Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Human Cost of the Military’s Toxic Burn Pits

Today's post is shared from medium.com and is authored by Matthew Gault.

Jason Dawson joined the Marines in 2003 and went to Iraq in 2006. He deployed to Al Asad air base in Anbar province where he was part of a crash, fire and rescue team.

When his tour finished, he stayed and became a civilian contractor—a firefighter.

He liked the pay and the work, but he didn’t like the burn pits. Al Asad maintained a large, open-air ditch filled with burning garbage. It’s how the base disposed of all its waste.


“Some mornings I remember waking up … and I could smell the burn pits,” he says.

Dawson stayed in Al Asad for three years, and the whole time he dealt with toxic fumes. Since coming home, he’s developed several mysterious health problems doctors can’t seem to diagnose.

Dawson—who is a personal friend—is not alone. Thousands of returning soldiers and civilians reported various health problems after coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many suspect prolonged exposure to the burn pits are the cause.

What didn’t help is that the military’s efforts to clean up the burn pits were half-hearted at best, and negligent at worst. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

In the report, the congressionally-mandated watchdog details taxpayer cash wasted trying to close the Pentagon’s burn pits.

But worse than the monetary waste is how...

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Indefensible" - More than $20 million for military incinerators up in smoke

"This report highlights the ways in which incinerator operations in Afghanistan were not conducted in a manner that resulted in the most efficient use of U.S. taxpayer funds. Unfortunately, in many instances DOD officials did not take sufficient steps to ensure the proper management of contracts for the construction of the incinerators to address the problems identified during our inspections of particular incinerator facilities. Given the fact that DOD has been aware for many years of the significant health risks associated with open-air burn pits, it is indefensible that U.S. military personnel, who are already at risk of serious injury and death when fighting the enemy, were put at further risk from the potentially harmful emissions from the use of open-air burn pits. " Quote from SIGAR Report

Today's blog post is shared from http://america.aljazeera.com/

Every day, U.S. troops stationed at military bases accumulate waste: from Styrofoam packaging, to batteries and used equipment. Despite health warnings, U.S. bases in Afghanistan have been using open-air burn pits to dispose of all this litter.


By 2011, the Department of Defense (DOD) began using other methods, including installing incinerators at some of the military bases. In its latest report on U.S. government spending in Afghanistan, a government watchdog has found that the U.S. military spent over $80 million on incinerators, but at least $20 million of that money was wasted because four bases never used the machines.

The Special Inspector General of Afghanistan Reconstruction [SIGAR] reported Thursday that 23 incinerators were built at nine U.S. military bases across Afghanistan since 2011 at a cost of $81.9 million.

The incinerators, along with landfill operations, were meant to replace the open-air burn pits, but because of inadequate planning, design and construction, four installations costing $20.1 million were never operational.
The DOD paid the contractors for all the incinerators in full.


One forward-operating base installed two incinerators that were meant to work 24 hours a day, SIGAR noted. But the base was in a “blackout” area, meaning it couldn't operate anything at night so as not to attract rocket fire. The designation limited the base’s ability to incinerate waste to 60 percent of its daily production.

"Further, given the...

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

US Supreme Court Allows Burn Pit Disease Lawsuit to Go Forward

The US Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of KBR.  Therefore, the case will remain active and will return to the US District Court for further action.

The case is a consolidated action under Federal Multi-District Litigation against government contractors Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) and Halliburton for alleged harm to military personnel & other individuals caused by exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan that were used to dispose of material including medical waste, plastics, paints and pesticides.


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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  jon@gelmans.com  has been representing burn pit victims and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Click here to contact us.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

US Supreme Court Conferenced Burn Pit Case

The US Supreme is scheduled to conference the burn pit litigation case pending against KBR and others for alleged negligence in operating burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of US military and civilian employee claim medical injuries following from the exposures to dust and fumes and other pollution caused by their operation. 


The Petition for review, filed by KBR, was conferenced by the Court in private session on January 16, 2015. 

The following is an issue analysis shared from scotusblog.com/

13-1241 KBR, Incorporated v. Metzgar

(1) Whether the political question doctrine bars state-law tort claims against a battlefield support contractor operating in an active war zone when adjudication of those claims would necessarily require examining sensitive military judgments;

(2) whether the Federal Tort Claim Act's “combatant-activities exception,” 28 U.S.C. § 2680(j), preempts state-law tort claims against a battlefield support contractor that arise out of the U.S. military's combatant activities in a theater of combat; and

(3) whether the doctrine of derivative sovereign immunity bars state-law tort claims against a private contractor performing delegated public functions where the government would be immune from suit if it performed the same functions.

CVSG: 12/16/2014.

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Kansas veteran worries exposure to hazardous fumes cause of health problems

Returning veteran's who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have become increasingly concerned over the exposure to environmental pollution that they may have been exposed as a result of the use of burn pits.  Today's post is shared from khi.org/

Four months ago, U.S. Army veteran Brandon Garrison played in an all-day softball tournament, a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project.

“The tournament was on a Saturday,” Garrison said. “The next day I woke up and I couldn’t walk.”

Garrison, a 28-year-old from Leavenworth, experienced debilitating muscle pain for several days and was hospitalized at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility. He left with a cane that he was still using last month.

After multiple wartime deployments to Afghanistan as an infantryman and a supply specialist, Garrison has health conditions that are explainable: traumatic brain injury from the concussive blasts of explosives and post-traumatic stress disorder from the strain of combat. But he also has conditions that are harder to explain: nerve twitches, muscle weakness, fibromyalgia, chronic prostatitis, low testosterone.

In researching those symptoms in U.S. soldiers, he came across websites like Burn Pits 360, where other veterans discussed the potential hazards associated with the massive open air burn pits used to dispose of waste at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Garrison used those pits in his supply role. He remembered some of the things that were thrown into them: feces, human remains, the carcasses of diseased animals, batteries, spent ammunition casings, medical waste.

“We were taking used vehicle parts that had transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid, things like that and throwing them in these burn pits,” he said. “My job was to turn this stuff in. If it’s unserviceable, we disposed of it. Tires. Paint, I’m sure. Any one of those things, if you burn it stateside, you can get written up for it because it’s a hazard.”


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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The US Solicitor General Urges Supreme Court To Deny KBR’s Request for Review

The Solicitor General, on behalf of the US Government, submitted a brief on Dec. 18, 2014 urging Supreme Court to reject the appeal request of defendant KBR in the Burn Pit Litigation case. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held in favor of the military personnel and their families in an action against KBR, and others, for negligently operating burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the brief The US Government recommends that burn pit cases be remanded to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings. The Solicitor General wrote, “…The petition for a writ of certiorari should be denied.” 

Cases in the Burn Pit multi-district litigation, KBR Inc. et al. v. Alan Metzgar et al., include personal injury and wrongful death claims by veterans against the military contractor KBR, Inc. in the management and operation of open-air burn pits in active war zones. Read more about burn pit litigation .


Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Toxic Trash Contamination on US Military Bases

Today's post is share from globalresearch.ca//

America’s military is the world’s greatest polluter. Especially in war theaters. During conflicts. Long after they end. Notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. Toxic wastelands and then some. Large areas unsafe for human habitation. Military operations generate hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic waste. Dangerous carcinogens. Including depleted uranium, heavy metals, hazardous chemicals, plastics, solvents, asbestos, pesticides, petroleum fuels, fungi, and bacteria. Poisoning air, water and soil. Affecting local populations and US forces. Causing virtually every imaginable health problem. Many longterm. Debilitating. Others potentially fatal. Including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal ailments, kidney and liver diseases, respiratory, skin and other infections, asthma, immune system suppression, ulcers, birth defects, severe headaches, emotional distress, pulmonary problems, sexual dysfunction and chronic diarrhea.

Open-air burn pits as large as 10 acres bear much responsibility. Used to incinerate trash. Notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. State-of-the-art incinerators when used release heavy metals, unburned toxic chemicals and entirely new ones during incineration. Hundreds. Potentially thousands. Many unidentified. Many more toxic than original waste burned. Remaining longterm. Some producing virtual permanent contamination. Once released, traveling vast distances. Via air and water currents. Producing global contaminants.

Affecting food and...
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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  jon@gelmans.com  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.