House moves to tighten rules on burn pits

By Kelly Kennedy – Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Jun 25, 2009 18:27:36 EDT

The House of Representatives passed a provision Thursday in its version of the 2010 defense authorization bill that would prohibit open-air burn pits from operating for longer than 12 months in Iraq and Afghanistan.   The amendment also would require the secretary of defense to submit a report to Congress about safer alternatives to burning trash in giant pits during contingency operations. The provision was introduced by Reps. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., and Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H.  “Burn pits expose our troops to dangerous toxins that can cause long-term health problems,” Shea-Porter said in a prepared statement. “When they deploy, our service members put their lives at risk and do not deserve to suffer this added, unjustifiable risk.”  The amendment was endorsed by the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, National Guard Association of the United States, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Veterans and Military Families for Progress.  Since Military Times launched an investigation into the pits in October, more than 400 service members have contacted Disabled American Veterans saying they believe they are sick because of the pits. “More and more service members have come forward with various symptoms and life-threatening medical conditions after being exposed to burn pits used to dispose of waste in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the Military Officers Association of America said in its endorsement.


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