HOUSTON (CN) - An Indiana Army National Guard unit claims Kellogg, Brown and Root exposed them to carcinogenic hexavalent chromium at a water treatment plant in southern Iraq and when the soldiers got nosebleeds, a symptom of chromium poisoning, KBR said they were "allergic to sand."
Several of the soldiers who provided security for KBR's restoration of the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant have developed respiratory tumors, and two died from exposure to chromium there, dozens of soldiers from the Tell City, Ind. unit say in a federal complaint.
KBR officials "disregarded and downplayed the extreme danger of a wholesale site contamination," the soldiers say. KBR exposed the unit to months of unprotected and unknowing exposure to hexavalent chromium, "one of the most potent carcinogens and mutagenic substances known to man," according to the complaint.
"The Tell City, Indiana Guardsmen were repeatedly told there was no danger on site, even after KBR managers knew that blood testing of American civilians onsite confirmed elevated chromium levels," the unit says.
The extent of KBR's knowledge of the site's contamination was not revealed until congressional hearings in June 2008, the soldiers say.
"KBR is apparently still withholding from the United States Army the full extent of KBR's managers' knowledge of the dangers to soldiers," according to the complaint.
The unit wants exemplary and punitive damages for negligence, gross negligence, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The unit is represented by Michael Doyle of Houston.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.