Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

KBR: Feds Should Pay Lawsuit Damages

Associated Press at ABC News  November 28, 2012

An Iraq war contractor that lost an $85 million verdict to a group of sickened Oregon soldiers has filed a lawsuit seeking to force the federal government to pay the soldiers’ damages.

In early November, 12 Oregon National Guard soldiers won the verdict against Kellogg Brown and Root, an engineering and construction firm that helped lead the reconstruction work in post-war Iraq. The soldiers were exposed to a toxin while guarding an Iraqi water plant.

In the new lawsuit, KBR also demands that the government pay more than $15 million in its attorneys’ fees.

At the heart of the suit is a so-called indemnification clause that KBR alleges it agreed to with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in March 2003. The clause was designed to protect KBR against “unusually hazardous risks” in its work in Iraq.

In a Nov. 16 filing in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, KBR argues the clause makes the government responsible for the results of its actions in Iraq, including the Oregon verdict.

“Based upon an erroneous legal and factual analysis of the terms of the indemnification agreement, (the Army Corps) has refused to indemnify (KBR) for the costs of defending against the various third-party lawsuits,” KBR attorneys wrote, “and has refused to participate or assume direct responsibility in defending (KBR) in the underlying tort litigations.”

KBR said in the suit that it had no insurance to cover its wartime work, and the government’s refusal to involve itself in lawsuits constitutes a breach of the indemnification agreement.

Please read the entire article here

November 28, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Iraq, KBR, Toxic, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No VFA cover for dumping

US ship dumping of toxic waste provokes outrage in Manila

All Voices 2nd Update

The SBMA spot report showed that the tanker was carrying some 189,500 liters of domestic waste and about 760 liters of bilge water (a combination of water, oil and grease), all of which were hauled from Emory Land, a US Navy ship.

Santiago seeks Senate probe of US Navy contractor

Phillipine Daily Inquirer  Saturday November 10, 2012

The United States Navy contractor accused of dumping hazardous waste into Subic Bay last month is not covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement between the US and the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.

“The VFA only covers US military personnel and US civilian personnel who are individuals employed by the US Armed Forces or those that accompany them such as employees of the American Red Cross and United Services Organization,” said Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, the DFA spokesperson.

“Since Glenn Defense Marine Asia Philippines Inc. cannot be considered US personnel, clearly its acts as third-party contractors are not covered by the VFA,” Hernandez said.

The VFA, the 1999 agreement that provides the framework for regulating the presence of US military forces and equipment in the Philippines, allows the US government to retain jurisdiction over US military personnel accused of committing crimes in the Philippines, unless the crimes are of “particular” importance to the Philippines.

The debate over this controversial aspect of the VFA—which many Filipinos see as one-sided and an affront to the sovereignty of the Philippines—has come into play once again after the Malaysia-based US Navy contractor accused by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) of dumping toxic waste in its waters invoked the protection of the VFA.

Glenn Defense Marine Asia Phil., through its politically influential law firm, Villaraza, Cruz, Marcelo and Angangco, when confronted with a “show-cause” letter by the SBMA to explain its illegal acts cheekily replied that the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFACOM), not the government agency that administers the free port, had jurisdiction over it.

The Inquirer reported on Friday that the SBMA was investigating the US Navy contractor for allegedly dumping untreated toxic and hazardous waste on Subic Bay last month. The waste was reportedly dumped by the tanker Glenn Guardian, a vessel owned by Glenn Defense, which reportedly collected the waste from US ships that participated in recently concluded joint military exercises in the country.

Hernandez pointed to Article I of the VFA, which defines the term “military personnel” and “civilian personnel” covered by the agreement, as referring only to individuals employed by the US military and those accompanying them.

Please read the entire article here

November 9, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Lawsuits, Legal Jurisdictions, Toxic | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Oregon Live  November 2, 1012

Oregon National Guard soldiers

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.”

November 2, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Friendly Fire, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Lawsuits, Private Military Contractors, Toxic | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Burn, Baby! Burn

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

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Lawsuits, Safety and Security Issues, Toxic | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Judge declines to dismiss Oregon soldiers’ case against KBR

The Oregonian  August 30, 2012

Magistrate Judge Paul Papak this week denied KBR’s request to throw out the lawsuit by 12 Oregon soldiers. The 12 in the lawsuit are part of a group who accuse the company of knowingly exposing them to a carcinogen, hexavalent chromium, that was present at a water treatment plant in southern Iraq where the soldiers were assigned to provide security for KBR engineers.

The company denies the charge.

Papak also denied requests by both sides to exclude the others’ expert witnesses, except to limit the extent of the medical opinions offered by Dr. Arch Carson, who said the soldiers’ suffered “genetic transformation injury” as a result of their exposure to the carcinogen. Carson’s testimony will be allowed, but he will not be allowed to argue that the injury persists to the present day. Papak noted that Carson conceded “that he lacks a good scientific basis” for that portion of his opinion.

Please see the original here

August 31, 2012 Posted by | KBR, Legal Jurisdictions, Toxic | , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

August 12, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Health Watch, Iraq, Safety and Security Issues, Toxic, Veterans | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taxpayers may not be on the hook for KBR’s legal costs in sodium dichromate suits

Oregon Live  June 26, 2012

It’s not clear who’s going to pay legal costs for defense contractor KBR Inc., which is being sued by National Guard soldiers who accuse the company of knowingly exposing them to a carcinogen.

While the company persuaded the Army Corps of Engineers to write an indemnification clause into its 2003 contract to restore the flow of Iraq’s oil, the Corps has twice refused KBR’s request to cover its costs in the two lawsuits proceeding against it in Oregon and Texas.

Lawyers for KBR say they believe the company is entitled to have its expenses covered by taxpayers but is proceeding through the litigation in the meantime at its own risk and expense, said Geoffrey Harrison of the Houston firm of Susman, Godfrey. The company expects to challenge the Corps’ denial “maybe at the end of the case,” he said.

June 27, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Lawsuits, Safety and Security Issues, Toxic, USACE | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oregon case against KBR is streamlined

Mike Francis Oregon Live  April 10, 2012

The suit brought by several dozen Oregon National Guard soldiers against military contractor KBR Inc. has been downsized by the federal judge hearing the case.

In an effort to reduce the number of plaintiffs to a manageable number, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak has ordered trial to proceed in October with 12 plaintiffs — four chosen by lawyers for each side, and four selected by the court.

Separately, one plaintiff, Michael O’Rielly, has withdrawn from the case at his own request.

That leaves 21 soldiers whose case against KBR will be set aside while the trial of the first dozen proceeds in Portland this fall.

And on a parallel track, lawyers for KBR and the soldiers agreed Tuesday to take their arguments before a mediator in Harris County, Texas, where KBR is based. The mediation, which is scheduled for August, will cover the cases brought the Oregon soldiers and by soldiers from the Indiana National Guard. Mediation may lead to a settlement, but if it doesn’t, the trial of the first 12 Oregon soldiers will proceed.

The first 12 soldiers scheduled to take their case against KBR are: Jason Arnold, Rocky Bixby, Ronald Bjerklund, Colt Campredon, Charles Ellis, Byron Greer, Matthew Hadley, Brian Hedin, Vito Pacheco, Larry Roberta, Charles Seamon and Aaron St. Clair.

The soldiers are suing KBR because they believe the contractor knowingly exposed them to a carcinogenic compound when they were assigned to provide security at a water treatment plant in southern Iraq. KBR was hired to help restore Iraq’s oil production after the invasion, and the Oregon soldiers were among those who guarded them as they worked.

A compound called sodium dichromate, used as an anticorrosive agent, was present at the site, and some of the soldiers have developed symptoms consistent with the effects of sodium dichromate exposure. At least two members of the Indiana National Guard who guarded the Qarmat Ali plant have died — one from lung cancer and another for what was called “chronic interstitial lung disease.”

KBR denies that it knowingly exposed the soldiers to a dangerous chemical compound.

Please see the original and read more here

April 11, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Toxic | , , , , | Leave a comment

National Guard soldiers say contractor knew about toxin

KTVL TV 10 Portland Associated Press  April 4, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A military contractor knew an Iraqi water treatment plant’s lax environmental standards let a toxic chemical contaminate the area, but never disclosed it to Oregon National Guard soldiers who were sickened, the soldiers said in a complaint filed Wednesday.

The complaint in U.S. District Court in Oregon alleges Kellogg, Brown and Root knew about the presence of sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant months before the date they originally gave in testimony and depositions.

A message left Wednesday for KBR was not immediately returned.

Sodium dichromate is an anticorrosive compound that can cause skin and breathing problems and cancer.

The soldiers, suffering from myriad respiratory problems, migraines and lung issues, sued KBR in June 2009.

The company acknowledged the presence of sodium dichromate in July 2003; a former employee later revealed an email to his managers that showed the company knew of the chemical in June 2003.

But the report uncovered by the soldiers’ attorneys points to KBR knowing about the presence of sodium dichromate in January 2003.

The soldiers say they only learned of the alleged misrepresentation in late February, after a Department of Defense inspector general investigation directed them to a 2002 KBR assessment of the plant.

Attorneys for the soldiers called the company’s earlier explanation “deliberate, calculated concealment,” according to the complaint. Guard soldiers from Oregon, Indiana and West Virginia who provided security at the Qarmat Ali water plant are involved in suits against KBR.

April 4, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, Government Contractor, Halliburton, KBR, Toxic | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

KBR’s Blood Money

War profiteering has never been so profitable for the wrongdoer and so dangerous for our troops and the taxpayer. Please sign my petition (SIGN HERE)

MsSparky’s Toxic Exposure

More than 200 soldiers are suing KBR for knowingly exposing them to toxic chemicals in Iraq, whose effects started with nose bleeds and could end with cancer. KBR says that didn’t happen. But even if it did, the company isn’t responsible. Taxpayers are.

even if KBR is found liable, an indemnity clause in the company’s contract means that it won’t have to cover legal costs. There’s a reason both KBR and the Army wanted a last-minute addition to the contract to remain classified for as long as possible: It indemnifies KBR for any soldier’s on-site injury or death — even if due to the company’s willful misconduct.

The Houston Press  February 15, 2012

Larry Roberta, a specialist in the Oregon National Guard, sat on a stack of sacks brimming with one of the most carcinogenic chemicals known to man and chomped on his chicken patty.

Unsuccessful in his mission to swap his rations with any of the British soldiers, who were stocked with heavenly corned beef hash and chocolate pudding, he braved the mystery meat’s gooey coating while keeping an eye on the contractors’ trailer a few yards away. While the Kellogg Brown & Root guys ate inside the trailer, Roberta could’ve taken lunch in one of the vehicles, but he figured vehicles were prime targets for any insurgents or Saddam loyalists who might be scouring the area. Better to suffer the hundred-plus-degree heat.

To Roberta’s knowledge, the chicken patty, with its gooey coating, was the only toxic substance he was currently in contact with. The sand around the sacks was mixed with a dark-orange, crystalline powder, but it didn’t faze him — the entire water-injection facility he was guarding was filthy with chemical residue.

The facility, Qarmat Ali, was a sprawling, approximately 50-acre plant where chemically treated water was pumped deep underground to maintain balance in the reservoirs while the oil was extracted. The plant had already felt the pains from years of U.N. sanctions before looters descended like human twisters in early spring and ran away with whatever wasn’t bolted down, and much of what was, knocking out electricity and leaving some buildings as mere husks. One building was littered with human feces; exposed machinery was coated with sludge and sand and colored powders.

Please read this very important story in it’s entirety here

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Lawsuits, Legal Jurisdictions, Safety and Security Issues, Toxic | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

The OregonianSeptember 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.”

“To me, the bottom line is this report confirms what Oregon soldiers and I have been saying for years,” said Wyden. “KBR and the military command failed to protect soldiers from a known threat.”

Houston-based KBR couldn’t be reached for comment before deadline. KBR has previously denied knowingly exposing soldiers or contractors to health risks.

Rocky Bixby of Tualatin, the former Oregon National Guard soldier who is listed as the first plaintiff in the suit against KBR, said Wednesday afternoon that he hadn’t yet seen the report, but is “obviously happy.”

“I’m just happy that the government is making a stand on this and protecting its troops,” said Bixby, who says he continues to suffer breathing difficulties that started after he helped secure the plant where KBR was working to restore water service.

The 56-page report also faults the military’s handling of the work at Qarmat Ali, from the vague wording of its initial contract to its failure to monitor the contractor’s compliance with its terms

Please read more here

September 28, 2011 Posted by | AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Department of Defense, Halliburton, KBR, Safety and Security Issues, Toxic | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq veteran is cancer ‘timebomb’

Published on Thursday 21 July 2011 10:30 at Chad.co.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

Please read the entire story here

July 21, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Halliburton, KBR, Toxic | , , , , | Leave a comment

Senators press for burn pit update from military

TAMPA BAY ONLINE  May 18, 2011

Armed with a new study showing military personnel deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq are eight times more likely to suffer respiratory problems than those who are not, two senators are asking the Department of Defense to provide an immediate update on what is being done about the problem of burn pits, which have operated in both countries.

Armed with a new study showing military personnel deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq are eight times more likely to suffer respiratory problems than those who are not, two senators are asking the Department of Defense to provide an immediate update on what is being done about the problem of burn pits, which have operated in both countries.

Democrats Bill Nelson of Florida and Charles Schumer of New York got involved with the issue after the December death of retired Army Sgt. Bill McKenna, who was born in New York but lived in Spring Hill.

McKenna, 41, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, died at HPH Hospice, of Spring Hill, from cancer he contracted after constant exposure to the thick smoke that wafted almost every hour of every day across Balad Air Base in Iraq, where McKenna was stationed about 18 months.

In bases across Afghanistan, amputated body parts, Humvee parts, human waste, plastic meal trays and other garbage are incinerated using jet fuel in large trenches called burn pits. The military halted the practice in Iraq last year.

Thousands of military personnel may have been exposed to the toxic fumes and, across the United States, more than 300 have joined a class-action lawsuit against KBR, the military contractor that operated some of the burn pits at bases in Iraq.

The company is fighting the suit, filed in federal court in Maryland, claiming it operated some pits at the military’s direction; most were operated by the Army.

Late last year, after a News Channel 8-Tampa Tribune investigation, the Department of Veterans Affairs ruled McKenna’s cancer was directly related to burn pits and awarded him 100 percent service-connected disability.

Please read the entire story here

May 18, 2011 Posted by | Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Toxic | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What KBR really knew about the chemicals at Qarmat Ali

By MsSparky March 18, 2011

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.

See the original at MsSparky

March 18, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Toxic | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Agent Orange cleanup to start at former US base in Vietnam

From  Chuck Palazzo at Veterans Today

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam and the United States aim to start cleaning up contamination from Agent Orange at a former wartime US base in the middle of next year, the US embassy said Thursday.

A memorandum signed between the two sides “confirms the mutual desire of both governments to cooperate in hopes that cleanup can begin in July 2011 and be completed in October 2013,” the statement said.

The agreement covers contamination at the Danang airport in central Vietnam.

During the Vietnam War US aircraft flying from bases including Danang sprayed Agent Orange and other herbicides to strip trees of foliage, in a bid to deprive communist forces of cover and food.

The herbicides contained potentially cancer-causing dioxin.

In preparation for the cleanup, the US awarded a contract late last year for building a secure landfill site to hold contaminated soil and sediment at the airport, where the US is focusing its help at Vietnam’s request.

US ambassador Michael Michalak told the signing ceremony on Thursday that Washington has set aside almost 17 million dollars this year for the Danang dioxin cleanup, which will cost a total of 34 million dollars.

Please see the entire post here

January 2, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, State Department, Toxic, Viet Nam | , , , , | Leave a comment