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British troops toxic chemical exposure in Iraq?

#1
From Courthouse News Service in the US. Anyone got anything on this? Exact location not identified in this article.

Guardsmen Say KBR Exposed Them to Poison
By KARINA BROWN
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PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Five National Guardsmen say military contractor KBR knowingly exposed them to hexavalent chromium during restoration of an Iraqi water facility. The men say that when they developed "chrome nose" bleeding, KBR brushed off the telltale sign, claiming that they were allergic to sand.
Rocky Bixby, Lawrence Roberta, Scott Ashby, Charles Ellis and Matthew Hadley claim that KBR's southern Iraq Health Safety Environment manager knew about the contamination in May 2003, but the company kept them working, and in the dark, for 4 more months.
KBR allegedly conducted a full-site analysis to identify hazards in April 2003, and billed the government for that work. KBR even continued operation for an extra month after 60 percent of onsite workers reported symptoms of acute poising, the plaintiffs say.
By late July, many workers suffered "continuous bloody noses, spitting up blood coughing, shortness of breath, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs."
KBR allegedly ignored repeated warnings of the site's contamination and refused to provide workers with protective gear.
When KBR managers shut down the site in September 2003, they inspected the site in full "Level C" environmental protection gear, but still left workers unprotected, the complaint states.
A U.S. civilian worker learned about the contamination from his Iraqi interpreter, but KBR management told him his complaints were not appreciated and that he'd "be better off going home," according to the complaint.
KBR safety managers allegedly claimed that the chemical is "a mild irritant, at worst."
People who have been exposed to hexavalent chromium have a 1 in 5 chance of developing cancer, the lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs say they provided security for the water treatment facility restoration project, and that KBR also exposed U.S. civilians doing the restoration work and British troops to the toxic chemical.
The soldiers sued KBR, Kellogg Brown & Root Service, KBR Technical Services, Overseas Administration Services Ltd. and Service Employees International
The plaintiffs are represented in Multnomah County Court by David Sugerman.
edited to add article date - June 10, 2009
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
IIRC therte was a thread about his last year in what was the multinational bit perhaps it's now in the US forum

I'm sure I've read very similler on here some where
 
#3
the_boy_syrup said:
IIRC therte was a thread about his last year in what was the multinational bit perhaps it's now in the US forum

I'm sure I've read very similler on here some where
Thanks for that.

There seems to be a fair amount on the web related to this, although the report I posted is a new one.

Location Qarmat Ali?
 
#4
Hackle will check. I think the article from last year related to a Water treatment works in Northern Iraq. Will check with the man in Portland for the full detail.

Does beg the question, as to what substances BRITFOR may have been exposed to during the six years of TELIC?

There are quite a few members here, who will have witnessed firsthand the Iraqi "inshallah" approach to COSHH and also the far from adequate (understatement of the year) handling and storage of chemicals used in both ministries and outside agencies in Iraq.
 
#5
Thanks ABrighter2006.

I originally failed to highlight in the Courthouse News report that British troops had allegedly been exposed to the contamination. Quick web searches suggest the site was the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant on the North side of Basrah. US National Guard troops were also allegedly exposed to the contamination.
 
#6
There is a good deal of US Military generated hazmat in Iraq.Various attempts to contract to clean it up,have failed due to the costs of such an operation.Neither US nor Iraq are signatories to the Basle convention,that regulates the cross border movement of hazmat.Looks like it will just be buried in some big holes in the desert!
 
#7
Interesting point, muhandis. On Qarmat Ali, there is quite a lot on the web and some of it specifically states that British troops were involved.

Therefore one assumes that this is old news to everybody directly involved, and that those British service personnel concerned have long since been identified and approached by the service authorities and appropriately briefed and offered tests, etc. This is not a question of causing unnecessary concern (I write as one with personal experience of the Gulf War Syndrome saga). As the contamination claims are already out there, individuals may already have concerns or may have them in the future without having the reassurance of expert advice.

I am hoping from the reports that with any luck, only a comparatively small number of British personnel might have been potentially exposed to this particular hazard. The issue could also concern British civilian 'contractors' and others.

As an example of the information already out there in the public domain:

I was deployed to Iraq on July 10, 2003. After completion of an in-country briefing, I was assigned, as HSE Coordinator, to the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant near Basra, Iraq. On my arrival at the plant, I made a risk assessment of the facility and surroundings. During the course of my assessment, I noted a reddish-orangish material spread on the ground and spilling from damaged bags in the injection building. I requested information on this material from the HSE Manager and was advised it was a non-issue. I pressed in-country management for identification of the material. In response, I was briefly sent to two other jobs before being returned to the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant.

Within a week of my return, I began to experience medical problems that included sinus, throat, and respiratory irritation. My co-workers at Qarmat Ali water treatment plant were experiencing similar symptoms. As an EMT concerned that there was a health problem, I began to query all English-speaking personnel working at the facility, which included KBR, Halliburton, Iraqi Oil Company, U. S. Army National Guard, and British soldiers, and all were suffering identical symptoms. The symptoms for all at the facility developed into continuous bloody noses, spitting
up of blood, coughing, irritation of the nose, eyes, throat and lungs, and shortness of breath.
Web source - Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing - “The Exposure at Qarmat Ali: Contractor Misconduct and the Safety of U.S. Troops in Iraq”
 
#8
hackle said:
KBR safety managers allegedly claimed that the chemical is "a mild irritant, at worst."
edited to add article date - June 10, 2009
The occupational exposure Limit is 0.005 mg/m3. But this elemental form of Chromium is a genotoxic carcinogen and the above statement is a bit like saying VX agent could give you a mild dose of diarrhoea. And the damage can be passed on to their offspring. I hope the US Courts take these feckers to the cleaners financially and jail some guilty barstewards as well.
 

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