30 W.Va. National Guardsmen sue KBR over alleged chemicals exposure
Thirty members of the West Virginia National Guard filed a lawsuit in Marshall County Circuit Court, WVA, alleging that they were negligently exposed to a highly toxic chemical as they guarded a rebuilding project in Iraq in 2003.
The lawsuit contends that members of the Moundsville-based 1092nd Engineer Battalion of the West Virginia National Guard were deployed to the Qarmat Ali water plant near Basra from April to June 2003. The soldiers guarded the facility while KBR Inc. contractors repaired the plant.
"While performing their duties at the Qarmat Ali site, the plaintiffs were exposed to sodium dichromate, a toxic chemical used at the site as an anti-corrosive and containing nearly pure hexavalent chromium, one of the most potent carcinogens and mutagenic substances known to man," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit, filed by Jeff Kessler, alleges that KBR personnel either knew or should have known about the risk posed to the soldiers.
"[KBR officials] engaged in a continuing concealment of the facts of the contamination or exposure and danger and risks to the plaintiffs and others, including repeatedly advising the plaintiffs and others that there was no danger on site, even after the defendants' managers knew that blood testing of American civilians exposed onsite confirmed elevated chromium levels," the lawsuit maintains.
As a result of the exposure, West Virginia Guardsmen have a number of medical issues associated with hexavalent chromium exposure, according to the lawsuit. The soldiers will need increased medical treatment and monitoring, the lawsuit suggests.
The lawsuit names Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc., and KBR Technical Services, Inc., two subsidiaries of the Houston-based contracting giant KBR Inc. as defendants.
In an August news release, KBR maintained that it was not responsible for the sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali site.
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