August 10, 2010
Burn pit trash fires in war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan causing increasing alarm
Hundreds of military service members and contractor employees have reported serious illnesses, including cancer and severe breathing problems, following service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Alleging that exposure to toxins and smoke produced by burn pit waste disposal caused their illnesses, many have filed lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland against numerous defendants, including Kellogg, Brown & Root Services, Inc. (KBR), a Houston-based contractor that has operated more than two dozen burn pits in the two countries.
Although this litigation is on-going, the controversy surrounding burn pit exposure has already prompted Congress to place limits on burn pits. The open-air burning of plastics, tires, aerosol cans and other materials was banned by the military in March 2010, and, in April, the Department of Veterans Affairs identified potential environmental hazards of burn pits. In July 2010, the American Lung Association also urged the military to find alternative means of waste disposal.