Senators Seek Answers on Troops’ Chemical Exposure

The Houston Chronicle reported on Wednesday that almost “six years after American troops were exposed to a toxic chemical at an Iraqi water treatment plant, two U.S. senators say the Army has yet to give a full accounting of a defense contractor’s apparent failure to protect troops from the chemical.”

Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Evan Bayh of Indiana also said there’s evidence soldiers who helped guard the plant in the months after the 2003 American invasion may have been exposed to “much greater” levels of hexavalent chromium than previously disclosed.

The chemical, used to remove pipe corrosion, is a known carcinogen that’s been linked to lung cancer in people exposed to certain levels of its airborne particles.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the Army and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Dorgan and Bayh say Houston-based contractor KBR Inc. allowed soldiers to be exposed to the chemical for more than two months in 2003 even though they say KBR knew the plant near Basra, Iraq, was contaminated.

Their letter said KBR’s Army contract for the Qarmat Ali plant appears to have included a risk assessment of the site, but that the company failed to detect “what we all now know to be significant quantities” of the chemical.

Read the whole piece in the Chronicle, because it is just more evidence of how the Bush adminstration swept so much under the rug and what little respect they showed the troops who risked their lives fighting their war based on lies.

In June 2008, Senator Dorgan chaired a hearing in the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on the exposure at the Qarmat Ali water injection facility in Iraq. There’s information about the hearing here.

A copy of the letter Senators Dorgan and Bayh sent to Secretary Gates is available here: Letter from Senators Dorgan and Bayh to Secretary Gates.

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