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Evidently KBR bold face lied about knowing of the chemical hazards at Qarmat Ali!

KBR knew of exposure of Oregon soldiers to cancer-causing hexavalent chromium in Iraq

Julie Sullivan – November 11, 2010 – Documents exchanged in an Oregon lawsuit suggest that Kellogg, Brown and Root managers had medical tests proving workers at an Iraqi water treatment plant had “significant exposure” to a cancer-causing chemical, and managers worried about KBR’s liability as a result.

The minutes of an Oct. 2, 2003 meeting about blood and urine tests from workers at the Qarmat Ali plant contradicts KBR’s long-standing claims that there was no medical evidence of harm. The documents also indicate KBR’s top health, safety and environmental manager knew plant workers continued to use the toxic chemical long after health alarms were raised. While piles of the corrosion fighter containing hexavalent chromium blew in the desert wind, the workers inside mixing the material wore gas masks.

Hundreds of National Guard soldiers were deployed early in the Iraqi war to guard the civilian contractors. Thirty four Oregon Guard soldiers were among those who didn’t know the orange dust was dangerous and have sued KBR. They claim they now suffer breathing, skin and stomach problems and face greater risk of cancer. Last month, the Oregon soldiers added Halliburton to the suit. KBR was a subsidiary of the oil and construction giant at the time. The suit claims Halliburton employees oversaw part of the industrial process under KBR’s billion dollar no-bid contract to restore Iraqi oil.

KBR has denied any wrongdoing and stated there is no proof of health problems from exposure to hexavalent chromium at Qarmat Ali. According to a company statement, KBR acted quickly to notify the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and posted signs warning of the danger and eventually paved over the site.

KBR spokeswoman Heather Browne said she could not comment further without seeing the latest disclosure.

Details of the 2003 meeting in Iraq are among thousands of documents gathered in the case being tried in federal court in Portland. In a separate case, soldiers from Indiana, West Virginia and Great Britain have filed suit in Texas.

The Oregon soldiers were on the ground daily at Qarmat Ali from May to June 2003 while Indiana soldiers arrived later that summer. At the plant there were 15 KBR employees, 200 workers and 200 people from nearby villagers along with hundreds of soldiers who rotated through in small teams.

The October 2003 meeting between KBR manager Chuck Adams, an Army Corps of Engineers safety manager, and Iraqis from the Iraq Southern Oil Company indicate the managers learned about hexavalent chromium while the Oregon soldiers were guarding the plant — in May.

In notes from the meeting, Adams said that “around July” managers realized the rust-fighter containing hexavalent chromium was “basically open to the atmosphere, scattered all over the water treatment plant.” Adams also noted it had been “banned in the USA, no longer used for water injection.”

According to the minutes, Adams also said they “cannot allow personnel to be exposed, the company will be liable if let this happen.

“We are also concerned about the public that is exposed” and that the chemical “is presenting a problem to the village, not only personnel.”

Iraqi managers said they wanted to “get over this chemical issue and continue working.”

KBR did encourage the Iraqis to stop using the rust fighter.

The Oregon lawsuit is inching forward even as KBR has asked U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for an early review of whether the federal court in Portland has jurisdiction due to matters of widespread legal and national security questions.

Most of the soldiers did not learn of their exposure until five years after their service. The Department of Veteran Affairs has established a Qarmat Ali registry due to the efforts of Oregon lawmakers. (Click HERE for original article)


Ms Sparky

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Posted by on Nov 13 2010. Filed under National Media, News Coverage. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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