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£50million compensation for RAF heroes exposed to toxic chemicals

THIRTEEN RAF servicemen who say they were exposed to toxic chemicals in Iraq are in line for £50million in compensation.

By Robert Kellaway/Published 1st September 2013

Their case will reach a crucial stage on Tuesday when American judges will decide whether their claim can go to trial.

The servicemen were guarding a ­water treatment plant for US defence giant KBR, which was allegedly ­contaminated with hexavalent ­chromium.

The highly toxic chemical – ­highlighted in the movie Erin ­Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts – was part of an anti-rust agent that lay around the site.

The RAF Regiment ­soldiers stood guard for five months at the ­Qarmat Ali plant near Basra between May and October 2003.

They served alongside 150 US National Guardsmen, 12 of whom sued KBR in Oregon last year, ­winning compensation of £4million each in a landmark case.

KBR has appealed against that Federal Court ruling.

Former RAF Regt sergeant Andy Tosh, 47, who has respiratory disease, suffered rashes and saw comrades with nosebleeds while they guarded the plant.

Mr Tosh, of Bracebridge Heath, Lincs, said: “People have died because of exposure to toxic chemicals at that site.

“KBR have been found guilty of putting people at risk. Finally we may get justice and the truth coming out.

“It’s not about the money. It’s more about ensuring a duty of care. You join the military to fight ­overseas for your country then ­discover a friendly ­contractor has ­hidden something.”

He said he first noticed something was wrong in Iraq when he broke out in a severe rash on his forearms.

“A week later KBR staff turned up in protective suits with respirators and masks and started hammering in signs with skull and crossbones on them,” he added.

His US lawyer Michael Doyle said: “KBR’s position appears to be that it has immunity from the courts because it was working under the direction of the US ­military.

“The company is also arguing that all legal costs and damages it incurs ought to be met by the American taxpayer.

“I don’t buy that. A ­Federal Court judge did not buy that.

“We will find out ­whether the Appeal Court on ­Tuesday buys that. If not, the case will proceed.”

He added: “The ruling in Oregon last November was extremely ­encouraging.”

A spokesman for KBR said: “This is a case arising out of wartime combat ­activities in a foreign war zone ­controlled by the US military.

“US courts do not have jurisdiction and are not allowed to second-guess US military and foreign policy decisions.

“If this and similar lawsuits are ­allowed to continue, contractors may be deterred from providing the essential services on which the military depends.”



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Posted by Jeff Raizner on Sep 3 2013. Filed under Blog, British Troops, KBR Lawsuits, News Coverage, Qarmat Ali Case Update, Qarmat Ali News, Sodium Dichromate & Hexavalent Chromium. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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