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Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.

Military burn pits at Afghanistan base may pose health risk to troops, report says

A military camp in Afghanistan continues to use open-air burn pits to dispose of its solid wastes, potentially endangering the health of the nearly 13,500 people working there and violating the Pentagon's own regulations and guidance, federal investigators say.The Defense Department has said burn pits should only be used as a temporary last resort when no other alternative trash disposal method is feasible. Even then, at bases containing more than 100 personnel, burn pits are supposed to operate a maximum of 360 days. However, the burn pit at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan's Helmand province continues to operate some five years after the camp was started, says John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.The base could avoid using the burn pits altogether if the Pentagon were to make full use of four incinerators that cost $11.5 million to purchase and install, Sopko said."The toxic smoke from burning solid waste each day increases the long-term health r...

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