How Bush Supports the Troops – Balad Air Base Burn Pit

Is this any way to support our troops?

The SL Trib has an article about the toxic conditions caused by the burn pit at Balad Air Base in Iraq. It’s a familiar theme to read about a high rate of illnesses among soldiers returning from war zones. Some of these issues have been blamed on exposure to such things as depleted uranium. Who knows what soldiers are being exposed to in Balad. Apparently, the military knows, but won’t reveal the information as it could “damage national security”.

Military officials insist there’s no problem.

But veterans’ advocates are calling for full transparency about the health risks faced by service members who have been stationed at the largest U.S. air base in Iraq, where one inspector called an open-air burn pit “the worst environmental site I have ever personally visited.” . .

. . . the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine is refusing to make the document public, saying that the information it contains “would damage our national security.”[snip]

. . .burn pits are used to get rid of garbage — including weapons, chemicals, plastics, and even amputated limbs. [snip]

. . . a memo penned by Hill Air Force Base officer Darrin Curtis, who served in Balad in 2006 and 2007 and called the burn pit — and it’s distinctive black smoke plume — an “acute health hazard.” In his memo, Curtis cited the 2006 site assessment, including the quote from the unidentified inspector.

According to the memo, that inspector claimed he had never seen anything worse than the situation in Balad, in a decade of reviewing toxic waste issues.

Now that report has been classified. And Col. Thomas Logan, who commands the center, refuses to say why. Logan declined to be interviewed by The Salt Lake Tribune. A spokeswoman only repeated that information in the report could damage national security if it were made public.

According to the Curtis memo, that [exposure] might include dozens of toxins, including arsenic, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide. [snip]

Troy Whittaker, president of the Utah Society for Respiratory Care, said the toxins listed in the Curtis memo might have a “broad range of effects,” including respiratory hyperactivity, cancer, liver disease and pulmonary fibrosis. “

I apologize for excerpting so much from the article. There is just so much that needs to be said about this. Author Karen Kwiatkowski writes about the. . .

larger toxicity problem created by the American government in both Iraq and Afghanistan. [snip] Balad . . . produces, among other things, 250 tons of waste per day. That’s over 90,000 tons of waste per year. . . Today, three “green” incinerators exist at Balad. But to date, the majority of waste is still burned in the open pit. It’s only news today because some apparently unpatriotic American servicemen have been complaining about possible health effects of living downwind from the burn plume.

Just Google the Balad Air Base burn pit to find a great deal more about this problem at Balad.

We Utahns, home of downwinders, are well aware of our government’s willingness to lie while putting people’s health at risk. American soldiers deserve to know the truth. As do the Iraqi people living near Balad as well.

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  1. #1 by Juan on December 16, 2008 - 9:46 am

    Save it baby, this is another token, God forbid me of any illness.

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