• Despite Spending $81.9 Million on Incinerators, U.S. Still Using Toxic Burn Pits in Afghanistan

    March 3, 2015

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Iraq, Military


    American forces in Afghanistan (“The Other War, The One Not About ISIS”) produce an extraordinary amount of garbage.

    War is a Waste

    Waste, after all, is a cornerstone of the same American Way we have been trying to hammer into the Afghan’s heads now for over thirteen years. There is human waste, medical waste, food waste, chemical waste, never mind old batteries, toxic electronics and all the rest. It all has to go somewhere, and often times the easiest way to get rid of it is just to burn it all. To avoid contaminating further the entire country, never mind endangering the health of Americans and Afghans nearby, a proper incinerator is the right tool for the job. It also seems to be one of the most expensive, especially when it is not used.


    It is thus hard to choose which part of the latest pile of garbage to come out of Afghanistan to focus on, so here are all three:

    (A) Is it that $20.1 million was wasted because four U.S. military installations in Afghanistan never used their incinerators? Trash was merely dumped nearby, often within sight of the expensive incinerators.

    (B) Or is it that the U.S. spent $81.9 million on incinerator systems and only equipped a total of nine military installations in Afghanistan?

    (C) Or is it that despite all of the above, there are still over 200 active, open-air, burn pits in Afghanistan?

    Trick question students! The correct answer is (D), All of the Above.

    Toxic Actions

    The most recent Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report (“The Catalog of Horrors”) blithely informs us that prohibited items such as tires and batteries continue to be disposed of in open-air burn pits even after Congress passed legislation to restrict that practice. SIGAR also tells us that the Department of Defense paid the full contract amount for incinerators that were never used because they contained deficiencies that were not corrected, and that U.S. military personnel and others were exposed to the emissions from open-air burn pits that could have lasting negative health consequences.

    SIGAR also adds that a “common theme” throughout 30 inspection reports over a period of years is that contractors who installed the incinerators did not deliver according to the specified requirements but were still paid the full contract amount and released without further obligation.

    Beyond the Monetary Waste

    The saddest part of all is not the monetary waste, but the human one. The dangers of open air burning of toxic substances has long been known, and the practice outlawed, across the United States. More specifically, the effects of such practices in Iraq and Afghanistan on the soldiers ordered to carry out the burning are well-documented.

    A federal registry of U.S. troops and veterans possibly sickened by toxic smoke in Iraq and Afghanistan has gathered nearly 11,000 eligible names since it was established in 2013. The airman who inspired the registry to be created contracted constrictive bronchiolitis, a potentially progressive, terminal disease, due to burn pit exposure.

    In only one example, explored in Senate hearings on toxic burn sites, it was revealed that the carcinogen Sodium Dichromate was spread across a ruined water-injection facility in Qarmat Ali, Iraq, exposing thousands of individuals.

    So much for supporting the troops when it counts.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Sheezus Peter…I can’t keep up. 🙁 🙂

      03/3/15 1:39 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      The moral of this story – it is better to screw one’s government, than raise red flags in hopes of preventing problems and wind up black listed.

      Bonus — contractors who screw our government can also evade paying their taxes. Double bonus – if said contractors list *insert name of Caribbean island* as their headquarters to avoid Uncle Sam. Super-bonus – classify the problem and screw American vets from being able to qualify for healthcare and of course, totally screw the local communities who have no recourse

      03/3/15 2:00 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Who knew that invading Iraq and Afghanistan to promote ‘freedom’ would really translate as promoting ‘freedom’ from United States’ laws and regulations. Oh, but the law we swore to defend and uphold – binds our hands *insert faux hand-wringing gesture by entities profiting off our goverment*

      03/3/15 2:03 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Fuck. Day by day, day in..day out, year after year after year, the USG shitpile of corruption just keeps getting higher and higher.

      bartender..time for the big guns. Just leave the bottle of Bacardi 151. And a match. Time to light off that toxic burn pit in WDC.

      03/3/15 2:04 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Sort of suggests that there was only disgust by those running the war for those who needed a job so badly they signed a contract to do the killing in a foreign land. The elite have always secretly despised the help they could hire cheaply to do dangerous and crappy work.

      03/3/15 4:06 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Speaking of toxic waste:

      David H. Petraeus will plead guilty to one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison. Mr. Petraeus has signed the agreement, said Marc Raimondi, a Justice Department spokesman.

      If he was a whistleblower, he would have gotten 20 years.


      03/3/15 4:27 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Obama: “Damn! One more name I gotta add to my pardon list.”

      03/3/15 4:33 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      03/3/15 4:36 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      03/3/15 6:21 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...



      Yeah, well it ain’t over yet. This was just a plea deal. He still has to face a Judge, who doesn’t have to adhere to sentencing “guidelines”. Let’s pray he gets a Judge who #despises liars with #extreme prejudice. Especially those in high places. I’m not holding my breath though.

      No matter, this plea deal is the final living proof the DOJ TwoTiered Injustice system is alive and well in Murka. And sickening. I bet Kiriakou is enraged. In fact, this whole country should be outraged to the point of riots, if not pitchforks and lamp posts. meanwhile

      bartender.. yeah, you got it, a bottle Outrage and two shots of HangEmHigh.

      03/3/15 7:50 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      ps..Snowden should get such a deal. In a parallel universe.

      03/3/15 7:52 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      ps..someone needs to start a hashtag aimed at Patraeus.. like.. #Spitinhisface or #Lyingduschbag or how bout.. #Secretsfornookie..hell..all of them.

      03/3/15 8:03 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      bartender…on second thought..make it a double shot of Bloodyfuckingpitchforks

      03/3/15 8:05 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Can’t jail the guy who may be running this country in 2021.

      03/3/15 10:10 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      What does one say when confronted with the living proof the DOJ’s TwoTiered Justice system is not only real, but advancing it’s hubris to the point they are laughing in your face? What does one say when confronted with unimpeachable evidence your government is covering up hideous, sadistic war crimes of such magnitude it is impossible to imagine. What does one say, when confronted with the fact that you woke up this morning into a surveillance world even Orwell cannot fathom? What do you do when confronted with the reality of your own relevance to change anything?

      bartender.. give me whatever craft beer emptywheel is drinking with a chaser of RULES OF ENGAGEMENT.

      03/3/15 10:28 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      Bartender, cut this guy off. Tomorrow on the blog we’ll be talking Hillary and her private email accounts and he’ll need his strength.

      03/3/15 10:30 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      03/3/15 10:40 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      The government’s message is clear,” Drake said in a statement. “Whistleblowing in the public interest will be punished, while disclosing classified information devoid of public value will get you a pass….ans a blowjob.

      Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/nsa-whistleblower-denounces-david-petraeus-plea-bargain-115724.html#ixzz3TMhtQc5M

      03/3/15 10:42 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      PVB Ah- Hillary for the next blog? I’m still holding out that we don’t end up in the Susan McDougal work camp but if we do perhaps we could engender a seance while leaning on our shovels and ask the spectre of Vince Foster to give us advice on how to spend out time in purgatory.

      03/3/15 11:41 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      wemeantwell said…

      “Bartender, cut this guy off”

      Yer two late.. whaz yu problum..I’ms juz fine..er..where’s the flor? geez, it wuz hear whan i sturted drinkin.. wait.. did you say Hillary?

      sheeez. of all the nurve..juz whens I wuz ruddy to do baddle.. ruls of enragement be dahngd..

      bartender..the brackest coffree ya got. Leave teh pot too.

      now whur’d i put that broomstick? it’s time ole Patraeus gets a good ole fashun thumpin.. as sune as i find teh flore..

      meanwhile..someone kall me a cab… jus don call me a moron.. haha. hey..whaazamatta..you don like joks? yer not laughin. well, gotta go now..i hav a pointment with Obaabaa..gonna giv him an earfull.. but furst..someone point me towardz teh bathrume.. I gotta drain my Petraeus..hahahaha!

      sheezus… hey..how many generals does it take to screw a light bulb?

      don assk..it’s klassified..unless yur a lightbulb..hahahaha.. c’mman sheeesh.. it’s whack-a-general day..

      hey..question..what’s the difference between a Army general and a slug?

      answer.. one’s a slimy, green, scum eating, belly crawlin no good fer nothin sack of puke inducing putrescent mass..and the other has a shell on it’s back….

      ummm..yer not laughin yet. ok..let’s try PigSucking 4 Star Liars for $2k.

      jeeez..whatszamatta u..no since of humor? ok ok..I’ll stop.

      hey bartender..where’s that coffee? I’ve got an appointment with another scum sucking slug who lies through her teeth and wears pant suits to bed. goddammit..another skag..different day…sheech.. yud think I’d get a clue.

      03/4/15 2:22 PM | Comment Link

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