Open Burn Pits - The New Agent Orange
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Hundreds of veterans coming back from the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are falling ill and many are dying of
what’s being called the new “Agent Orange”: open air burn pits.
There’s no proven cause but vets and their families say they know why.
Lieutenant Colonel Gwen Chiaramonte is proud to have served her
country. At Balad Air Force Base in Iraq she was a combat stress
therapist, familiar with exposure to danger off base. “You worry but you
think you just have to live,” she said.
Now she believes there was danger from within too: An open air pit
where the base’s garbage was burned. “They they just threw everything
in. Vehicles, tires, plastic bottles, trash, medical waste, dead
animals. Then they would pour jet fuel on it and just light it,” she
Chiaramonte says the burn pit spewed columns of ashy smoke that often
blew right into her nearby housing unit. “It would smell like it would
be on fire,” she said.
She started getting constant nose bleeds. Then when she got home, the really bad news: A rare form of aggressive ovarian cancer.
Hundreds of former and current service members are filing claims with
the Department of Veterans affairs, blaming harmful emissions from the
burn pits for causing mysterious lung diseases, and cancers.
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