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Nov 11, 2009 3:38 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Bishop's burn pit legislation signed into law

Nov 11, 2009 3:38 PM

President Barack Obama recently signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes provisions authored by U.S. Representative Tim Bishop of Southampton to protect the thousands of troops exposed to open, toxic burn pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The provisions were based on Mr. Bishop’s legislation, the Military Personnel War Zone Toxic Exposure Prevention Act, which he introduced in May 14.

Some military personnel who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been affected by exposure to toxins emitted from open-air burn pits used to dispose of medical and hazardous wastes there. Mr. Bishop has said there is mounting evidence that veterans may be ill—and some might have died—as a result of exposure to the dangerous toxins produced by the burn pits.

“This is a significant victory for the health of our troops and veterans,” Mr. Bishop said in a press release issued by his office last week. “We should not continue to recklessly use open burn pits to dispose of hazardous waste across Iraq and Afghanistan. Our troops should be free to focus on fighting the enemy without worrying how their lives may be further endangered by breathing in toxic air from their own bases.”

Symptoms include chronic bronchitis, asthma, sleep apnea, chronic coughs, and allergy-like symptoms while some others have cited heart problems, lymphoma, and leukemia.

To date, the Department of Defense has maintained that burn pits pose no long-term health risks, according to Mr. Bishop’s press release, but “Agent Orange and Persian Gulf Syndrome have taught us that we must be vigilant in monitoring and treating our veterans long after they have returned from the battlefield.”

The act will:

Prohibit the use of burn pits for hazardous and medical waste except if the Secretary of Defense sees no alternative.

Require the Department of Defense to report to the congressional oversight committees whenever burn pits are used and justify their use, and every six months to report on their status.

Require DOD to develop a plan for alternatives, in order to eliminate the use of burn pits; further, DOD must report to Congress how and why they use burn pits and what they burn in them.

Require DOD to assess existing medical surveillance programs of burn pits exposure and make recommendations to improve them.

Require DOD to do a study of the effects of burning plastics in open pits and evaluate the feasibility of prohibiting the burning of plastics.

Mr. Bishop said the issue of the toxic pits was brought to his attention by a member of his veterans advisory board. Hazardous materials, including human waste, medical waste, plastic bottles, and amputated limbs, were burned in the open-air pits with aviation fluid as fuel, exposing military personnel to extremely harmful chemicals and toxins, he said.

The congressman has said the use of open-air pits was a “quick and cheap” alternative to purchasing the proper incinerators to dispose of waste.

Jennifer L. Henn

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"BIG DEAL" The important headline about this BUM should be, BISHOP VOTES YEA TO THE RUINING OF AMERICA. He has got to underatand what a NAY vote is come the end of his term.
It is hard enough for east end small business to deal with NYS tax especially the MTA, they do not need to support this healthcare bill. BISHOP HAS TO GO!!!
By kpjc (161), east quogue on Nov 9, 09 3:59 PM
Did you even read the article before you started to spew? Keeping troops alive and healthy IS a big deal!
By SusieD (115), Southampton on Nov 10, 09 1:05 PM
This is a bill about supporting the health and welfare of our troops. God Bless Tim Bishop for supporting this bill and our men and women fighting overseas.
Keep up the good work Congressman Bishop!
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Nov 9, 09 7:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you Tim for looking out for out troops.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Nov 10, 09 9:33 AM
Cap and trade, porkilus bill, health care reorm, TARP, voted against the troop surge (which worked). This guy is a bum and needs to be voted out however you can't fault him for wanting to do more for our troops. These guys are out there every day putting there butts on the line to defend our freedom. I think most Americans will agree we do not do enough
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Nov 12, 09 7:01 AM
The surge "worked"? Oh yeah, that's right, it ended the war in - oops, maybe not.
By yearrounder (208), Southampton on Nov 12, 09 9:17 AM
Yes , let's keep our troops safe. I have a nephew in the Corp. Semper Fi !
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Nov 12, 09 9:24 AM
The ignorance and buffoonery written here by partisan hacks is astounding. It is perfectly fine to disagree with the public official -- even when the information cited is grossly wrong -- but to denigrate and disrespect another human being in the manner these clowns do -- well, they reveal themselves and their own low class way of living. Thank you Mr Congressman for standing up for the veteran and for working to bring reasonably priced health care to Long Islanders.
By JimmyKBond (156), Hampton Bays on Nov 12, 09 10:24 AM
1 member liked this comment
Wow, he's really trying now that a new election is around the corner!!!
It should be commended that this is a good thing for our troops---BUT---we will never forget the other votes you made to put our troops and country in harms way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Nov 21, 09 6:50 AM