14 August 2009

Burn Pits and Electrocution

One of the most common Iraq questions I receive is "What was the burn pit like?"

Well, quite simply, it stank!

The burn pit is a facility for open pit burning of solid waste. Bit by bit, the base in Iraq has gotten three or four high temperature incinerators online, but as far as I know, the pit burns on today, for a portion of the waste.

It was in the news recently as two OK veterans sued Haliburton and KBR over health risks associated with the burn pit:


As for my experience, I found that when the wind was blowing the smoke plume from the burn pit to the hospital, it was tougher breathing and I would cough up dark phlegm. We called it the "Balad Crud". It reminded me of how I would feel when I was laying down tar on summer jobs during high school.

War is war, and the conditions are not ideal, but I was disappointed that the smoky haze over the hospital produced by the burn pit continued year after year. It isn't the only situation created by the suboptimal environment in theater. Faulty wiring has been found responsible for the deaths of several soldiers, including Special Forces soldier, Staff SGT. Ryan Maseth, who was electrocuted in the shower in Baghdad 2 JAN 2008.

More info on other soldiers killed here:

A great patriot and concerned citizen, Deb, AKA "Ms. Sparky" has worked tirelessly to keep the public informed about dangerous conditions for troops and holding contractors responsible for protecting their lives.


We Americans should all strive to keep the welfare of the troops ever-present in our minds.

Have you had an experience with poorly constructed or dangerous base facilities? Do you have any ideas on how to better protect our troops? Please post your thoughts in the comments.

Below is a picture of the burn pit in action.

Be well, love life, and remember our troops!


  1. I just wanted to drop you a quick comment asking if you're settled in now and can better find your way around the hospital. I can't imagine how big it must be for you to get lost that easily.

    Thanks for continuing with your blog. Do you intend to keep writing after the book is published? Please, let us know more about it as you find out all the exciting details - like title and where we can buy the thing. I'd like to get a copy after following along on your blog.

    And finally, thanks for the sorta invite. I should see if there are any decent campgrounds nearby and the terrorize my daughters by telling them we're going camping!

    Melinda (in Ohio)

  2. Thanks for commenting M, good to see you!

    Yes! I'll keep trying to write as long as I can think of something interesting to say! (And probably even when I don't)

    The book will be available 11 NOV 2009 at the usual online vendors and in brick and mortar bookstores. One good lead to find locations will be the publisher's website: www.ntiupstream.com and we will be adding more info here.

    take care!



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