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Home» Blog » Qarmat Ali Litigation Spurs Legislative Action to End or Limit Contractors’ Indemnity Deals

Qarmat Ali Litigation Spurs Legislative Action to End or Limit Contractors’ Indemnity Deals

By Amanda Halter

The National Guardsmen who are standing up to KBR in their lawsuits against the private military contractor for exposing them to sodium dichromate contamination at the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant in Iraq in 2003 are inspiring real action.  United States Representatives Earl Blumenaur and Kurt Shrader and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley from Oregon have introduced legislation in both houses that would revoke contractual immunity for private military contractors’ misconduct and limit any such immunity in future agreements.

Several Oregon National Guardsman, among others, were exposed to dangerous levels of the known carcinogen sodium dichromate at Qarmat Ali, an Iraqi water treatment facility that KBR was paid handsomely by the United States to refurbish in 2003 as part of Project Restore Iraqi Oil (“RIO”).  KBR hid, downplayed, and may have even exacerbated the contamination.  Two soldiers have passed away due to chemical poisoning, and several others have been sickened.

Even though KBR’s profits for its work at Qarmat Ali were funded by taxpayers, a KBR attorney’s testimony in the litigation revealed that KBR’s deal was still sweeter – the KBR attorney even managed to squeeze out a secret agreement with the United States that would make taxpayers liable for deaths, injuries and property damage caused by KBR.

Efforts to get the whole truth about KBR’s sweetheart deal to put taxpayers on the hook for its own misconduct are ongoing.  But the proposed legislation by the Oregon delegation represents significant action on behalf of the soldiers who served at Qarmat Ali and American taxpayers.

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