Friday, October 9, 2015

Legislation Strengthening The Burn Pit Registry Heads to President Obama

U.S. Senator Tom Udall joined the Senate in voting 70-27 for a major defense policy bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill -- the result of an agreement between the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives -- includes several priorities Udall has championed. The bill includes Udall's measure to strengthen the open-air burn pits registry he created to help veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes while deployed overseas.

"This bill is important for New Mexico's labs and military bases, as well as our troops and defense employees," Udall said. "I fought to include several policies that will support research at our labs, strengthen our bases by continuing construction projects, and sustain thousands of jobs. I'm especially proud that the bill enables us to continue to build the open-air burn pits registry so that we can improve our work to help our troops and veterans suffering from illnesses related to inhaling toxic fumes in Iraq and Afghanistan get the care and treatment they need.”

An amendment Udall authored to require the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to share information relating to the exposure of members of the Armed Forces to airborne hazards and open burn pits.

A consolidated lawsuit is now proceeding ahead in the US District Court against KBR, a government contractor. The lawsuit alleges that KBR, exposed American service members and private civilian contract workers to dangerous and toxic fumes from its unauthorized use of open-air surface burn pits. The exposed individuals and their families  brought a lawsuit against KBR for its allegedly improper use of the burn pits and for failing to warn veterans and civilians of the hazards of being exposed. 

The cases allege that prolonged exposure to the burn pits' smoke, ash and fumes that may have resulted in chronic diseases, risk of future illness and death. The lawsuit alleges that KBR burned large amounts of unsorted waste, including hazardous waste, medical waste, and human waste, at military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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