Poisoning Troops

Toxic emissions from open burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq are being blamed for serious health problems by U.S. military© Steven D. Hanks

Military defense contractor Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) is facing a class-action lawsuit for burning toxic chemicals in Iraq and Afghanistan, posing serious health threats to as many as 100,000 U.S. military. The lawsuit combines 34 separate lawsuits against KBR for allegedly burning toxic waste in open-air pits including: "trucks, tires, lithium batteries, Styrofoam…petroleum-oil-lubricant products, metals, hydraulic fluids, munitions boxes, medical waste, biohazard materials (including human corpses), medical supplies (including those used during smallpox inoculations), paints, solvents, asbestos insulation, items containing pesticides, polyvinyl chloride pipes, animal carcasses, dangerous chemicals and hundreds of thousands of plastic water bottles," according to the lawsuit. The burn pits have been in operation outside Middle East military bases since 2003, some as large as 10 acres, according to eyewitnesses. According to the lawsuit, the company operated these burn pits with no safety regulations, ignoring their contractual obligations.

For many years, KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton, the defense contractor that used to be run by former Vice President Dick Cheney. The company has received nearly $32 billion in defense contracts since 2001, and has been the center of several scandals. After 12 service-people in Iraq were electrocuted to death in 2008 following faulty wiring done by the company, KBR officials were nonetheless paid $80 million in bonuses, according to Department of Defense records.

Health repercussions being claimed in the latest case as a result of the toxic fumes from burned waste range from shortness of breath to cancer. One paramedic, Russell Keith, developed Parkinson’s disease after exposure to burn pits at Joint Base Balad in Iraq over 15 months. Another plaintiff claims his kidney disease came as a result of exposure to the toxic smoke.

Halliburton claims it has been wrongly named in the suit.

SOURCES: The Boston Herald; Google News; The NationThe Raw Story.

Animal Rights National Conference 2018