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Is the Anaconda burn pit linked to illnesses in KBR contractors? March 7, 2009

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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I have been receiving an increasing number of calls recently from former KBR contractors, especially from Camp Anaconda/Balad concerning unusual medical problems possibly associated with exposure to the “burn pits,” disturbingly common to the camps. Apparently, anything that burns ends up thrown in these burn pits. That includes medical waste and plastics.

For more on the burn pits themselves and the action or inaction by Congress and the military concerning them, please visit the burn pit tag page by Ms. Sparky, who has been on top of this situation for some time.

At least as of the end of 2006, the Air Force believed the Anaconda/Balad burn pit posed serious health hazards, per the below linked memorandum:


If a contractor were to be injured or killed by exposure to whatever may be contained in the smoke from the burn pits, or by another condition from the camp sites, their injuries may be covered under the Defense Base Act. The Defense Base Act does provide coverage for “occupational diseases” in the same way it provides coverage for knee or back injuries, however, it can be much more difficult to prove where cancer or leukemia came from as opposed to a torn knee ligament. Successfully pursuing a claim for benefits for an exposure based injury certainly requires your physician(s) to connect your medical problems to the chemicals or conditions you were exposed to.

The types diseases/exposures successfully claimed under the Act already vary widely from lung problems from Asbestos exposure, worsened Asthma, skin problems, certain cancers, lead poisening, leukemia from radiation exposure, Gulf War Syndrome, and even to aggravated hemorrhoids.  

If you have returned home and are suffering from medical problems you fear could be caused by chemical exposure, we encourage you to seek medical attention. Also be aware that you only have two years to file a claim with the Department of Labor. That two year clock is likely to begin no later than at the point where you have been given medical advice connecting your disease to your employment.

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1. Iraq veteran disabled by “Iraq’s Agent Orange” due to exposure to hexavalent chromium « The Defense Base Act Blog - March 9, 2009

[…] Unfortunately, this is not the only reported case of respitory disfunction to come out of Iraq or Afghanistan. On top of the fact that the dusty/sandy environment contributes to lung problems amongst asthmatics or those with COPD, there are fears that practices such as having large “Burn pits” at or close to camps may contribute to some disorders. […]

2. Tim Dimon Retired MSgt USAF - August 3, 2009

I was assigned to Balad from June 2007 to December 2007. The black cloud of death as we called it blew over our housing area daily. I was assigned to the 732nd AEG, 732 ESFS and the black smoke was 24/7.
Upon my return I was diagnosed with Asthma and to this day have problems breathing.

3. Anonymous - January 14, 2012

hello I am trying to find out if my brother John Zaffiro was exposed to any thing that would have caused his throat and lung cancer. He was a truck driver for K,B,R, in 2004 and 2005 and again in 2008 and 2009 all i know is he worked some were in Iraq, My brother passed away on January 2nd 2012

Herb Chestnut - January 18, 2012

I am sorry for the loss of your brother. There were many types of exposures, especially in the early years of the war, that are still under scientific investigation. I have had clients with a variety of conditions ranging from pulmonary disease to forms of cancer. The most likely culprit are the huge burn pits that operated on many bases. In addition to cases under the DBA, there are civil cases pending regarding the burn pits.

If you would email me directly or call me, I will be happy to discuss the matter with you personally.

Thank you for your post.

Herb Chestnut

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