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.
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
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
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
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.