From today's Star Tribune: our military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan burned their garbage right next to the bases. That includes plastic and styrofoam and electronics and all sorts of things whose burned particles no one should be breathing.
And it wasn't incidental: burning your crap has always been military SOP.
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.Yeah, that's brilliant. On top of building a 10-acre burn pit, you put it upwind. (Though if it was downwind, I suppose it would have poisoned Iraqis instead.)
And how does having a 24-hour-a-day column of black smoke fit with the supposedly secret locations of these bases? Or at least, American soldiers aren't supposed to tell their families where their bases are at. But I guess it's okay for anyone in Iraq to know where they are.
The military learned nothing, it seems, from Agent Orange or Gulf War Syndrome. Though since 2009 they've halted the practice, so maybe they finally did, after they had 36-year-old veterans like Julie Tomaska developing pancreatic cancer, as described in the story.