Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Report: New trash incinerators in Afghanistan never used by U.S.

Dec. 16, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Forward Operating Base Sharana in Afghanistan, which close din October, continued to operate open-air burn pits in violation of U.S. Central Command policy, even while new, cleaner incinerators at the base went unused. (Courtesy of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction)
Forward Operating Base Sharana in Afghanistan, which close din October, continued to operate open-air burn pits in violation of U.S. Central Command policy, even while new, cleaner incinerators at the base went unused. (Courtesy of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) ()
  • Filed Under
Forward Operating Base Sharana in Afghanistan, which close din October, continued to operate open-air burn pits in violation of U.S. Central Command policy, even while new, cleaner incinerators at the base went unused. (Courtesy of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) ()

The U.S. paid $5.4 million for two never-used trash incinerators at Forward Operating Base Sharana in eastern Afghanistan, potentially exposing troops to hazardous fumes from open-air burn pits used to dispose of waste instead.

In a report released Monday, John Spoko, the Special Inspector General For Afghanistan Reconstruction, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accepted the facility built by a Denver-based contractor in December 2012 — more than two years after it was supposed to be finished — without conducting any safety inspections.

The contractor who would have operated the incinerators found they had $1 million worth of electrical safety issues that posed a hazard to workers.

“FOB Sharana officials told us they decided not to operate the incinerators because of the high cost to repair the electrical deficiencies,” Sopko wrote.

SIGAR also found that the two 40-ton incinerators could never have been used to full capacity because they were built in an area too narrow to allow large trash haulers to properly load the waste.

FOB Sharana closed in October. U.S. Forces Afghanistan officials told SIGAR that the Afghans have dismantled the incinerators, “presumably for scrap.”

The Sharana report is the third in a series from SIGAR on unused or underutilized trash incinerators in Afghanistan.

In April, the inspector general found that two large trash incinerators at Forward Operating Base Salerno were unused and rusting, at a cost of $5.4 million to the taxpayer. The units were never operational because of construction deficiencies and a dispute over maintenance.

In July, SIGAR reported that four trash incinerators at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, were being underused or not used at all. The camp’s smallest incinerators, two 12-ton units, were not being used to full capacity and the largest, two 24-ton incinerators, weren’t operational because a contract for running them had not been awarded.

Sopko warned that underutilization of the incinerator units “increases the long-term health risks for camp personnel, including reduced lung function and exacerbated chronic diseases” because in lieu of incinerators, base operators have disposed of trash in large open air burn pits.

The trash pits, which produce large amounts of smoke and gas, are considered a potential health hazard by many, although scientific data has not proven their long-term health consequences.

Troops and contractors have used burn pits to dispose of everything from plastic bottles and paper trash to human and medical waste.

Hundreds of troops have reported medical problems they believe are related to living and working near the pits, from rare pulmonary diseases and unexplained rashes to cancer.

U.S. Central Command issued a policy in 2011 requiring that incinerators — or another trash-disposal method — be operational at bases of more than 100 troops.

The Veterans Affairs Department is establishing a registry of affected troops to study the extent of the health consequences of open-air burn pits.

In its most recent report, SIGAR questioned the Army Corps of Engineers’ ability to hold contractors accountable. The office recommended ACE conduct an investigation into the acceptance of the facility and payment to contractor International Home Finance & Development.

“Because of the delays and eventual acceptance of an unusable incinerator facility, base personnel faced continued exposure to potentially hazardous emissions and $5.4 million of U.S. taxpayer dollars could have been put to better use,” the report stated.

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.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.


This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

2015 career forecast
Fewer promotions, more force-outs

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
Woman who cried rape
(3 replies)
   Last Post: TJMAC77SP
        May 3, 2014 1:32 PM
   Last Post: garhkal
        May 1, 2014 5:03 PM
Cliven Bundy
(45 replies)
   Last Post: Chief_KO
        Apr 26, 2014 9:49 AM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook