This video from the United States Senate is called US soldiers exposed to Sodium Dichromate in Iraq at KBR’s facility.
From Associated Press in the USA:
Soldiers may have been exposed to toxic chemical
JASPER, Ind. — The Indiana National Guard is notifying nearly 600 soldiers who served in Iraq that they may have drunk water tainted with a carcinogen at an Iraqi treatment plant.
During a U.S. Senate hearing in June, senators learned that sodium dichromate — a cancer-causing chemical that can also cause breathing problems — was used at the Qarmat Ali water plant near Basra, Iraq.
Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Deedra Thombleson told The Herald of Jasper on Monday that the Guard has sent letters to most of the 140 current and former soldiers known to have been at that treatment plant between May and September 2003.
The addresses for 18 of those soldiers could not be found to send them letters notifying them of their possible exposure.
Thombleson said 448 other Guardsmen are also being contacted to determine if they were ever at the plant. Of the 588 soldiers being sent letters, she said 138 are back in Iraq. …
According to the testimony heard June 20 by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, sodium dichromate was used at the Basra facility as a corrosion inhibitor in water.
Indiana National Guard officials learned of the potential exposure June 27.
Paul Eckert of Jasper received his notification letter Friday. He served in the Guard for 10 years and was in Iraq with the Jasper-based 1st Battalion, 152nd Regiment from February 2003 to February 2004.
During his tour, Eckert went to the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant several times with a group to pick up water and supplies for their unit.
When he returned to Jasper in 2004, Eckert, 38, said he noticed a change in his health.
“I never snored or had breathing problems until I got back from Iraq,” he said Monday. “I have a lack of energy, and I didn’t know why. I’ve always been in top shape.”
Eckert also noticed blotches on his skin that burned and itched. When he got it checked out at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Louisville, Ky., he said he was given a medicated lotion that didn’t help his condition, he said. …
A fact sheet provided by the Guard states that exposure to sodium dichromate can cause sores in the nose and sores on the skin that tend not to heal.
Other symptoms include skin irritation, tearing and eye irritation, runny or bleeding nose as well as sneezing, coughing, wheezing and pain in the chest when breathing. Fever, nausea, vomiting and upset stomach are other symptoms.
Long-term exposure to the chemical can cause lung cancer, the Guard’s fact sheet says.
Eckert wonders if his late comrade, David Moore, might have been sickened by the chemical. Moore, of Dubois, died earlier this year from what doctors called interstitial lung disease.
While in Iraq, Moore escorted Eckert’s group to the water treatment plant and drank the water the team brought back, Eckert said.
Moore’s sister, Beth Pfau, said Monday that her brother had serious breathing problems after returning home in 2004. He saw specialists at Indiana University Hospital and elsewhere, but no one could figure out what was causing the problem.
“His breathing got worse and worse,” she said. “He was on oxygen at home for a while.”
Pfau said that in early January her brother checked into the VA hospital in Louisville, where he was eventually put on a ventilator.
He was 42 when he died at the hospital Feb. 4. She said her family has not heard from the Guard but they plan to contact officials.
Sodium dichromate is the same chemical residents in Hinkley, Calif., were exposed to and highlighted in the movie “Erin Brockovich.”
Staff Writer Sally Petty contributed to this report.
The Oversight Committee is currently holding a hearing, “Deficient Electrical Systems at U.S. Facilities in Iraq.” The hearing will examine electrical problems leading to the injuries and deaths of military personnel and the Department of Defense’s management and oversight of contractors. Chairman Henry Waxman has been investigating the situation for several months, see his letter to Secretary of Defense Gates. Witnesses from the Defense Department Inspector General’s office, Defense Contract Management Agency and KBR, Inc. will testify.
Pentagon Attempted To Cover-Up KBR’s Negligence In Electrocution Of U.S. Soldier: here.
Use of Contractors in Iraq Costs Billions, Report Says: here.