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American court ruling gives fresh hope to seven RAF men in Iraq ‘poison’ claim

By TOM KELLY

  • US troops awarded £4.4m in damages
  • Exposed to agent which damages lungs and kidneys
  • Now seven RAF men may make similar claim
  • A court ruling has given fresh hope to seven RAF gunners suing a company that allegedly made them ill by exposing them to a toxic chemical in Iraq.

    A US jury found the Texas-based defence contractor KBR was negligent in exposing 12 American troops to hexavalent chromium, which can cause cancer and severe lung, liver and kidney damage.

    The soldiers, who were each awarded £4.4million in damages, were guarding the Qarmat Ali water plant near Basra where the chemical was used in work being carried out by KBR in 2003.

    Their lawyer Mike Doyle said the verdict in Portland, Oregon, was important for the British servicemen, who were also involved in guarding the plant and are suing the firm in a separate case.

    He added: ‘KBR is being held accountable at last for putting profits above the welfare of the soldiers.’

    The RAF gunners claim they were left unprotected against the chemical even though KBR managers knew about its presence for ‘months and months’.

    Their lawsuit, filed in the West Virginia federal court, says: ‘KBR managers disregarded and downplayed the extreme danger of wholesale site contamination.’

    Bags of sodium dichromate – which contains hexavalent chromium, used as an anti-corrosive in pipes – were ripped open, allowing the substance to spread across the plant and into the air.

    When servicemen at the site began to get nosebleeds – a symptom of hexavalent chromium poisoning known as ‘chrome nose’ – KBR managers allegedly blamed it on the ‘dry desert air’ or claimed they were ‘allergic to sand’.

    Former RAF sergeant Andrew Tosh, 45, from Lincoln, who did numerous 24-hour shifts at the water plant when he was deployed to Iraq in May 2003 with 26 Squadron RAF Regiment, said he still suffers from skin rashes and prolonged chest infections that started while he was there.

    ‘The chemical swirled around after being blown out of split sacks by the wind. It was everywhere,’ said the father of two, a 23-year veteran of the RAF.

    ‘We were living in it, breathing it and sleeping in it. It was in our food and water.’

    John Caunt, 35, from Sutton-in-Ashfield near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, said: ‘I’m terrified of contracting a serious disease and not being able to support my family. The fear hangs over me all the time.’

    Their lawsuit is expected to be heard next year.

    KBR denies the allegations and is expected to appeal against the first verdict.

    The company’s lawyer, Geoffrey Harrison, said: ‘KBR did safe, professional and exceptional work in Iraq under difficult circumstances.’

     

     

    Short URL: http://kbrlitigation.com/?p=2637

    Posted by Jeff Raizner on Jan 2 2013. Filed under British Troops, KBR Lawsuits, News Coverage, Qamat Ali Overview, Qarmat Ali Blog, 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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