Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Anaconda Burn Pit

Anaconda Burn Pit, Balad, Iraq 2006 - Photo credit: courtesy of SPC Jami Gibbs of PatriotMissive.com

Safest place in Iraq for an American to be - surrounded by the US military. So really, who'd ever think to look for the body of a missing contractor on an American military base? 

I've posted about the Anaconda* burn pile before (here). From everything I've ever read about the burn pit - it's a great place to hide a dead body. Turns out I'm not too far off - literally.

Assuming the memo cited in the article below is true, amputated limbs from the base hospital were routinely discarded on the burn pile. Commenters also say "unserviceable uniform items" refering to clothing with blood and/or body remains were also disposed of this way. So if human remains are ever uncovered at the pit, it's quite likely no one will ever think to treat those remains as evidence in an abduction-murder case. 

Hopefully I'm way off and just horribly wrong and Kirk von Ackermann was snatched by Iraqi insurgents as CID says and he was not abducted and murdered at the hands of Americans as I currently fear. 

Senior Airman Frances Gavalis tosses unserviceable uniform items into a burn pit at Balad Air Base, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Hill AFB officer worries that Iraqi burn pit threatens troops' health
By Matthew D. LaPlante, The Salt Lake Tribune, October 29, 2008

A memo being circulated at military bases across the country, written by an officer from Hill Air Force Base, calls the pit an "acute health hazard" -- one that may have increased the risk of chronic problems for hundreds of thousands of service members and contractors who have done tours of duty at the largest base in Iraq.

As they have taken steps to end the practice, Air Force officials claim it doesn't pose a health risk.

The critical memo was written by environmental engineer Darrin Curtis, who served with the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group at Balad from September 2006 to January 2007. He expressed his dismay with the burning of toxic chemicals, plastics and other toxic waste -- including, according to some reports, amputated limbs from the base hospital -- and the lack of any apparent concern for the health of those breathing in the smoke.
According to one commenter at Military.com, the memo cited was the result of a study commissioned by Army COSCOM/CC.

Additional Reading:

[Photos] Health risk for soldiers in Balad, Iraq: The Burn Pit
by Mrs. Missive, Patriot Missive, October 30, 2008
(includes the author's photos)

[Photos] Health risk for soldiers in Balad, Iraq: The Burn Pit (crosspost)
by Mrs. Babble, American Babble, October 30, 2008
(includes the author's photos)

The Smell of Burning Flash in the Morning
By Marshall Thompson, November 3, 2008
(includes the author's photos)

Balad Burn Pit May Pose Health Risk
Reprint at Military.com, October 30, 2008

*Anaconda is now known as Joint Base Balad

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