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Guard Chemical Exposure Testimony to Senator on KBR Case

West Virginia National Guard Testify to Senate of Chemical Exposure at Water Treatment Plant at Qarmat Ali, Iraq.

This article was originally published by Staff Sgr. Jim Greenhill on the Official Homepage of the United States Army website,

Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill

Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 4, 2009) — Three former National Guard members told a Senate committee Monday they were exposed to a deadly chemical with long-term health effects while serving in Iraq.

Russell Powell, a former West Virginia Army National Guard staff sergeant; Rocky Bixby, a former Oregon Army National Guard staff sergeant; and Russell Kimberling, a former Indiana Army National Guard infantry company commander, are among hundreds of Guard members who were notified in letters earlier this year that they were exposed to sodium dichromate.

The toxic carcinogen was spread across a ruined water-injection facility in Qarmat Ali, Iraq, when the Soldiers were there in the spring and summer of 2003, they said in testimony before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

Among those who listened to the Soldiers’ testimony Monday was Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, and senators who represent the states where the Guard members served.

Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, where up to 142 Guard members were affected by the Qarmat Ali exposure, has authored legislation to improve medical care for service members exposed to toxic chemicals during wartime service.

The “Health Care for Members of the Armed Forces Exposed to Chemical Hazards Act of 2009” is cosponsored by Sens. Robert Byrd, Richard Lugar, John Rockefeller, Byron Dorgan, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.

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