Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Posts Tagged ‘Hexavalent chromium’

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 »

What KBR really knew about the chemicals at Qarmat Ali

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 18, 2011

Thanks to MsSparky for letting us crosspost

In the ongoing legal battle being waged by several State National Guard Units, this video is pretty typical of what I’ve seen of KBR testimony about the role they played in exposing US and British soldiers, US and local civilians to deadly at . You can watch more disturbing deposition testimony HERE. I am listing the people giving depositions in the order they appear in this DoyleRaizner video.

As far as I’m concerned, someone or several someones need to be going to prison for murder, assault and treason!
1. – KBR engineer who led team conducting April 2003 environmental/safety assessment of Qarmat Ali – Testimony from :53-2:29 of video
2. – Former Corporate Health Safety & Environmental (HSE) Manager – Testimony from 2:45-3:16 of video
3. – KBR Chief Contract Negotiator – Testimony from 3:20-6:08 of video
4. – KBR Contract Attorney – Testimony from 6:09-7:00 of video
5. – KBR Head of Security – Testimony from 7:19-8:03 of video
6. – KBR Environmental Engineering Manager – Testimony 8:08-8:42 of video
7. Mary Wade – KBR Chief Contract Negotiator – Testimony from 8:49-9:46 of video
8. – Former Commander of the – Testimony from 9:47-10:52 – Lt. Col James Gentry, 52 died on November 25, 2009 of his illness contracted from exposure to hexavalent chromium at Qarmat Ali.

Yes, this is a re-post “back by popular demand.” I want to personally thank McKenna Long & Aldridge for introducing me to the website ChangeDetection.com, what a great web tool, thanks for sharing!

See the original at MsSparky

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, KBR, Political Watch, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Occupational Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 27, 2010

http://www.dol.gov/federalregister/Search/GetHtml.aspx?DocID=11526

Occupational Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium AGENCY: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Department of Labor. ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is amending the existing standard which limits occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)). OSHA has determined based upon the best evidence currently available that at the current permissible exposure limit (PEL) for Cr(VI), workers face a significant risk to material impairment of their health.

The evidence in the record for this rulemaking indicates that workers exposed to Cr(VI) are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The record also indicates that occupational exposure to Cr(VI) may result in asthma, and damage to the nasal epithelia and skin.

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

VA creates new registry for soldiers exposed to hexavalent chromium in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 23, 2010

The Department of Veterans Affairs is launching a Qarmat Ali registry to aggressively track and treat veterans exposed to a cancer-causing chemical in Iraq in 2003.

By Julie Sulivan The Oregonian

The national surveillance program will register hundreds of National Guard members who served at the Qarmat Ali water- treatment plant, looking for health problems associated with hexavalent chromium exposure, such as asthma and lung cancer.

The monitoring is a victory for nearly 300 Oregon Army National Guard members and for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Wyden proposed such a registry March 22 after veterans with breathing and skin problems told him in an emotional meeting in Portland that VA staff did not understand the hazards of their assignment.

“This is a concrete step forward,” Wyden said. “But it is only a step.” He wants the VA to go further and presume a service connection that will increase access and benefits.

The program is more a medical monitoring program than a confirmation of health problems. The VA does not presume a veteran who served at Qarmat Ali is ill — nor that any specific diseases are linked to serving there.

But the Qarmat Ali Medical Surveillance program will standardize medical exams nationwide, focusing doctors’ attention on lung cancer and other related problems and help direct treatment. Among the steps: ear, nose, throat, lung and skin exams as well as regular chest X-rays, said Dr. Victoria Cassano, director of radiation and physical exposure for the VA’s Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards.

Please Read the Entire Story here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Toxic Exposures, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

KBR: Private Military Cancer (PMC) Provider? Part II

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 11, 2010

David Isenberg at Huffington Post

Back in April I wrote about the lawsuit filed by Indiana National Guardsmen, against KBR. The suite suit alleges that KBR knowingly allowed exposure to the toxic chemical sodium dichromate, also known as hexavalent chromium. It was widely present as an orange-colored dust that soldiers assigned to guard the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in southern Iraq could not avoid inhaling. Sodium dichromate chromium is a powerful carcinogen known to cause lung, nasal and other cancers, other severe respiratory problems and other medical problems.

Yesterday, six more British Iraq vets and a former Indiana National Guardsmen sued KBR in Houston federal court over alleged toxic exposure at the Qarmat Ali site. This makes a total of 98 U.S. and U.K. vets and two families of vets who have died since serving in Iraq that have sued KBR in three cases pending in Texas, Oregon and West Virginia federal courts.

The amended complaint also includes recent confirmation from the U.S. Army that Indiana National Guard Commander Jim Gentry’s death from cancer resulted from his service exposure.

Here are some excerpts from the amended complaint.

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, KBR, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hexavalent chromium suit against KBR by Oregon National Guard goes forward in Portland

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 20, 2010

By Julie Sullivan, The Oregonian

Oregon Army National Guard veterans suing the largest war contractor in Iraq today in federal court in Portland acknowledge they’re waging an improbable fight.

In February, the war contractor squashed a similar lawsuit by Indiana Guard who also claimed they were knowingly exposed to a cancer-causing chemical in Iraq in 2003.

Last June, the war contractor even knocked out a suit by 10 of its former employees — the people Oregon troops were guarding.

The 21 Oregon veterans suing Kellogg, Brown and Root include a postal clerk, a security guard and a soldier just back from a second tour to Iraq where he guarded KBR convoys. The men say they suffer breathing, stomach and other health problems from being exposed to hexavalent chromium at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant.

They face a large and experienced defense team who’ve handled hundreds of personal injury claims filed against KBR since the invasion of Iraq over its burn pits, accidental electrocutions and alleged assaults.

On the vets’ team: one tall Texan and a Portland trial lawyer in a solo firm.

Houston attorney Michael Patrick Doyle, who’s won millions suing corporations for negligence, is working with David Sugerman, who’s taken class-action suits and consumer cases. They took the case on contingency. After months of unpaid work, one soldier felt so guilty he gave Sugerman the only bill in his wallet: an Iraqi dinar.  Read the full story here

Also Read MsSparky Chemical and Other Exposures

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, KBR, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

KBR files motion to dismiss hexavalent chromium lawsuit filed by Oregon soldiers

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 27, 2010

By Julie Sullivan, The Oregonian

Attorneys for Kellogg, Brown & Root have filed a second motion to dismiss an Oregon Army National Guardsmen lawsuit against the war contractor, saying the Oregon court lacks jurisdiction over the federal government’s military and foreign policy decisions in wartime.

Friday’s filing comes three weeks after U.S. District Judge Magistrate Paul Papak denied an earlier motion to dismiss, ruling that the case should go forward.

Twenty-one current and former Oregon Army National Guard soldiers, mostly from the Portland area, are suing the Houston-based firm and four of its subsidiaries saying they were intentionally exposed to the cancer-causing chemical, hexavalent chromium after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Troops from Oregon, Indiana and West Virginia were ordered to guard KBR employees working to restore oil production in southern Iraq. Soldiers from all three states have filed lawsuits. They claim that at the Qarmat Ali water plant near Basra, KBR ignored and downplayed the health risks of a corrosion-fighter scattered across the facility that contained hexavalent chromium. Soldiers allege breathing, stomach and other health problems as a result. At least two soldiers, including one in Oregon, died of cancer after serving at the plant.

According to the 41-page memorandum, KBR attorneys wrote the firm won the Army Corps of Engineers’ contract to “Restore Iraqi Oil” 17 days before the United States invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003. Restoring oil flow from the dilapidated and heavily looted Iraqi facilities was one of the United States’ most pressing goals, attorneys said. The circa-1970s water plant at Qarmat Ali was particularly important, as it provided the needed water pressure to all the oil wells across southern Iraq.

KBR attorneys Jeffrey Eden  and Stephen Deatherage  wrote that under its contract, KBR was not required to conduct an environmental assessment at Qarmat Ali. U.S. soldiers who did conduct an initial assessment shortly after the invasion noted the orange stains on the soil, but did not ask for further investigation. Instead, they recommended a new plant be built altogether.

The Corps of Engineers decided not to rebuild the plant, but rather repair it and decided not to conduct a full environmental assessment due to the wartime conditions.

KBR attorneys also said that the U.S. and British military, not KBR, were responsible for notifying soldiers of the potential exposure and determining whether and to what extent they were exposed.
The attorneys further claim that the same Federal Tort Claims Act which prevents individuals from suing the government in all but very limited circumstances, should apply to the contractor.

“KBR performing a common mission with the military under military command in a military theater.’

KBR has been barraged with lawsuits ranging from soldiers’ who claimed they were injured by burn pits the to families of drivers killed in Iraq.

The soldiers attorney, David Sugerman,  vowed to go forward.

“We want Oregon soldiers to have their day in court.”

A hearing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. June 7 in federal court in Portland.

Julie Sullivan: 503-221-8068

Posted in Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Exclusive Remedy, KBR, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oregon Guard soldiers lawsuit again war contractor KBR can go forward

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 12, 2010

By Julie Sullivan, The Oregonian

April 12, 2010, 5:57PM

An Oregon Army National Guard soldiers’ lawsuit against war contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root over exposure to a cancer-causing chemical will go forward, a federal judge ruled Friday in Portland.

U.S. District Judge Magistrate Paul Papak denied KBR’s motion to dismiss the case, saying the court in Oregon does have jurisdiction.

The ruling is a significant step for 21 Oregon soldiers who claim they were intentionally exposed to the chemical hexavalent chromium after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Troops from Oregon and two other states were ordered to guard employees of the Houston-based holding company and its four subsidiaries, which were restoring oil production in southern Iraq.

The soldiers claim that at the Qarmat Ali water plant, KBR ignored and downplayed the health risks of a corrosion-fighter scattered across the facility that contained hexavalent chromium. Soldiers sued alleging lung and other health problems as a result.

In February, a federal judge in Indianapolis dismissed a similar suit saying that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana lacked jurisdiction over KBR. The 47 Indiana soldiers refiled their lawsuit in Houston.

In Portland, the attorney for the Oregon soldiers, David Sugerman said, “We are going forward. Oregon National Guard soldiers will have their day in court.”

KBR has denied harming any troops or employees. Calls seeking comment from the contractors’ Portland attorneys were not returned. In February, the attorneys argued that when the contractor called for help in Iraq, that action was not directed at the state of Oregon and the alleged victims were not in Oregon when those calls occurred.

But in his 18-page opinion, Papak ruled that by using Oregon National Guardsmen — people whose health and safety directly impact the state’s treasury, “defendants purposefully injected themselves into this forum.” He also said that Oregon has a clear interest in protecting the health and safety not merely of its citizens, but also of its employees, the Guardsmen.

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

KBR Failed To Protect Troops and Contractors in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 4, 2009

Senate Democrats charge that KBR failed to protect troops in Iraq from “deadly poison”

Workers — civilians as well as U.S. troops — were exposed to hexavalent chromium as KBR raced to repair a water treatment plant near Basra to get the oil flowing again in 2003.

But the troops’ exposure to the cancer-causing chemical didn’t come to light until a June 2008 oversight hearing. Ed Blacke, a fomer KBR safety official testified that he was sent home from Iraq in 2003 after raising concerns about the reddish-orange powder piled at the plant.

Blacke told Dorgan’s committee that in addition to KBR employees, hundreds of U.S. troops were surrounded by the toxic powder as they slept, ate and patrolled at the Qarmat Ali plant between April and August 2003.

See MsSparky for full story

Posted in Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: