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Mystery lung illness affecting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 27, 2012

Due to the large number of contractors contacting us about Lung problems after working in Iraq and Afghanistan we’ll be investigating and posting all information we can find on this topic.  Please forward any information you may have to dbacasualty@yahoo.com.

Channel 4 News from August 2011

US soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with an apparently untreatable and incurable lung disease are being dismissed as out of shape because tests appear normal, writes Sarah Jones.

A civilian physician who has diagnosed more than 50 soldiers with constrictive bronchiolitis says the life-altering disease is linked to service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dr Robert Miller, of Vanderbilt University, says: “This scarring of the small airways in the lungs is common in people who have had bone marrow transplants or lung transplant rejection not people who have passed military fitness exams.

I get shortness of breath and painful burning in my lungs after running just a quarter of a mile, I can’t run any more Dr Sylvia Waters

“What we can say is that this disorder is linked to service in the Middle East. But we haven’t been able to definitively link what the cause is for the black lacy pigment. It’s something that’s inhaled that shouldn’t be there.”

Last month the New England Journal of Medicine published a study by Dr Miller and colleagues which documented the condition of soldiers who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and were diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis.

However, their analysis doesn’t reveal how common the condition is in troops or positively identify the cause of constrictive bronchiolitis in troops.

‘Black lacy pigmentation’

The diagnoses were made after lung biopsies. At least half the soldiers have left the service with a disability rating making them eligible to receive anywhere between $123 to over $3,100 per month depending on the level of their disability and number of dependents.

In certain instances the Department of Veterans Affairs recognises a link between the disorder and service. But compensation is based on pulmonary function testing (PFT) and soldiers with constrictive bronchiolitis have normal PFT results despite having scarring of the airways, black lacy pigment in their lungs and severe exercise limitations.

A further complication is that deployed troops do not receive pre- and post-deployment pulmonary function tests that could help doctors know the extent of lung damage.

Dr Sylvia Waters serves in the US army and is a practicing anaesthetist. She used to run every day but after serving in Iraq she had to give up her passion.

“After a six-month tour in Mosul, Iraq I get shortness of breath and an excruciating burning in my lungs after running just a quarter of a mile. I can’t run any more.”

Army physicians tried routine tests including X-rays, pulmonary function tests and chest CT scans. They tried inhalers and steroid treatments but nothing worked and all tests results kept coming back normal.

At times, Dr Waters says she doubted herself: “I felt like I was going crazy because all these physicians kept telling me everything was coming back negative.

“It was only the fact that I was a physician and I knew other doctors that I even got diagnosed because I don’t know how else I would have done it.”

Please read the entire story here

 

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Iraq, Toxic Exposures, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Burn Pits Claims

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 4, 2012

Breathing dust, fumes and other and other toxic substances, exposed troops deployed overseas, and those who worked for government contractors abroad and other civilians, to a serious hazards. Some of the chemicals were very toxic carcinogens and are deadly.

At US Senate hearings it was revealed that the toxic carcinogen, Sodium Dichromate (CAS 10588-01-9), was spread across a ruined water-injection facility in Qarmat Ali, Iraq, when the soldiers were there in the spring and summer of 2003. Thousands of individuals may have been exposed.

A simple evaluation may assist in assessing your exposure and disease which includes: a history which characterized the exposure and preexisting medical conditions of each individual exposed; a physical exam that identified any findings potentially related to a chromium exposure, and medical tests including blood, urine, chest X-ray, and a breathing test (called a pulmonary function test).

An exposure to this chemical may produce:

  • Chronic health effects
  • Lung and throat cancer
  • Blisters and deep ulcers
  • Damage to the septum
  • Skin allergy
  • Asthma-like allergy
  • Kidney damage.

As a supporter for the improved health and welfare of individuals against hazardous occupational and environmental exposures, Jon L. Gelman advocates for changes in safety standards and safer use of chemicals. If you have been exposed to burn pit dust, smoke or fumes or Sodium Dichromate, contact Jon Gelman via e-mail or call +1 973-696-7900.

Please see the list of known Burn Pit locations here

Posted in Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Department of Labor, Iraq, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Toxic Exposures, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

$85 million awarded to 12 Oregon soldiers; KBR guilty of negligence, not fraud

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 2, 2012

Oregon Live  November 2, 1012

A Portland jury found defense contractor KBR Inc. was negligent, but did not commit fraud against a dozen Oregon Army National Guard soldiers who sued the company for its conduct in Iraq nine years ago. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak announced the decision about 3:35 p.m. the U.S. Courthouse in Portland. Each soldier was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and $6.25 million in punitive damages.

“It’s a little bit of justice,” said Guard veteran Jason Arnold, moments after the verdict was announced Friday afternoon. Arnold was one of four of the soldier-plaintiffs in the courtroom was the verdict was read.

The verdict should send an important message to those who rely on military troops, he said.

“We’re not disposable,” said another soldier, Aaron St. Clair. “People are not going to make money from our blood.”

KBR’s lead attorney, Geoffrey Harrison, said the company will appeal.

“We will appeal the jury’s incorrect verdict,” he said. “We believe the trial court should have dismissed the case before the trial.”

Harrison said the soldiers’ lawyers produced a medical expert, Dr. Arch Carson, who offered “unsupported, untested medical opinions” that each soldier had suffered invisible, cellular-level injuries as a result of their exposure to hexavalent chromium.

The verdict means the jury did not hear clear and convincing evidence that KBR intended to deceive the soldiers in the way it operated at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant, near Basra, Iraq. But they did find that the company failed to meet its obligations in managing the work at the plant.

Friday’s verdict closes the first phase of a web of litigation between National Guard and British troops against KBR Inc., the defense contractor they accuse of knowingly exposing them in 2003 to a carcinogen at Qarmat Ali. KBR has denied the accusations.

In Oregon another set of Oregon soldiers are waiting in the wings for their day in court. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak and the attorneys agreed earlier to hold an initial trial with the first 12 soldiers, in order to keep the proceedings from becoming too unwieldy. A second trial, featuring all or some of the remaining 21 plaintiffs, could begin in federal court in Portland this winter.

Another lawsuit brought by Indiana soldiers against KBR is on hold in federal court in Texas, while an appeals court considers a jurisdictional issue.

The cases stem from the chaotic aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The Army Corps of Engineers hired KBR Inc. to run a massive program called Restore Iraqi Oil. The program involved dozens of sites throughout Iraq — sites that neither the Army nor KBR had visited before the invasion. The project was intended to quickly restore the flow of Iraq’s oil, partly to fund the war. The Pentagon remembered the way Saddam Hussein had lit the fields on fire during the first Gulf War, and feared a repeat in 2003.

Qarmat Ali was a compound where water was pumped underground to drive oil to the surface elsewhere. For decades, Iraqis had treated the water with sodium dichromate, an anticorrosion agent that contains hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen. (Sodium dichromate is banned in the United States.)

Iraq’s Southern Oil Co. took delivery of sodium dichromate, an orange-yellow crystalline powder, in bags that were stored on site. Soldiers and others testified that the material was loose and drifting around the site, and had contaminated areas even outside the chemical injection building where it was added to the water.

How contaminated was it? Accounts differ. Even one of the plaintiffs in this case said he didn’t notice any soil discoloration. One of the British soldiers whose testimony was prerecorded said it was everywhere. Another Oregon soldier said it settled heavily on the clothing of the soldiers, who unwittingly carried it back to their camps over the border in Kuwait.

Much of KBR’s defense in the first Oregon trial focused on just how unlikely it was that any soldier — who visited the plant at durations from one day to 21 days — could have been exposed to dangerously high levels of sodium dichromate. But one of the most gripping portions of the testimony was when Oregon veteran Larry Roberta described eating a chicken patty that had been coated with the orange crystals, which he said immediately burned in his esophagus, causing him to vomit.

Roberta now is confined to a wheelchair and takes oxygen from a tank in his backpack. He had a history of gastrointestinal issues, but attributes much of his poor health to his time at Qarmat Ali.

Harrison, KBR’s lawyer, said the company “believes in the judicial process and respects the efforts and time of the jurors,” but believes the process that brought the case to conclusion Friday shouldn’t have been allowed to come so far.

“KBR did safe and exceptional work in Iraq under difficult circumstances,” he said in a brief, prepared statement. “We believe the facts and law ultimately will provide vindication.”

Soldier-plaintiff Arnold said the message of the verdict is unmistakable. He said service members are being exploited “to this day.”

Now, he said, “the voice will be out. There will be a lot more scrutiny.”

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Cancer, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, Iraq, KBR, Toxic Exposures, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Burn, Baby !, Burn !

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 4, 2012

Remember when rioters in Watts, Calif., began shouting “Burn, Baby! BURN!” in the turmoil of 1965? I’m sure they didn’t have the following future in mind.

That would be the various lawsuits against KBR for operating burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we should all be paying attention to this and not just for the human toll it has taken on soldiers and contractors. It also says something disturbing about the ability of the federal government to exercise proper control over its private contractors.

by David Isenberg at Huffington Post  September 4, 2012

An article, “Military Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan: Considerations and Obstacles for Emerging Litigation” by Kate Donovan Kurera, in the Fall 2010 issue of the Pace Environmental Law Review provides the necessary insight.

For those who haven’t been paying attention the last four years the background goes thusly:

Burn pits have been relied on heavily as a waste disposal method at military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of United States military presence in these countries in 2001 and 2003, respectively. Little attention was paid to the pits in Iraq and Afghanistan until Joshua Eller, a computer technician deployed in Iraq, filed suit in 2008 against KBR for negligently exposing thousands of soldiers, former KBR employees, and civilians to unsafe conditions due to “faulty waste disposal systems.” Eller and a group of more than two hundred plaintiffs returning from their tours of duty, attribute chronic illnesses, disease, and even death to exposure to thick black and green toxic burn pit smoke that descended into their living quarters and interfered with military operations.

The plaintiffs assert that they witnessed batteries, plastics, biohazard materials, solvents, asbestos, chemical and medical wastes, items doused with diesel fuel, and even human remains being dumped into open burn pits. Defense Department officials say this waste stream contained items now prohibited pursuant to revised guidelines. Plaintiffs contend that KBR breached these contracts by negligently operating burn pits.

As of August 2010 there were an estimated two hundred and fifty one burns pits operating in Afghanistan and twenty two in Iraq. The most attention has focused on the burn pit operating at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, which was suspected of burning two hundred and forty tons of waste a day at peak operation

While the health impact of the pits is what the media focuses on, Kurera sees even more important legal issues: She writes:  Please read the entire article here

Posted in ACE, Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Burn Pits, Cancer, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Exclusive Remedy, Iraq, KBR, Misjudgements, Political Watch, Toxic Exposures, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Burn Pit Lung Condition Added to Social Security List of Compassionate Allowances

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 12, 2012

Jon Gelmans Workers Compensation Blog  August 11, 2012

The Social Security Administration has added to its list of compassionate allowances a pulmonary condition that has been identified as arising out of exposures to burn pits fumes and dusts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The pulmonary disease, constrictive bronchiolitis, is also called obliterative bronchiolitis or bronchiolitis obliterates. Medical research has been identified the medical condition as being causally related to exposures to dust and fumes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Compassionate Allowances (CAL) are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate Allowances allow Social Security to target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that we can obtain quickly. Compassionate Allowances is not a separate program from the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs.”

Click here to read more about burn pit claims for benefits and lawsuits.
Click here to request further information

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Department of Labor, Iraq, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Toxic Exposures, Veterans, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mesothelioma, Toxic Exposures, Veterans and Civilian Contractors

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 9, 2012

Mesothelioma and Veterans,  Civilian Contractors

Guest Post By Douglas Karr    August 9, 2012

Military members are exposed to plenty of risks that the average person would never have to deal with. In addition to the traditional dangers faced by military personnel, they are also at a higher risk for exposure to harmful substances. This is why military veterans need to be conscious of their risk for developing mesothelioma. This dangerous and rare cancer is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Most people never come into contact with asbestos. Veterans have more exposure, especially when they go abroad. A veteran needs to keep an eye out for symptoms in order to catch the problem early.

Exposure Through Overseas Deployment
Veterans are at much higher risk of mesothelioma when they are sent overseas. This is especially true in the age of urban warfare. Asbestos can most often be found in older buildings. Though most American buildings have been purged of the substance, this is not the case with many older buildings in places like Iraq. In urban warfare, these older buildings are often destroyed in firefights and air attacks. When that happens, the asbestos can make its way into the air, causing damage for any person who is forced to breathe it in.

The big danger for veterans in these areas is that they often do not know that they’ve been exposed. If you are simply walking through the streets of Iraq, you have no way of knowing what things you are breathing in. This can produce a significant risk. Those individuals who have served their country in Iraq should keep their eye out for the earliest signs of the disease. Though it is rare and most people will not develop mesothelioma, it is worth considering. Even short periods of exposure can be harmful in many instances.

The Military Functions That Bring About Asbestos Exposure
Not all military personnel are at the same level of risk. As veterans can attest, the military employs many different kinds of professionals. Not every person is out fighting on the front lines. Some people are directed with destroying buildings, while others are involved in construction. In the past, people have done milling or mining. These are jobs and functions that bring about much more risk. A report from the Department of Veterans Affairs confirms this heightened level of risk. That report indicates that any individual who has been involved in these special functions should be on the lookout for difficulties.

Understanding What Mesothelioma is All About
A veteran who is concerned about exposure should understand what to look for. It is a debilitating form of cancer that can move quickly. At its core, the cancer works on the chest and respiratory system. It can cause pain in that area and it can cause shortness of breath. People who notice intense amounts of pain or any blood in their mucus should be wary. It is important to catch this cancer at its earliest stages because it has a tendency to take hold in a hurry.

Posted in ACE, Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Department of Labor, Iraq, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Toxic Exposures, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dan Hoagland’s Death Sentence at the hands of AIG’s Overly Zealous Defense

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 4, 2012

Injured War Zone Contractor Dan Hoagland shares his story of medical treatment denied  by KBR/AIG resulting in a death sentence by Cancer with Sean Calleb.

Scott Bloch, Defense Base Act Attorney tells the truth about the Defense Base Act Insurance Scandal and our Defense Base Act Class Action Lawsuit.

Join our Defense Base Act Class Action Lawsuit here

Posted in AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Cancer, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Attorneys, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Delay, Deny, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Hope that I die, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors, Iraq, KBR, Misjudgements | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Diesel exhaust fumes cause cancer, WHO says

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 12, 2012

Christopher Portier, chairman of the IARC working Group, said the group’s conclusion “was unanimous – that diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in humans”.

LONDON (Reuters) –  June 12, 2012

Diesel engine exhaust fumes cause cancer in humans and belong in the same potentially deadly category as asbestos, arsenic and mustard gas, World Health Organisation (WHO) experts said on Tuesday.

The experts, who said their findings were unanimous and based on “compelling” scientific evidence, urged people across the world to reduce their exposure to diesel fumes wherever possible.

In an announcement likely to cause consternation among car and truck makers, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the WHO’s cancer department, reclassified diesel exhausts from its group 2A of probable carcinogens to its group 1 of substances that have definite links to cancer.

“The (expert) working group found that diesel exhaust is a cause of lung cancer and also noted a positive association with an increased risk of bladder cancer,” it said in a statement.

Posted in Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Defense Department Inspector General says KBR and the military failed to respond quickly to health risks posed to Oregon soldiers

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 28, 2011

The Oregonian   September 28, 2011

The Defense Department and contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root failed to act as quickly as they should have to protect those exposed to a carcinogenic chemical at an Iraqi water treatment plant in 2003, according to a report Wednesday by the Defense Department’s Inspector General.

The report was hailed as a victory for Oregon soldiers by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who was one of a group of senators who sought the IG’s evaluation, and by Oregon National Guard troops who are among those suing KBR. They accuse the contractor of knowingly exposing them to sodium dichromate, an anticorrosive compound that can cause skin and breathing problems and cancer.

Because KBR “did not fully comply with occupational safety and health standards required” under its contract with the Army, the Inspector General found, “a greater number of Service members and DoD civilian employees were exposed to sodium dichromate, and for longer periods, increasing the potential for chronic health effects.”

The report found that “nearly 1,000 Army soldiers and civilian employees were exposed to the compound in the five months it took from the initial site visit until the military command required personal protective equipment.

Please read more here

Posted in Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Iraq, KBR, Political Watch, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Iraq veteran is cancer ‘timebomb’

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 21, 2011

Published on Thursday 21 July 2011 10:30 at Chad UK

AN Iraq War veteran from Skegby has spoken of his fear he may develop cancer as a result of the deadly chemicals he was exposed to while serving in Basra.

Cpl Jon Caunt (35) undertook five tours of Iraq between 2003 and 2007 when he and other members of the RAF Regiment were exposed to a distinctive orange powder at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant.

British troops, who were working alongside US forces and staff from private contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), did not know the orange powder was in fact Sodium Dichromate, which contains a cancer-causing compound.

It is banned in many countries and had been used to stop pipes rusting.

The soldiers were responsible for restoring the plant so Iraqi people could resume oil production in a bid to rebuild their economy after the war – but they had no protection from the chemical and would often sleep on the ground surrounded by it.

Cpl Caunt said: “You have got to understand that we were breathing it in, we were firing in it and it was blown up by the wind – this stuff was everywhere.”

It was only when he was later contacted by Sgt Andy Tosh and underwent a medical examination in April this year that he became aware of the serious threat the exposure had to his health.

He said: “Until I went for the medical, I did not realise how serious it was. When I got the results back, I did not want to look at them.”

Cpl Caunt’s medical revealed he already had the symptoms of several diseases, including respiratory, stomach and skin diseases.

“I have had skin complaints for a while, but I just dismissed it and never really thought anything of it until this came up,” he said.

“I am still fit because I am still serving but I lose my breath a lot more than I used to. There are quite a few of the RAF Regiment lads who are ill and it’s down to the exposure.”

Cpl Caunt fears he could be a ‘cancer time bomb’.

“It could be next year or it could be in 10 years – let’s hope it never happens,” he said. “But it’s a worry I have got to live with I’m afraid

Please read the entire article at Chad UK

Posted in Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Iraq, KBR, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

OT: ProPublica Furious Growth and Cost Cuts Led To BP Accidents Past and Present

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 26, 2010

This is OT but there are so many similarities regarding Cover Ups and Safety and Compensation issues here not too mention that ProPublica deserves another nod

A ProPublica and PBS FRONTLINE investigation. “The Spill [1],” a PBS FRONTLINE documentary drawn from this reporting, airs tonight. Check local listings. [2]

Jeanne Pascal turned on her TV April 21 to see a towering spindle of black smoke slithering into the sky from an oil platform on the oceanic expanse of the Gulf of Mexico. For hours she sat, transfixed on an overstuffed couch in her Seattle home, her feelings shifting from shock to anger.

Pascal, a career Environmental Protection Agency attorney only seven weeks into her retirement, knew as much as anyone in the federal government about BP, the company that owned the well. She understood in an instant what it would take others months to grasp: In BP’s 15-year quest to compete with the world’s biggest oil companies, its managers had become deaf to risk and systematically gambled with safety at hundreds of facilities and with thousands of employees’ lives.

“God, they just don’t learn,” she remembers thinking.

Just weeks before the explosion, President Obama had announced a historic expansion of deep-water drilling in the Gulf, where BP held the majority of the drilling leases. The administration considered the environmental record of drilling companies in the Gulf to be excellent. It didn’t ask questions about BP, and it didn’t consider that the company’s long record of safety violations and environmental accidents might be important, according to Carol Browner, the White House environmental adviser.

They could have asked Jeanne Pascal.  Please read the entire story at ProPublica

Posted in Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Department of Labor, Follow the Money, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Senator Byron Dorgan Says DOD Response Still Falls Short on Sodium Dichromate Exposure

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 22, 2010

DORGAN: DOD IG REPORT CONFIRMS PENTAGON DROPPED THE BALL ON CHEMICAL EXPOSURE OF U.S. TROOPS IN IRAQ   See the video here

Read the IG Report here

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                            FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Friday                                                                                                                                      CONTACT: Barry E. Piatt

October 22, 2010                                                                                                                PHONE:   202-224-0577

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said Friday a preliminary report of an investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General confirms that the Pentagon dropped the ball in responding to the exposure of hundreds of U.S. troops to a deadly chemical in Iraq. Those failures left some exposed soldiers unaware that they had been exposed to the deadly chemical and without follow up health monitoring and treatment. Monitoring tests performed on other soldiers who were informed of their exposure were so inadequate that the agency that performed them now admits they have a “low level of confidence” in those tests.

A second and more detailed Inspector General’s report, originally scheduled to be released this month, has now been moved back to the end of the year, a development Dorgan said he finds “disappointing.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee and Dorgan requested IG investigations after he chaired hearings by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC), in June 2008 and August 2009. The hearings revealed that troops from Indiana, Oregon, South Carolina, and West Virginia were exposed to sodium dichromate, a known and highly potent carcinogen at the Qarmat Ali water treatment facility in Iraq. The DPC hearings revealed multiple failures by the contractor, KBR, and the Army’s failure to adequately monitor, test, and notify soldiers who may have been exposed of the health risks they may now face.

The IG is releasing two reports on its investigation, The first report was released in September. The second, expected to be a more detailed response to specific DPC concerns, was originally slated for release by late October. But the Department of Defense Inspector General now states a draft of that report won’t be available until the end of the year.

The first report provides no indication — seven years after the exposure – that the Army ever notified seven soldiers from the Army’s Third Infantry Division who secured the Qarmat Ali facility during hostilities that they had been exposed. It also confirms that the Army’s assessment of the health risks associated with exposure to sodium dichromate for soldiers at Qarmat Ali are not very reliable. In fact, the organization that performed these assessments, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine (CHPPM), now says it has a “low level of confidence” in its test results for the overwhelming majority of those exposed.

Equally troubling, Dorgan said, is the report’s finding that the Department of Defense is refusing to provide information to Congress about the incident, because of a lawsuit to which it is not a party.

“I am very concerned about the findings we now have, and I am disappointed in the delayed release of Part II of this report. The IG’s investigation and its findings are very important to the lives of U.S. soldiers and workers who were at the site. Details and definitive findings will help us ensure accountability for this exposure and flawed follow up, but even more importantly, they will help ensure that all exposed soldiers receive appropriate notice and medical attention,” Dorgan said.

Posted in Cancer, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Iraq, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Military using potentially harmful methods of burning trash

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 15, 2010

Washington (CNN) Military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to use waste methods that expose troops to potentially toxic emissions without fully understanding the effects, according to a new government audit obtained by CNN.

Between September 2009 and October 2010, investigators from the Government Accountability Office visited four bases in Iraq and reviewed planning documents on waste disposal for bases in Afghanistan. None of the Iraq bases visited were in compliance with military regulations. All four burned plastic — which generates harmful emissions — despite regulations against doing so.

The emissions have been the source of controversy as troops have complained about a host of problems, from cancerous tumors to respiratory issues, blaming exposure to burn pits. Military officials have denied any consequential effects on most troops.

The military, the report concluded, has been slow in using alternatives and has not considered the long-term costs of dealing with subsequent health issues.

The report is expected to be released later Friday.

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Cancer, Iraq | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Burn Pits Claims Against KBR and Halliburton can Continue

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 9, 2010

To paraphrase Yogi Berra it’s déjà vu all over again for KBR.

By David Isenberg at Huff Post

In my Aug. 31 post I wrote about a significant pro-veteran ruling in the Oregon KBR Qarmat Ali litigation. This is the case where Oregon National Guard troops allege KBR’s liability for negligence and for fraud arising out of plaintiffs’ exposure to sodium dichromate and resultanthexavalent chromium poisoning while assigned to duty at the Qarmat Ali water plant in 2003.

Paul Papak, the federal district judge rejected the motion by KBR and co-defendants to dismiss the suit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and rejected it.

I noted that the end result was that the “we were just following orders” defense is looking even lamer than ever.

Now it turns out another judge, ruling on another KBR issue, its running of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, has ruled the same way. Sick soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan filed claims against the corporations because of “alleged failures of the military contractors to treat water and dispose of waste in a manner required” by their contract with the US military.

Today federal court judge Roger W. Titus ordered that claims against military contractors, KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) and Halliburton, may proceed.

In his 41-page opinion Judge Titus dismissed the jurisdictions of the defendants and is allowing limited discovery to go forward. In its ruling the Court stated, “In tension with the exercise of caution supported by these legal defenses is the legitimate concern that the judiciary may prematurely close courtroom doors to soldiers and civilians injured from wartime logistical activities performed by hired hands allegedly acting contrary to military-defined strictures. Courts must be prepared to adjudicate cases that ultimately expose defense contractors to appropriate liability where it is demonstrated that they acted outside the parameters established by the military and, as a result, failed to exercise proper care in minimizing risk to service members and civilians.”

Please read the entire post here

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Injured Contractors, Iraq, KBR | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cloud of Smoke Could Put Soldiers’ Lives at Risk

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 27, 2010

Hundreds of Soldiers Say They Inhaled Toxic Smoke from Pits Where Military Burns Equipment, Medical Supplies, Hazardous Waste as were the Contractors

When soldiers go into war zones, they expect certain hazards on the battlefield but not necessarily on base, yet that’s where hundreds of soldiers say they were exposed to toxic fumes, CBS News Correspondent Jeff Glor reports.

This week, the American Lung Association issued a strong recommendation for the military to discontinue the use of open-air trash burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan because they are a dangerous health risk. Hundreds of soldiers who’ve been exposed to the burn pits say inhaling the toxic smoke has inflicted them with severe breathing problems and even cancer.

Michele Pearce is a fighter. She battled stomach cancer in 2008. Then doctors discovered another tumor in her lung.

“I literally just said, ‘Wow I could die,'” Pearce said.

Pearce – now in remission – was deployed to Iraq in 2006. She believes her cancer is connected to the months she spent inhaling smoke from base burn pits.

Christopher Sweet blames his wife’s leukemia on the burn pits she was exposed to in Afghanistan. Diagnosed in September 2008, Jessica Sweet died five months later.

“I don’t know that it gets easier,” said Sweet. “4:08. That’s the time that’s ingrained in my brain when you hear ‘Time of death, 4:08,’ and that’s your wife.”

The military authorized more than a hundred burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The largest were operated by private contractors Halliburton and KBR, designed to burn everything from military equipment to medical supplies, batteries and hazardous waste.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Dr. Robert Miller of is treating more than a dozen soldiers exposed to burn-pit smoke.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the burn pits emit toxins,” said Miller. “It’s a solid waste burning. It’s a practice that’s essentially outlawed in the United States.”

Sweet, Pearce and nearly 400 military personnel are part of a class-action lawsuit against KBR, accusing the company of negligence and illegally burning waste.

Last November, former KBR employee Rick Lamberth told senators he’d witnessed operators improperly throwing hazardous waste into burn pits.

“I was told to shut up and keep that to myself,” Lamberth said.

KBR turned down CBS News’ request for an interview but said in a statement that “the military, not KBR, decides what method of waste disposal will be used … what items can be disposed .. and it complied with all military directives.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., pushed legislation to force the military to shut down many burn pits, but 40, including 11 KBR pits, are still in operation.

“I do not want to see these burn pits become the Agent Orange of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,” Bishop said.

Despite a 2006 leaked internal Pentagon memo warning of chronic health concerns, the military maintains it needs time to study the smoke exposure effects.

Pearce said she just wants answers.

“What did these companies do to put my life at risk?” Pearce asked.

Sweet believes the bottom line is his wife’s death should have been prevented.

“If she wasn’t exposed to the burn pits, I believe she’d be here today, absolutely,” Sweet said.

With most of the soldiers unable to serve, the Department of Veterans Affairs has issued guidelines to doctors and has launched a study to evaluate the long-term health effects from exposure to the burn pits.

Posted in Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Iraq, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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