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Report: US Military Used Dangerous Burn Pits In Afghanistan, Wasted Millions On Broken Incinerators

Photo credit: SIGAR

Unusable incinerator

The U.S. military paid a contractor more than $5 million for unusable incinerators in Afghanistan, as service members continued to use dangerous burn pits for waste removal. That's according to a new report released Monday by the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

SIGAR's investigation found the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers paid $5.4 million for incinerators to be used at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Sharana in Paktika province - without first testing the incinerators to see if they were functional.

They were not.

That meant the only method of waste disposal available was open-air burn pits.

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko said of the Army Corps of Engineers' actions:

“I don’t know what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considers success but spending more than $5 million dollars on something that was never used is not what I call successful to the American taxpayer.

"This project appears to have been a complete waste. Even worse, the open air burn pit used instead of the incinerators put the health of our troops at risk.”

Photo credit: SIGAR

Open-air burn pit

Sopko outlined the dangers of open-air burn pits, according Home Post's previous posts, in a July 2013 letter to military officials in Afghanistan:

"The toxic smoke from burning solid waste each day increases the long-term health risks for camp personnel, including reduced lung function and exacerbated chronic illnesses, ranging from asthma to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease."

The Navy Times reports the Army Corps of Engineers has responded to the SIGAR report, acknowledging some mistakes were made:

ACE officials agreed with SIGAR’s recommendations, but added that after a review of records related to the contract, no contracting officers with oversight on the project were found to have “failed to appropriately perform their assigned duties” and therefore ACE has not taken any action against any personnel involved.

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