The waste is comprised of the Pentagon’s discarded contents from bullets, chemical makings from bombs, and raw explosives — all used or left over from the manufacture and testing of weapons ingredients. They are doused with fuel and lit on fire, igniting infernos that can be seen more than a half a mile away. This waste contains health hazards, such as lead, mercury, chromium and compounds like nitroglycerin and perchlorate. This handling of waste has poisoned millions of acres, and affected tens of thousands of residents in surrounding towns. And, this waste handling, referred to as "open burns", goes on at least 51 Pentagon sites. It affects schools, water supplies and homes. The EPA estimates that 40,000,000 acres of land has been contaminated by the Pentagon or its contractors in the U.S.
Congress had looked at the open burns situation in the 1980s and banned the practice except that it gave the Pentagon a temporary reprieve from the law. The Pentagon has a strange definition of 'temporary'.