A U.S. Army soldier watches bottled water burn at Forward Operating Base Azzizulah in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 4, 2013. Photo by Andrew Burton/Reuters
Star Tribune: Iraq, Afghan vets may have their own Agent Orange
While it took nearly three decades for the U.S. government to eventually link Agent Orange, the defoliant used in Vietnam, to cancer, President Obama has pledged quick action to make determinations about the effect of the burn pits on perhaps as many as 60,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
ROCHESTER – They are known as the Agent Orange of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars: Massive open-air burn pits at U.S. military bases that billowed the toxic smoke and ash of everything from Styrofoam, metals and plastics to electrical equipment and even human body parts.
The flames were stoked with jet fuel.
One of the most notorious was in Balad, site of the largest and busiest air base operated by the military in Iraq. More than 10 acres in size, the pit burned at all hours and consumed an estimated 100 to 200 tons of waste a day. It was hastily constructed upwind from the base, and its plumes consistently drifted toward the 25,000 troops stationed there.
During two deployments to Balad with the Minnesota Air National Guard, Amie Muller worked and lived next to the pits. And now, she believes, she is paying the price.
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WNU Editor: Here is a photo essay on the burn its in Iraq and Afghanistan .... Photo essay: The burn pits of Iraq and Afghanistan (PBS News Hour).