U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter visited a constituent business Monday that fits right into one of her pet issues: toxic burn pits in war zones.
She liked what she saw on her visit to Cocoon Inc., a North Hampton defense contractor specializing in the creation of material to, as company president Chip Crotty put it, “protect high value assets from the elements.”
One of the items that especially intrigued the Democratic lawmaker from the 1st Congressional District was headgear designed to filter out sand and pollutants from the air that soldiers breathe.
The issue of airborne pollutants has been near and dear to Shea-Porter in her current and previous stints in Congress going back to 2009..
Of particular concern to Shea-Porter has been the pollutants emanating from so-called burn pits -- open areas in Afghanistan and Iraq used to burn everything from normal trash to toxic waste.
“When I say trash I don’t mean just household trash,” Shea-Porter said Monday during the Cocoon visit. “I mean really dangerous, toxic chemicals that if you threw out in your backyard and set on fire in this country you’d be prosecuted and you’d be jailed.”
In June, the House Armed Services Committee agreed to an amendment offered by Shea-Porter that would expand the list of prohibited waste in open-air burn pits to include toxic material such as munitions, asbestos, tires, mercury, batteries, aerosol cans, and other waste.
The amendment then became part of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which also passed the full House with bipartisan support on June 14.
When she spoke in support of her amendment during the debate, she said, “For eight long years, the Department of Defense continued the burning of noxious and toxic wastes that endangered the health of all personnel stationed at our bases in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
She added: “Massive quantities of these substances were burned: tires; batteries; treated wood; plastics; munitions and explosives; compressed gas cylinders; fuel containers; aerosol cans, polychlorinated biphenyls; asbestos; mercury; foam tent material; petroleum, oils, and lubricants (except for fuel for initial combustion)…No one here would allow our families to be exposed to such dangerous materials and poisons on a daily basis. So why would we allow our troops and other base personnel to be exposed? They too deserve our support and protection.”
Added protection could come in the form of the headgear being developed by Cocoon, conceived by Cotty after a visit to Afghanistan.
“I was in the theatre and saw the problem and thought I could solve it,” he said of the product that is in its development stage.
Among the other materials developed by Cocoon are fabric hangers for aircraft and protective covers for military equipment in war zones.
To see some of the information and statements generated by Shea-Porter’s office relative to burn pits click here.