What does the US owe Iraq for the military’s toxic burn pits?

Twenty years after the war, many Iraqis are suffering the consequences of burn pits the US used to dispose of waste.

Master Sgt. Darryl Sterling, 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron equipment manager, tosses unserviceable uniform items into a burn pit at Balad Air Base in Balad, Iraq March 10, 2008.
Master Sergeant Darryl Sterling tosses items into a burn pit at Balad Air Base in Balad, Iraq, on March 10, 2008. [Senior Airman Julianne Showalter/Reuters]

In Iraq, some scars of the US-led invasion remain hidden, even as the war’s 20th anniversary is marked this week. The US military for years disposed of waste in burn pits on wide swathes of land that were constantly smoking. Some were the size of a football field. In them were plastics, electronics, and military and medical waste. The environmental impacts of the invasion, including those burn pits, continue to plague Iraqis to this day. After years of lobbying, the US government approved legislation to address the health impacts on US soldiers, but there has been no discussion of compensation for Iraqi civilians.

In this episode: 

  • Kali Rubaii (@KaliRubaii), assistant professor of anthropology at Purdue University

Episode credits:

This episode was produced by Negin Owliaei and Amy Walters with Chloe K Li and our host, Malika Bilal. Miranda Lin fact-checked this episode.

Our sound designer is Alex Roldan. Adam Abou-Gad and Munera Al Dosari are our engagement producers. 

Alexandra Locke is The Take’s executive producer, and Ney Alvarez is Al Jazeera’s head of audio.

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Source: Al Jazeera