"On some days, Russell Keith could simply look up at the sky to gauge how busy his day would be as a paramedic at the largest U.S. base in Iraq.
Dark green smoke meant the contractor could count on a 30 to 40 percent spike in his patient load, he told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee last week during a hearing on contractor oversight.
Keith never knew which substance -- medical waste, body fluids, batteries, plastic or tires -- that would sometimes be set alight with jet fuel and cause the dark, acrid smoke pouring from the sprawling, 10-acre burn pit to turn green. But he did know that patients complaining of burning throats, eyes and painful breathing would fill the infirmary on those days."
Dina Fine Maron reports for Greenwire in the New York Times November 11, 2009.