Over the course of the war in Iraq, the country has accumulated a substantial amount of waste that has the potential to affect not only the environment, but the Iraqi people and U.S. forces on the ground as well.

Two hazardous waste treatment centers, one at Camp Al Asad and one at Camp Speicher, were created for the sole purpose of reducing and disposing this type of waste.

Waste is described as hazardous when it poses a potential threat to the public health and/or environment because of its quantity or characteristics. These threats include pollution, impairment or injury, or causing death.

According to Gary Alicandro and Brad Banker, site managers for the hazardous waste treatment centers, an estimated 47 million pounds of waste from all over the Iraqi joint operations area have been treated since the facilities have been in operation. Since April 2010, the centers have processed over 15 million pounds and are currently processing an average of 75,000 pounds per week.

Both facilities were constructed to dispose of and treat millions of pounds of waste that have been collected since the outset of the war, said Alicandro.

The treatment centers receive and treat different types of waste such as engine oil filters, batteries, fire extinguishers, pesticides, asbestoscontaining materials, classified items and
other dangerous products. All of these items must be disposed of in accordance with their individual properties.

To accommodate these requirements, numerous sections were developed within the centers based on the specific types of waste. Incinerator, oil filter, metal shredding, and compressed gas
cylinder degassing operations are some examples of sections.

Not all waste has to be disposed of, some items can be repurposed, which requires the active support of end-users.

As the transition and transfer of bases to the government of Iraq continue, Alicandro and Banker are reminding bases throughout Iraq that the timely turn-in of waste and excess chemicals will maximize the opportunities for reuse and recycling of the various materials.

The treatment centers are providing an example of a responsible way to dispose of hazardous waste, said Banker. They could provide an effective means for Iraq to take steps toward developing their own environmental protection laws and regulations.

Service members can do their part to reduce hazardous waste and improve recycling efforts by
ensuring all military-specific items are turned in. Using the proper supply system or supply support
activity to turn in excess, unused hazardous material will help as U.S. forces draw down.

"The hazardous waste treatment centers are a cost-effective and responsible solution for treatment and disposal of the waste generated during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New
Dawn," said Mr. Richard Isaac, chief of environmental section for United States Forces - Iraq.
"The responsible handling and disposal of hazardous waste protects the health and environment of
U.S. personnel and the people of Iraq."