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Army Probes Possible Toxic Exposure in Iraq

POSTED: 02:42 PM ET, 09/24/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Senior Army officials are investigating claims that National Guardsmen were exposed to a toxin in 2003 while protecting a water pumping plant in Iraq.

Two employees with the firm Kellogg, Brown and Root told Senate Democrats in June that members of the 1st Battalion, 152nd Infantry division of the Indiana National Guard were exposed to sodium dichromate, despite promises from company officials that the Qarmat Ali facility in Basra, Iraq, was safe.

One employee reported seeing the plant covered in a "layer of bright orange dust" that was carried by the wind, Gannett News Service reports.

The Army announced the two-month investigation into the claims in a letter (PDF) sent from Army Secretary Pete Geren to Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) this week.

Meanwhile, the Indiana National Guard is still trying to track down some 660 soldiers who may have been exposed, The Associated Press reports. About half of those soldiers have been discharged from the military.

The soldiers underwent medical testing, including X-rays and blood tests for the known carcinogen, and the results didn't show any ill effects, the AP reported. But Bayh said the testing might not have occurred in time to accurately gauge the health effects of any exposure to the toxin.

One soldier died from lung cancer and another has been diagnosed with cancer of the sinus cavity in the past two years, the AP reports.

By Derek Kravitz |  September 24, 2008; 2:42 PM ET
Previous: Oil Traders Subpoenaed After Price Surge | Next: Ivins: 'I Know Who Mailed The Anthrax!'

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Another sickening example of the abuse of our soldiers for profit at the hands of KBR. Even worse TCN (third country nationals) were forced by KBR subcontractors to work cleaning up these toxic chemical without protective clothing or equipment and in some cases not even shoes! Witnesses say they broke out in blisters and open sores.

Posted by: marc | September 25, 2008 4:45 AM

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