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

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

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

Judge dismisses W.Va. soldiers’ case against KBR

Associated Press

WHEELING, W.Va. — A federal judge in West Virginia has dismissed two lawsuits filed by National Guardsmen who believe they were exposed to toxic chemicals in Iraq, and those soldiers now plan to join similar litigation in Texas.

U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp recently ruled he has no jurisdiction over the case, which involves Texas-based military contractor Kellogg Brown & Root Services Inc. and KBR Technical Services.

Wheeling attorney Bill Wilmoth, who represented KBR, said that while his client does recruiting and business in other states, the judge appropriately ruled KBR had not done enough in West Virginia to merit his jurisdiction.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Kessler said Tuesday that his clients aren’t giving up. They will join a similar case in Texas that already includes more than 100 guardsmen from Indiana.

“We are not going to drop it or forget about it because the boys were injured, were exposed and are having long-term and lasting repercussions from that,” said Kessler, who is also a state senator.

While his clients are disappointed they could not proceed in West Virginia, near their doctors, joining forces with fellow soldiers is a positive, Kessler said.

A similar toxic-exposure case against KBR has been filed by guardsmen in Oregon.

The soldiers say they were exposed to cancer-causing sodium dichromate while providing security for KBR workers at a water plant in Iraq in 2003. They say they’ve suffered long-term health problems, including respiratory struggles and nose bleeds.

KBR had been hired to restart the treatment plant, which had been looted and stripped bare. The Iraqis used hexavalent chromium, a component of sodium dichromate, to prevent pipe corrosion at the plant. That’s the same chemical linked to poisonings in California in a case made famous in the movie “Erin Brockovich.”

Some experts say hexavalent chromium can cause severe liver and kidney damage and studies have linked it to leukemia as well as bone, stomach and other cancers.

“It was a very interesting case, lots of interesting science and the war in Iraq — the kind of thing that normal lawyers in West Virginia don’t get a chance to see very often,” Wilmoth said, “and there is a real dispute among the scientists about whether or not this exposure could have resulted in symptoms this soon after the exposure.”

Legislation is pending in the U.S. Senate to help provide a registry that would identify and monitor soldiers exposed to hexavalent chromium in Iraq.

August 4, 2010 Posted by | KBR, Toxic | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

By Julie Sullivan at The Oregonian

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.

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 HazardsRead the entire story here

July 23, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, KBR, Pentagon, Toxic | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In desperation KBR attorneys attempted to “encourage” Army to reconsider

MsSparky

On February 23, 2010 the law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge sent a letter to the Army on behalf of their client KBR. The letter was entitled:

Re:  Request for Reconsideration of Denial of Use of LGEN (Ret.) Ricardo S. Sanchez as Expert Witness

Apparently the Army’s recent decision to not allow LGEN (Ret.) Ricardo S. Sanchez to supply expert testimony on KBR’s behalf didn’t sit well.

I first blogged about LGEN Sanchez testimony in March but didn’t have the letter at that time. I have it now and am disturbed at the sheer level of arrogance of KBR’s attorneys.

I am not going reprint the entire three page letter in this post. If you want to read it in it’s entirety click HERE. I am going to highlight what I consider to be the most disturbing and desperate statements in the letter followed by my Ms Sparky (snarky) interpretation. Read the Post at MsSparky’s

June 4, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, KBR, Toxic | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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.

April 27, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Toxic | , , , , , | Leave a comment

America plans to withdraw its troops but leave behind a toxic mess

EXCLUSIVE REPORT: American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside (Part 1 of 3)

The Kabul Press

The American military presence in Afghanistan consists of fleets of aircraft, helicopters, armored vehicles, weapons, equipment, troops and facilities. Since 2001, they have generated millions of kilograms of hazardous, toxic and radioactive wastes. The Kabul Press asks the simple question:

“What have the Americans done with all that waste?”

The answer is chilling in that virtually all of it appears to have been buried, burned or secretly disposed of into the air, soil, groundwater and surface waters of Afghanistan. While the Americans may begin to withdraw next year, the toxic chemicals they leave behind will continue to pollute for centuries. Any abandoned radioactive waste may stain the Afghan countryside for thousands of years. Afghanistan has been described in the past as the graveyard of foreign armies. Today, Afghanistan has a different title:

“Afghanistan is the toxic dumping ground for foreign armies.”

The (U.S.) Air Force Times ran an editorial on March 1, 2010, that read: “Stamp Out Burn Pits” We reprint here the first half of that editorial:

“A growing number of military medical professionals believe burn pits are causing a wave of respiratory and other illnesses among troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Found on almost all U.S. bases in the war zones, these open-air trash sites operate 24 hours a day, incinerating trash of all forms — including plastic bottles, paint, petroleum products, unexploded ordinance, hazardous materials, even amputated limbs and medical waste. Their smoke plumes belch dioxin, carbon monoxide and other toxins skyward, producing a toxic fog that hangs over living and working areas. Yet while the Air Force fact sheet flatly states that burn pits “can be harmful to human health and environment and should only be used until more suitable disposal capabilities are established,” the Pentagon line is that burn pits have “no known long-term health effects.”

Please Read the Full Story here

April 26, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Toxic | , , | 1 Comment

Toxic Water in Iraq

NBC News Investigation: Toxic water in Iraq

By Rich Gardella and Lisa Myers

Hundreds of National Guardsmen potentially exposed to toxic chemical at Iraq water treatment plant in 2003

www.mssparky.com for the ongoing story and investigation

Throughout 2003, after the combat phase of the Iraq War had ended, the U.S. military and defense contractors raced to try and fix Iraq’s infrastructure.
Working in a war zone obviously presents unexpected challenges and dangers far beyond the usual ones at industrial worksites.  But this is the story of why some Army National Guardsmen are suing defense contractor KBR because of alleged exposures to a toxic chemical at one such industrial worksite in Iraq.
Video: Soldiers sue over alleged toxic exposure
Web only video: Air had a ‘strange metallic taste,’ says soldier

When specialist Larry Roberta of the Oregon Army National Guard went to Iraq in 2003, he expected sandstorms, physical hardship, perhaps even combat.  What he didn’t expect was the orange dust he encountered, all over the place, at the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant, near Basra in southern Iraq.

“You could taste stuff in the air,” Roberta recalled. “It had a really strange metallic taste.”

Roberta’s unit and other Army National Guard units were at the plant during the spring and summer of 2003, in the months after the U.S. invasion that March.  Their mission was to provide security for workers repairing the plant.  It supplied water to Iraqi oil fields, and was an important part of the U.S. mission to get Iraq’s oil flowing again. The workers were repairing the plant for defense contractor Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR).

Roberta and other Guardsmen and former KBR employees told NBC News that the orange dust was throughout the plant and the grounds, and sometimes would permeate the air during when the desert winds blew.
“It blew up in my face and on my chicken patty and my mouth and stuff like that,” Roberta said.  “I didn’t really think a whole lot of it other than it tasted really bad and made me throw up and burned.”
Capt. Russell Kimberling of the Indiana Army National Guard told us he asked KBR officials what the dust was.
“What we got from them was,’It’s a mild irritant,'” Kimberling said.

But the dust actually was a highly toxic chemical called sodium dichromate,  which scientists have found can cause lung cancer in humans.
It had been used by Iraqi workers prior to the war to prevent corrosion in the pipes at the plant.  There were hundreds of bags at the chemical at the plant, some of them clearly labeled.
The mission’s official military name was Task Force RIO (“Restoration of Iraqi Oil”).  KBR got the contract.

Six years later, some of the Guardsmen assigned to provide security for Task Force RIO at the plant are dead, dying or suffering from serious health problems–including rashes, perforated septums and lung disease. One of the foremost experts in sodium dichromate, Dr. Herman  Gibb, says the Guardsmen’s symptoms are consistent with “significant exposure” to the chemical.

KBR argues that the company is not to blame. The company says it told the Army about the dangerous chemical as soon as it was identified at the plant.  That, the company says, was on July 25, 2003.

But, international KBR documents contradict that claim, and indicate that the company became aware of the chemical at the site two months earlier.
One internal KBR document notes that “an environmental technician identified the chemical in May.”  The document’s author was a KBR manager who oversaw health and safety for the Qarmat Ali project.
Another KBR document warns not only that the chemical is present at the plant but also that some areas are “potentially contaminated” with it.  The author of that memo, a KBR health and safety employee, suggests testing and cleanup.  That document is dated June 21, 2003.  That’s more than one month before KBR alerted the Army, and more than two months before the Guardsmen became aware of the danger.
Several Guardsmen recall that it wasn’t until late August that they learned of the hazard, and then only because they saw KBR workers wearing white chemical suits.

“They were in full protective chemical gear,” Russell Kimberling told us.   “You know, from head to toe.  I kind of looked at one of my men and just said, ‘this can’t be good, can it?'”

Although KBR did remediation work in mid-August, it wasn’t until several weeks after that, on September 8, 2003, that KBR shut down the Qarmat Ali plant and did a more extensive cleanup – “out of abundance of caution,” it explained in a statement to NBC News. The plant remained closed until mid-October.
In all, during 2003, more than 700 soldiers passed through the Qarmat Ali plant, mostly Guard units from Indiana, Oregon, South Carolina and West Virginia.  Some of these Guardsmen say they began experiencing physical symptoms – headaches, bloody noses, sinus and respiratory problems – soon after arriving at the plant in the summer of 2003.

Larry Roberta’s medical records confirm he reported breathing problems and chest pains during a visit to a medic that July.  The military evacuated Russ Kimberling from the site that summer so a severe sinus infection in his nasal cavity could heal.
Since then, other soliders who served at Qarmat Ali have experienced serious illnesses.  Some have died.  First Sgt. David moore of the Indiana Army National Guard died of lunch disease in 2008 at age 42.  The commander of Kimerling’s Indiana Army National Guard Unity, Lt. Col James Gentry, died of a rare lunch cancer of the day before Thanksgiving.  He had claimed to be a lifelong non-smoker.

Six years later, the commander of Kimberling’s Indiana Army National Guard Unit, Lt. Col James Gentry, is terminally ill with a rare lung cancer.  He says he’s a lifelong nonsmoker.
First Sgt. David Moore of the Indiana Army National Guard is dead of lung disease at age 42.
Roberta, a former police officer who climbed Mt. Sinai before he went to Iraq, now struggles to catch his breath when he walks. He has serious stomach and liver issues, migraines and acute respiratory problems, including reactive airway disorder.
“You almost feel like you’re drowning,” Roberta said, after gasping for breath during a coughing fit captured on video by an NBC cameraman.   “You want to breathe, but you just can’t.”
Roberta, Kimberling, Gentry and Moore’s family are part of a lawsuit by Army Guardsmen against KBR, charging that the company knowingly endangered lives by not informing them of the dangers.  The Guardsmen’s law firm, Doyle Raizner of Houston, Texas, has been gathering testimony and documents in the case.

KBR strongly denies wrongdoing.  The company acknowledges that sodium dichromate was present at the plant, and had contaminated parts of it.  But KBR claims it “acted appropriately and on a timely basis” as information about the chemical at the plant became known.  In statements to NBC NewsKBR also claims that it was the Army’s reponsibility to ensure the site was free of environmental hazards.
What’s more, KBR insists that there is no evidence proving that soldiers suffered illnesses or injuries because of exposure to sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali plant.
Former KBR employees previously filed their own complaint against the company, making similar allegations.  An arbitrator denied the employees’ claims for damages, arguing that the company was not liable under the provisions of the Defense Base Act, a federal workers compensation law applying to persons working on U.S. military bases outside the U.S. Without discussion, the arbitrator states that “claimants did not present sufficient proof of an injury compensable under Texas law,” where KBR is based.
We consulted Dr. Herman Gibb, one of the foremost experts on sodium dochromate exposure.  Gibb, an epidemiologist, spent 29 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, much of that time at the National Center for Environmental Assessment. He is the lead author of a 2000 study of the relationship between lung cancer and sodium dichromate exposure. (That study collected data on the exposures of 2,101 workers at a Baltimore factory, who were exposed to sodium dichromate between 1950 and 1974.)
In an NBC NEWS interview, we asked Dr. Gibb about KBR’s statement.
Lisa Myers: KBR says there is simply no evidence that soldiers were harmed by exposure to this chemical.  Do you agree with that statement?
Dr. Herman Gibb: I don’t see how you can say there’s no evidence.  I mean…they experienced symptoms that are consistent with sodium dichromate exposure.  The exposure must have been fairly significant to be associated with these symptoms.

In claiming no proof of harm to soldiers, KBR specifically points to red blood cell blood tests conducted by the Army’s Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine (CHPPM).  KBR told us the Army’s CHPPM had concluded that “no soldier encountered a significant inhalation exposure while guarding the facility.”
But NBC’s review of the Army’s report showed that what the Center actually reported was that the blood tests “appear to show that there was not a significant inhalation exposure,” and that the Army’s medical team “at the time felt that long-term health effects were very unlikely from the exposure as understood.”

And Dr. Gibb told NBC that the red blood cell tests were too insensitive, and conducted too long after exposure, to be conclusive.
“The test wouldn’t have been very reliable…taken so long after exposure ended,” he said.  “It would be like giving a breathalyzer test to somebody three days after they’d been driving erratically.”
KBR also claims that most air and soil sample tests indicate that “there was no danger from airborne contamination of the plant.”  Dr. Gibb noted that KBR had admitted that the Army’s and KBR’s air and soil and blood tests occurred after KBR had remediated the site.
Since our interview, Dr. Gibb has been hired by lawyers representing the Guardsmen to review material for their case.
KBR provided NBC News an executive summary of a report it claims counters Dr. Gibb’s testimony, prepared as part of KBR’s response to the previous claim by former KBR employees.

The trial for the Guardsmen’s case against KBR likely won’t begin until sometime next year.
Meanwhile, Roberta struggles just to get through each day.

“If KBR did know about this, before we were there,” said Roberta, “it should

have been rectified.”
“They said it was a mild irritant,” Kimberling recalled.  “That’s what I told my soldiers.  And suck it up and drive on with the mission.  Don’t whine about it.  You know, we’re here, let’s do our job and let’s go home.  That’s what we did.”
What upsets some of the Guardsmen most of all is that, after serving their country faithfully, they believe the Army and KBR let them down by not fully acknowledging or investigating their exposure to the toxic chemical or their serious health problems.  Some suffered for years and only recently have a possible explanation why.

In the last few months, the U.S. Government finally has begun to acknowledge their predicament.
The Defense Department’s Inspector General has launched an investigation. That was the result of a formal request from seven Democratic senators, including Sen. Byron Dorgan, chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, which has been investigating this matter for more than a year.  (The DPC held two hearings on the topic, one in 2008 and one this year.)
In September and October, following a hearing by the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee, the Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren, and the Secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department, Gen. Eric Shinseki, sent letters to Sen. Dorgan describing new efforts to contact and examine the 700+ soldiers who potentially were exposed to sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali plant.
All these efforts now should help exposed soldiers like Larry Roberta receive medical care, and perhaps eventually yield more substantive answers about how many were exposed to the toxic chemical, how many have health problems because of it, and why this happened at all.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SENATE DPC HEARING WILL EXAMINE FAILURE TO PROTECT U.S. TROOPS FROM HEALTH IMPACT OF BURN PITS IN IRAQ

Dorgan jpeg

For Immediate Release:                                          FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Wednesday                                                                    CONTACT: Barry E. Piatt

November 4, 2009                                                     PHONE: 202-224-0577

Tens of Thousands of Soldiers May Have Been Exposed:

SENATE DPC HEARING WILL EXAMINE FAILURE TO PROTECT U.S. TROOPS FROM HEALTH IMPACT OF BURN PITS IN IRAQ

( WASHINGTON , D.C. ) — Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced Wednesday the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) will conduct a congressional oversight hearing on Friday, November 6, to examine the health risks associated with the continued use of open-air burn pits by the U.S. military and contractor KBR in Iraq and Afghanistan .

The hearing is set for 10:00 AM and will be held in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington , DC .

Although military guidelines allow the use of burn pits to dispose of waste only in emergency situations, most large U.S. military installations have continued to use burn pits for years, despite growing evidence that exposure to burn pit smoke may be causing an increased incidence of chronic lung diseases, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and cancer.

Hearing witnesses are expected to testify that plastics, paint, solvents, petroleum products, rubber, and medical waste have been burned in the pits.

The hearing will also examine whether military contractor KBR operated the burn pits in a safe and cost-effective manner.

Witnesses will include the Air Force’s former Bioenvironmental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad, who warned three years ago about health hazards associated with burn pit smoke at the base, two KBR whistleblowers, and a medical expert who will describe  the adverse health consequences associated with burn pit smoke inhalation.

Details follow:

WHO: Senators: Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman, and others.

Witnesses: Lt. Colonel Darrin Curtis, former Air Force Bioenvironmental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad; Rick Lamberth, former KBR employee; Russell Keith, former KBR medic; Dr. Anthony Szema, MD, expert on health impact of burn pit smoke.

WHAT: Congressional oversight hearing

WHERE:                Room 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building

WHEN: 10:00 AM, Friday, November 6, 2009

WHY: To examine the health impact of burn pit smoke on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan , whether the Army is providing exposed soldiers and veterans with accurate information about the risks, and whether contractor KBR is safely operating the burn pits.

November 5, 2009 Posted by | KBR | , , , , , | 1 Comment