Military contractor accused of exposing US troops to harmful toxin in Iraq

December 23rd, 2008 - 5:57 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 23 (ANI): The controversial military contractor firm KBR is being accused of putting U.S. soldiers at risk from inhaling a chemical at their facilities in Iraq, which is believed to have caused lung cancer in many soldiers.

The military contractor Kellogg Brown and Root, known as KBR, has won more than 28 billion dollars in U.S. military contracts since the beginning of the Iraq war.

Now, according to a report by CBS News, KBR may be facing a new scandal, in the form of some American soldiers accusing the company of knowingly putting their lives at risk, by exposing them to a toxic chemical.

In April of 2003, James Gentry of the Indiana National Guard arrived in Southern Iraq to take command of more than 600 other guardsmen.

Their job was to protect KBR contractors working at a local water plant.

We didnt question what we were doing, we just knew we had to provide a security service for the KBR, said Battalion Cmdr. Gentry.

Today, James Gentry is dying from rare form of lung cancer, which he believes has been caused by inhaling hexavalent chromium - an orange dust thats part of a toxic chemical found all over the plant, for months at end.

Im a nonsmoker. I believe that I received this cancer from the southern oil fields in Iraq, said Gentry.

At least one other Indiana guardsman has already died from lung cancer, and others are said to be suffering from tumors and rashes consistent with exposure to the deadly toxin.

I didnt know I was exposed to a deadly carcinogen until five years later when I received a letter, said Indiana National Guardsman Jody Aistrop.

Now, CBS News has obtained information that indicates KBR knew about the danger months before the soldiers were ever informed.

Depositions from KBR employees detailed concerns about the toxin in one part of the plant as early as May of 2003.

In fact, KBR minutes, from a later meeting state that 60 percent of the people exhibit symptoms of exposure, including bloody noses and rashes.

But, according to Gentry, it wasnt until the last day of August in 2003 - after four long months at the facility - that he was told the plant was contaminated.

We would never have been there if we would have known, he said.

We deny the assertion that KBR harmed troops and was responsible for an unsafe condition, the company told CBS News in a statement. (ANI)

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