TRANSCRIPTGWEN IFILL: Brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder are two well-known signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But there is another injury, lung disease, that afflicts tens of thousands of veterans. Many blame a single defense contractor and have filed a class action lawsuit, a case that has now made its way to the Supreme Court.
NewsHour producer Dan Sagalyn has been covering this, and Hari Sreenivasan has the story.
MAN: We have a burn pit down here.
HARI SREENIVASAN: This shaky video of smoke from burning garbage was shot by an American soldier in Iraq in 2008. Throughout most of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military used so-called burn pits to dispose of virtually all waste.
MAN: That is what we leave next to. Luckily, the wind is not blowing our way today.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All kinds of things went up in smoke, from batteries, paint, solvents and tires, to newspapers, plastic water bottles, styrofoam, electronic equipment, and shipping materials such as plastic wrap. Even whole vehicles were burned.
At large bases, 30 to 40 of tons garbage were burned every day. At the gigantic logistical hubs, three to five times that amount was burned. Sometimes, jet fuel was even used to ignite the trash....
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