U.S military contractor KBR, a former subisidary of Halliburton, is facing a number of lawsuits over its activities in Iraq, and elsewhere.
KBR is the largest contractor for the United States Army and a top-ten contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense.
In one class-action suit Joshua Eller, a civilian who worked for the U.S. Air Force in 2006 at the Balad air force base northeast of Baghdad, alleges KBR ‘knowingly and intentionally supplied to U.S. forces and other individuals food that was expired, spoiled, rotten, or that may have been contaminated with shrapnel, or other materials’.
KBR ‘supplied water which was contaminated, untreated, and unsafe’, Eller charged, detailing a number of examples.
(About the Video – former KBR Water Purification Specialist Ben Carter described in his Congressional testimony, KBR failed to provide adequate water safety, resulting in toxic drinking and bathing water.)
He said Halliburton and KBR ‘shipped ice served to U.S. forces in trucks that had been used to carry human remains and that still had traces of body fluids and putrefied remains.’
The lawsuit says the ‘defendants burned medical waste that contained human body parts on the open air burn pit. Wild dogs in the area raided the burn pit and carried off human remains. The wild dogs could be seen roaming the base with body parts in their mouths.’
Eller said the companies ‘prevented their employees from speaking with government auditors’ inspecting the military base.
Eller alleged in the suit that in May 2006 he developed lesions on his skin. The lesions spread, ‘filled with fluid and finally burst.’ He also ‘developed blisters on his feet’, and ‘gastrointestinal problems’.
The class-action lawsuit, a copy of which was obtained by newswire AFP, was filed November 6 in a Texas court.
Meantime sixteen members of the Indiana National Guard have filed a suit against KBR, seeking unspecified damages for alleged exposure to a toxic chemical at an Iraqi water treatment plant in 2003.
According to the Houston Chronicle, in their suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Evansville, Ind., the plaintiffs contend KBR knowingly allowed them to be exposed to sodium dichromate, a chemical used as an anti-corrosive but containing the carcinogen hexavalent chromium. The alleged exposure occurred while the guardsmen were providing security for KBR workers at the Qarmat Ali water plant in southern Iraq.
KBR was restoring the facility so the water could be used to help increase production from Iraqi oil wells.
The guardsmen allege KBR officials repeatedly told the soldiers there was no danger, even though blood tests on some civilian workers had shown elevated chromium levels.
And when some at the water plant began experiencing symptoms associated with hexavalent chromium poisoning — particularly bleeding from the nose known as ‘chrome nose’— KBR managers ‘told men on site it was simply an effect of the ‘dry desert air’ and they must be ‘allergic to sand,’ the suit alleges.
KBR spokeswoman Heather Browne told the Houston Chronicle, ‘We deny the assertion that KBR harmed troops and was responsible for an unsafe condition. KBR appropriately notified the Army Corps of Engineers upon discovery of the existence of the substance on the site, and the Corps of Engineers concluded that KBR’s efforts to remediate the situation were effective.’
Ten former KBR workers, meanwhile, contend they also were exposed to sodium dichromate at the water plant and have filed a separate arbitration case, said the Chronicle report.
They are scheduled to argue their case before an arbitrator in Houston on Monday, said Houston attorney Michael Doyle, who is representing the guardsmen and the workers.
Bunnatine Greenhouse, a civil servant with 20 years of contracting experience, had complained to Army officials on numerous occasions that Halliburton had been unlawfully receiving special treatment for work in Iraq, Kuwait and the Balkans. Investigations were opened by the U.S. Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Pentagon’s inspector general to open criminal investigations that continue today.
In one of the many examples of abuse, Greenhouse said that military auditors caught Halliburton overcharging the Pentagon for fuel deliveries into Iraq. She also complained that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s office took control of every aspect of Halliburton’s $7 billion no-bid Iraqi oil/infrastructure contract. After her testimony Greenhouse was demoted, allegedly for poor performance.
Separately, the SEC and the Department of Justice are investigating claims corrupt payments were paid to government officials in Nigeria by a company in which Kellogg Brown & Root LLC (a subsidiary of KBR) held a 25% interest. The investigations, mirrored by a separate probe by the Serious Fraud Office in the UK, concern the construction and expansion of a multi billion dollar liquefaction complex at Bonny Island, in Rivers State, Nigeria.
Additionally, the SEC has issued subpoenas to Halliburton and KBR over its connections in multiple other projects.