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Posts Tagged ‘Qarmat Ali’

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 »

Declassified KBR Contract shows how it gets a free pass for Willful Misconduct

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 16, 2011

Craig Malisow at Houston Press December 16, 2011

A KBR government contract protected the company from liability for injuries or deaths caused by willful misconduct, according to recently declassified Army documents.

Although the existence of the clause was revealed as a part of a lawsuit filed in 2009, the actual document remained classified until this week. The contract is a key point in the federal suit, filed in Texas by Houston attorney Mike Doyle on behalf of 136 Indiana, South Carolina and West Virginia National Guardsmen (and British Royal Air Force officers) who were allegedly exposed to cancer-causing chemicals while providing security at an Iraqi water treatment plant in 2003.

Two Guardsmen have died, seven have developed respiratory system tumors and others are experiencing serious respiratory issues as a result of the exposure, according to the suit. (Doyle is also involved in a sister suit in Oregon, involving 34 Oregon National Guard soldiers.)

The indemnity clause requires the government to cover the cost of litigation against KBR, even if the company (then still a part of Halliburton) was at fault. In the water treatment plant suit, the guardsmen claim they were exposed to a highly toxic chemical called hexavalent chromium, and that KBR lied to the soldiers about the chemical’s presence and any associated health risks.

KBR has denied any wrongdoing.

Approximately 1,000 Army soldiers and civilian employees were exposed to the chemical while working at the Qarmat Ali facility in 2003, “and many remained unaware of their exposure until 2008,” according to a September 2011 report by the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General.

“Contractor recognition of, and response to, the health hazard represented by [the chemical] contamination, once identified at the Qarmat Ali facility, was delayed,” the report states. “The delay occurred because KBR did not fully comply with occupational safety and health standards required by the contract….”

However, the indemnity clause appears to absolve KBR of any financial liability. This prompted Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer to co-author an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 calling for the Pentagon to notify Congress of future indemnity clauses.

“We already know from what happened at KBR’s Qarmat Ali project that these secret bailout deals are bad for our soldiers and a bad deal for taxpayers, and anything that puts more protections in place is a good step,” Doyle said of the act’s amendment

Please see the original here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Iraq, KBR | 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

UK troops join former US personnel in ‘toxic’ lawsuit

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 10, 2010

Hot off the UK Press from Brit Guy

By Rajini Vaidyanathan  Reporter, BBC Radio 4’s PM

Seven former British soldiers are suing an American defence firm, accusing it of exposing them to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals in Iraq.

The men were providing security at a water plant near Basra where sodium dichromate was discovered.

They claim that its operator, Kellog Brown and Root (KBR), failed to protect them from the substance.

The men join 98 US soldiers suing KBR. It denies the allegations, saying necessary precautions were taken.

“If I’d have known what I now know, I would not have gone on that site and I would not have made my men operate on that site,” says Andy Tosh.

The former regiment sergeant served in several combat zones but it is his time in Iraq in 2003 which has left him worried for his future.

“I’m used to risking my life or defending the right cause if you want to call it that. But again that’s against things you would expect.

“You join the military to do a job, not to get exposed to a toxic chemical through a contractor,” he adds.

The lawsuit he and his former colleagues have joined relates to the time they spent providing security at the Qarmat Ali water plant, which was pumping water to nearby oil wells.

‘Rashes and nosebleeds’

The plant was run by the defence contractor KBR, a company which until 2007 was part of the Halliburton oil corporation.

When the men began working on the site in May 2003 they noticed a reddish orange powder, some of it in bags, some of it in the drains and in the sand.

Initially they thought little of it, but Sgt Tosh says he became concerned when he and some of his team developed rashes, nosebleeds, and breathing problems after coming into contact with the substance.

“In August I had a severe rash on my forearms and hands. I’ve operated all over the world, from South America to the Arctic, I’ve never had any rash like that before,” he says.

“I was that concerned that I did go and see the station medical officer in Basra.”

A few months after the men arrived, notices started to appear around the plant, explaining that the coloured powder was in fact a highly toxic substance – sodium dichromate, the same chemical which was brought to attention in the film Erin Brockovich.

“At the time the warning signs went out around a pump room where this sodium dichromate had been stored in bags previously, and then they said that the orange powder…was actually sodium dichromate.

“Later on, they moved us from where we were operating, but not very far, only 100 metres away from the site.

“Once the warning signs went up, we never saw any US national guards again, we were told that there was nothing to worry about, it’s all fine.”

Sgt Tosh says he believes the US guards left in fear for their safety.

During the time he remained on the site he says he saw KBR workers there, many of them wearing protective clothing.

Chemical exposure?

Sodium dichromate is a highly carcinogenic substance, used as an anti-corrosive.

Medical experts say it can cause nosebleeds, damage to the septum, breathing problems and even in some cases lung cancer.

In the 36-page lawsuit, the soliders claim that KBR “disregarded and downplayed” the dangers of being exposed to the chemical.

In response, KBR says the sodium dichromate was left at Qarmat Ali by Iraqi workers under Saddam Hussein’s regime and that it took action to make the site safe.

It adds that it notified the US Army Corps of Engineers of the presence of the substance and its dangers.

A statement from KBR goes on to say: “Air sample tests performed by the US Army Center for Health Promotion Preventative Medicine and the British Military and KBR showed no dangerous levels of airborne chromium hexalvelant.”

The defence contractor further contends that no medical data support the claims that soldiers and KBR workers suffered from nosebleeds and respiratory problems caused by sodium dichromate.

This is something almost 100 soliders in the United States dispute.

Ninety-eight former members of the US military are already suing KBR, claiming they have contracted serious illnesses from their time at the plant.

“I have a laundry list of health problems,” explains Larry Roberta, who served with the Oregon National guard.

“I only have 60% lung capacity, I have very low testosterone, I have two types of inhalers, I can’t walk a block with passing over.

“To me there’s no doubt the cause is sodium dichromate. That was the turning point exactly, that was when my health went like a car over a cliff.”

Roberta says the orange dust was everywhere at the plant, and he even ended up eating it when it landed on his food.

“It’s just a real horrible, disgusting taste. It’s a real heavy metal taste. It’s like if you were to run outside and lick the lampost.”

Side-effects

The issue of chemical exposure at the Qarmat Ali water plant has been the subject of a number of hearings in the US Senate.

Dr Herman Gibb, an expert on sodium dichromate who gave evidence to those hearings, says it can take years for the side-effects of the chemical to manifest.

And that is the concern among the British troops who have filed the lawsuit.

“We just want our day in court,” explains John Gledhill, from Retford in Nottinghamshire.

“I want to know we can get some medical screening because there have been numerous national guardsmen over in America who were at the water treatment plant at the same time as us who’ve got symptoms.

“I’ve got no symptoms at the minute, but it’s a carcinogenic compound so we don’t know what the future holds.”

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence says it takes “very seriously” any suggestion that troops may have been exposed to levels of sodium dichromate in Iraq in 2003.

But it goes on: “This was examined at the time and there was no cause for alarm…the results of sampling showed that levels of sodium dichromate were significantly below UK government and US Army guidance levels and should not have had any effect on the patrolling guard force.

“Should any new evidence come to light, we will obviously consider it.”

The ex-servicemen on the lawsuit are also calling for an enquiry into the matter at Westminster.

“It’s a bit of a silent risk,” says Jim Garth. “It’s something we knew nothing about.”

“Granted it wasn’t a British installation, but we were tasked with guarding this installation by our superiors – and it looks like this could be a killer as well as the other things in a war zone that can kill you.” Original here

Posted in Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, KBR, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 »

 
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