The Washington Post

IG report: Afghans don’t use the garbage incinerators U.S. bought them


Open-Air Burn Pit at Shindand Airbase Source: SIGAR, February 14, 2014

The Defense Department is being asked to explain why solid waste was burned openly at an Afghanistan airbase when two fully operational incinerators were available.

A report released Tuesday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction is part of an ongoing investigation into why U.S. taxpayer-funded incinerators are going unused at many bases. It comes as the family of a 46-year-old Texas man who died earlier this month blames his death on his exposure to the toxic air emitted from burning the military bases’ waste in the open. David Thomas was a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars who died of lung cancer that spread to his brain.

The investigators looked into an airbase in western Afghanistan where, after receiving two incinerators in August 2012, personnel continued to burn its garbage in open pits.

The Shindand Airbase is home to 4,000 U.S. and Afghan military and civilian personnel. But while the incinerators paid for by the U.S government were operational by January 2013, the U.S-generated waste was burned openly until June 2013 and the Afghan military used the pits instead of the incinerators until October 2013. (Now the Afghan waste is hauled from the airbase.)

The incinerators were part of a $4.4 million solid waste management contract for Shindand.

This report is the fourth of its kind on the situation at various bases. In February 2014, the investigators visited Shindand and found that the incinerators meant for Afghan-use had still never been used. The watchdog recommends U.S. Central Command to look into some unanswered questions: Why did the U.S. military continue to use the burn pits after its incinerators were fully operational and why was Congress was never notified that they weren’t being used, which is required by law?

The investigators also want the U.S. to look into why the Afghans weren’t using the incinerators “we provided.” But Central Command has said it’s not its role to make the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) use them, though it would continue to encourage it. For the Afghans, the cost of running the incinerators is a deterrent even if there are serious health risks.

Currently there are lawsuits pending related to the open burn pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan and the resulting exposure to toxic fumes.

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
Republicans debate tonight. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
GOP candidates react to Justice Scalia's death
Quoted
I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish.
Sen. Marco Rubio, attacking Sen. Ted Cruz in Saturday night's very heated GOP debate in South Carolina. Soon after, Cruz went on a tirade in Spanish.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
The State's Andy Shain says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

politics

in-the-loop

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.