disapproval. (Both of Crawford’s parents died while she was overseas and her only daughter Tiffany went in prison for burglary.) Cal returned home after a year, but Crawford reupped for a second, with a raise and management opportunities. She returned to the Northwest July 28, 2008.

She was blogging about her travels and struggles with her daughter, when she heard the news report about Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth’s  death. Since then, Crawford’s writing has almost exclusively focused on war contractors.

She rises every morning at 4:30 and logs on, often working well after her husband and grandson she is raising go to bed. Crawford posts anonymous tips, aggregates related news and videos, expresses her opinion, tips journalists and breaks news such as the death of State Department contractor who was electrocuted in his shower in Iraq in 2009. Categories on her website include “Chemical and other Exposures”; “Contractor Deaths”; “Electrocutions/”; “Indictments, Convictions and Arrests”; “Human Trafficking”; “Rape, Hazing, Discrimination and Harassment”; and “Rants.”

Crawford has expanded her scrutiny to include contractors DynCorp, Fluor and Triple Canopy.

She works without pay but takes donations and advertisements on her website. She has had to bring on another person to handle the information flowing through the site. Still, she says the biggest payoff has been meeting all the special people affected by their service or work in the war zones.

Jill Wilkins was a young Florida widow desperate for information after her Air Force reservist husband, a registered nurse, died of a brain tumor in 2008. Wilkins found Ms. Sparky and within weeks of posting her questions about her husband’s exposure to burn pits in Iraq on mssparky.com, Wilkins was featured on CNN, found other plaintiffs suing over the use of burn pits and was awarded her husband’s veterans benefits.

“It was a lifeline,” says Wilkins, who was so inspired she started her own Facebook site on burn pits.

Crawford says what she wants most is for the federal government to police war contractors.

“I have a 7-year-old who is bound and determined to be a soldier and I have to get this fixed before he is in the Army.”   Read the original story at Oregon Live here

July 12, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act, DynCorp, KBR, Safety and Security Issues, Triple Canopy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America plans to withdraw its troops but leave behind a toxic mess

EXCLUSIVE REPORT: American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside (Part 1 of 3)

The Kabul Press

The American military presence in Afghanistan consists of fleets of aircraft, helicopters, armored vehicles, weapons, equipment, troops and facilities. Since 2001, they have generated millions of kilograms of hazardous, toxic and radioactive wastes. The Kabul Press asks the simple question:

“What have the Americans done with all that waste?”

The answer is chilling in that virtually all of it appears to have been buried, burned or secretly disposed of into the air, soil, groundwater and surface waters of Afghanistan. While the Americans may begin to withdraw next year, the toxic chemicals they leave behind will continue to pollute for centuries. Any abandoned radioactive waste may stain the Afghan countryside for thousands of years. Afghanistan has been described in the past as the graveyard of foreign armies. Today, Afghanistan has a different title:

“Afghanistan is the toxic dumping ground for foreign armies.”

The (U.S.) Air Force Times ran an editorial on March 1, 2010, that read: “Stamp Out Burn Pits” We reprint here the first half of that editorial:

“A growing number of military medical professionals believe burn pits are causing a wave of respiratory and other illnesses among troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Found on almost all U.S. bases in the war zones, these open-air trash sites operate 24 hours a day, incinerating trash of all forms — including plastic bottles, paint, petroleum products, unexploded ordinance, hazardous materials, even amputated limbs and medical waste. Their smoke plumes belch dioxin, carbon monoxide and other toxins skyward, producing a toxic fog that hangs over living and working areas. Yet while the Air Force fact sheet flatly states that burn pits “can be harmful to human health and environment and should only be used until more suitable disposal capabilities are established,” the Pentagon line is that burn pits have “no known long-term health effects.”

Please Read the Full Story here

April 26, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Toxic | , , | 1 Comment

The Legacy of Burn Pits

At the Injury Board Promoting Safety, Protecting Rights

Richard Ronald Guilmette of Enterprise, Alabama, was always a man’s man.

The one-time personal trainer was active in kickboxing and Taekwondo when he joined the Army National Guard in October 1987. He trained to become a helicopter pilot and was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan where for a year, beginning in March 2004, he piloted cargo and people on and off the base and conducted air assaults.

Today, Guilmette, 53, is discharged from the military. He is classified as disabled.

Debilitating migraines, asthma, lung disease, PTSD and memory problems keep him mostly at home where he relies on a host of medications, inhalers, and a sleep apnea machine at night. Now, his exercise consists of walking the dog down the street.

Because of his medical conditions, he lost his job as a flight instructor at Fort Rucker, Alabama, a setback he calls a “kick in the butt.”

He tells IB News, “My wife and daughter say I came back a different person.”

Burn Pits

While in Afghanistan, Guilmette lived in a tent a quarter mile from a burn pit where black, green, yellow, and orange-colored smoke enveloped him and other servicemen daily.

“The running joke about it was that it was SARS, we all got the SARS, and we smelled like burning baby crap. We joked about it and learned to live with it,” he tells IB News.

And live with it they did.

At an estimated 80 military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, waste was disposed of the old fashioned way – in open burn pits. Many may still be in operation today.

Car batteries, amputated limbs, computers, pesticides, unexploded ordinances, chemicals, rat poison, hydraulic fluid, plastic water bottles, tires, medical waste – just about everything and anything is tossed in the pits that sends off a smoldering low-hanging smoke that engulfs everyone downwind.

There was an air condition in Guilmette’s tent but he says its ducts filled with black mold.

Leon Russell Keith, who worked for defense contractor, KBR as a paramedic at the Balad base in Iraq from March 2006 to July 2007, and at Basra from April 2008 until June 2009, told a Senate Democratic Policy Committee last November, there was nothing that KBR would not put in the burn pits.

“I have never heard of any KBR restrictions on what could be burned in the pit. The color of the smoke would change depending on what was burned. Sometimes the smoke was a yellowish color. But the worst was when the smoke would be a dark greenish color. On these days, the KBR medical clinic where I worked could expect an increased number of patients, all complaining of burning throats, eyes as well as painful breathing… In my estimation, at least 30 to 40 percent of the total patient traffic at the medical clinic was generated by the poor air quality.”

Today Keith has Parkinson’s disease and pulmonary problems and has been medically disqualified to return to Iraq. He also has no health insurance.

Guilmette, and the others who had been in the Army for a long time, knew there was a proper way of disposing of garbage. In the past they had packed it up and taken it to a landfill. Burning all kinds of garbage so close to personnel didn’t make sense.

“I talked to a flight surgeon about it,” says Guilmette. “I asked him about the burned human feces and he said that won’t make you sick, but the burning plastics is really gonna get you. The molecules are so big you can breathe them in. He said the burning plastics can cause cancer and are highly toxic.”

Litigation

“Plaintiff Guilmette’s conditions are a direct result of his exposure to the toxic emissions from the burn pits,” says theComplaint filed by law firm Motley Rice LLC of Charleston, S.C. (and IB Partner) and Burke PLLC of Washington D.C.

It names defendants Texas-based contractors KBR, Inc.; Kellogg, Brown & Root Services, Inc.; Kellogg, Brown & Root LLC and Halliburton Company and Turkish-based ERKA Ltd.

Guilmette’s name is first in a long list of Plaintiffs that stretches 117 pages.

In all 300 service men and women from 43 states are included and the numbers are growing since the cases were consolidated in December, 2009 in the KBR, Inc., Burn Pit MDL (multidistrict litigation) before Maryland District Judge Roger W. Titus.

“Intake has just tripled,” says Alicia Ward of Motley Rice.

The lawsuit alleges that military contractors exposed military personnel to toxic smoke, ash and fumes which caused chronic illness and wrongful death. The lawsuit’s collective claims include those for battery, breach of contract, breach of duty to warn, future medical expenses, intentional infliction of emotional distress, medical monitoring, negligence and wrongful death.

Estimates are 100,000 may have been exposed to toxic smoke from burn pits.

KBR

Across Afghanistan and Iraq, burn pits are overseen by defense contractor, KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton.

“My understanding is they were the only one to get a LOGCAP contract in 2001,” Joe Rice of Motley Rice tells IB News.

The Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) allows military personnel to do their job while the defense contractor takes care of everyday needs – food, water, deliveries and the base medical facilities.

KBR is the largest government contractor in Iraq with more than $20 billion in contracts for logistical support of troops, often in no-bid contracts, thanks in part to friends in high places.

When former Vice President Dick Cheney was defense secretary, he reportedly paid Halliburton subsidiary, Brown & Root Services, nearly $9 million to determine whether private company could provide services to American services fighting oversees. Cheney went on to serve as CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000 and retired with a severance package worth $36 million, reported the Guardian in 2004.

Rice is trying to find out how many burn pits are still in operation but the effort to uncover documents through discovery has been blocked by the defendants.

“What’s happening now is Halliburton is trying to say everything is protected because we’re in war,” says Rice. “But the question the court can address is the wording of the contract.”

The contract states the contractor is supposed to follow U.S. environmental law or the environmental laws of the country they are occupying. Military field manuals allow for operation of burn pits on a “short-term” basis.

“There is no reason the courts can’t look at the contract and say, “Did you breach the contract?” asks Rice.

To further muddy the issue, KBR said in a statement to IB News, “KBR never operated or provided support services for the burn pit at Joint Base Balad” and in other areas where KBR does provide burn pit services, “KBR does so in accordance with the relevant provisions of the LOGCAP contract.”

In other words – it is up to the Army, not KBR to decide if a burn pit can be used or an incinerator is necessary and where it will be constructed. KBR says it was just following orders.

AML

“In addition to hearing the shocking stories about the kinds of waste being burned in the burn pits, I have listened to personal reports from our service men and women about injuries that they have sustained, some as serious as lung cancer and leukemia, ” says attorney Elizabeth Burke.

“All passed physical tests before being deployed. Many had plans of a life-long military career. Today some of our clients can’t walk up a flight of stairs; others can’t get out of bed.”

March 23, 2010 Posted by | Toxic | , , , , , | Leave a comment

SENATE DPC HEARING WILL EXAMINE FAILURE TO PROTECT U.S. TROOPS FROM HEALTH IMPACT OF BURN PITS IN IRAQ

Dorgan jpeg

For Immediate Release:                                          FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Wednesday                                                                    CONTACT: Barry E. Piatt

November 4, 2009                                                     PHONE: 202-224-0577

Tens of Thousands of Soldiers May Have Been Exposed:

SENATE DPC HEARING WILL EXAMINE FAILURE TO PROTECT U.S. TROOPS FROM HEALTH IMPACT OF BURN PITS IN IRAQ

( WASHINGTON , D.C. ) — Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced Wednesday the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) will conduct a congressional oversight hearing on Friday, November 6, to examine the health risks associated with the continued use of open-air burn pits by the U.S. military and contractor KBR in Iraq and Afghanistan .

The hearing is set for 10:00 AM and will be held in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington , DC .

Although military guidelines allow the use of burn pits to dispose of waste only in emergency situations, most large U.S. military installations have continued to use burn pits for years, despite growing evidence that exposure to burn pit smoke may be causing an increased incidence of chronic lung diseases, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and cancer.

Hearing witnesses are expected to testify that plastics, paint, solvents, petroleum products, rubber, and medical waste have been burned in the pits.

The hearing will also examine whether military contractor KBR operated the burn pits in a safe and cost-effective manner.

Witnesses will include the Air Force’s former Bioenvironmental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad, who warned three years ago about health hazards associated with burn pit smoke at the base, two KBR whistleblowers, and a medical expert who will describe  the adverse health consequences associated with burn pit smoke inhalation.

Details follow:

WHO: Senators: Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman, and others.

Witnesses: Lt. Colonel Darrin Curtis, former Air Force Bioenvironmental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad; Rick Lamberth, former KBR employee; Russell Keith, former KBR medic; Dr. Anthony Szema, MD, expert on health impact of burn pit smoke.

WHAT: Congressional oversight hearing

WHERE:                Room 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building

WHEN: 10:00 AM, Friday, November 6, 2009

WHY: To examine the health impact of burn pit smoke on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan , whether the Army is providing exposed soldiers and veterans with accurate information about the risks, and whether contractor KBR is safely operating the burn pits.

November 5, 2009 Posted by | KBR | , , , , , | 1 Comment