Halt use of open-air burn pits, Hagel asked
This demand from Senators Tom Udall and Bob Corker follows a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
The watchdog found the burn pits were utilised without need and at great danger to the health of US military and civil personnel in Afghanistan.
Incinerators are not being used to full capacity because "a contract for their operation and maintenance has not been awarded, despite id="mce_marker"1.5 million spent on their purchase and installation.
"As a result, the camp was relying heavily on open-air burn pit operations to dispose of its solid waste. However, Department of Defense guidance and a US Central Command regulation limit the use of open-air burn pit operations. Camp Leatherneck is in violation of this guidance and regulation," SIGAR concluded.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the senators expressed concern that despite these precautions required by statute and military directives, US men and women in uniform were still exposed to open-air burn pits.
“Last year, we introduced and passed the Open Burn Pits Registry Act, and today we are working to ensure our veterans and service members are made aware of the dangers posed by their exposure. The men and women of the armed forces serving in Afghanistan deserve better," they wrote.
The lawmakers requested a timeline for the prompt closure of the burn pits at Forward Operating Base Salerno and Camp Leatherneck, and an explanation from the Department of Defense for why it did not fully utilise alternative waste disposal methods.
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