February 8, 2012
Afghan Recycling Program: Waste management and economic development plan address burn pit use
According to a news release distributed on Feb. 1, 2012, by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the International Operations Division of the Huntsville Center in Alabama is working with other organizations to establish a recycling program in Afghanistan which combines waste management with economic and social development. The environmental support contract is with technical and management support services firm, AECOM.
The mission of the program is to support "an economic development strategy by partnering with Afghanis to build sustainable Afghan businesses surrounding waste recycling that extends beyond U.S. military installations there and into local communities." In addition to numerous integrated solid waste management initiatives, the program focuses on waste composting projects to help manage burn pit emissions.
Solid waste has often been disposed of on military bases by burning fuel-drenched solid waste in an open pit. Some veterans and former military or civilian personnel have alleged that exposure to large quantities of harmful toxins and fumes emitted from open-air burn pits on military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan caused serious injuries such as respiratory diseases and rare cancers.
"Burn pits create serious air pollution problems around the camps and bases not to mention personnel exposure issues to the smoke and particulate … we believe that we can eventually eliminate the burn pits with this program," said AECOM Associate Program Director Suzanne Thomas-Cole.