KBR sued by 30 W.Va. National Guardsmen over chemical exposure

Legal news for West Virginia personal injury attorneys. Thirty West Virginia National Guardsmen claim they were negligently exposed to a toxic chemical.

Wheeling, WV—Thirty members of the West Virginia National Guard accuses Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. (KBR) of negligently exposing them to a highly toxic chemical at a water plant project in Iraq. The 30 members of the West Virginia National Guard filed a lawsuit on Monday, October 5, 2009 in the Marshall County Circuit Court, as reported by the Charleston Gazette.

The lawsuit states, thirty members of the Moundsville-based 1092nd Engineer Battalion of the West Virginia National Guard contended they were exposed to sodium dichromate, which is a hazardous chemical that is used as an anti-corrosive in pipes. Sodium dichromate chemical also contains hexavalent chromium, which is among the most potent carcinogen and mutagenic material known to mankind. The National Guardsmen were reportedly exposed to the highly toxic substance while performing their guarding duty the Qarmat Ali site, which is a water plant near Basra. The Qarmat Ali water plant was undergoing repairs by the KBR Inc. from April to June 2003, when the active-duty soldiers were exposed.

The water plant is reportedly used to pump water to the oil fields in order to create enough pressure to extract the oil from the underground wells. The 30 affected West Virginia National Guardsmen are allegedly suffering from several medical conditions as a result of the exposure to the hexavalent chromium-containing chemical. The lawsuit also alleges the affected soldiers are going to need increased medical care and monitoring as a result of the exposure to the carcinogen. The Army identified at least 1,164 soldiers who may have been exposed to the toxic chemical, and at least 300 of those soldiers may not know they have been exposed. The number of the West Virginia National Guardsmen who may have been exposed was estimated to be around 150 people.

The lawsuit, filed by state Senator Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, named Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc., and KBR Technical Services, Inc. as the defendants in the lawsuit. The lawsuit asserts “[KBR officials] engaged in a continuing concealment of the facts of the contamination/exposure and danger and risks to the plaintiffs and others, including repeatedly advising the plaintiffs and others that there was no danger on site, even after the defendants’ managers knew that blood testing of American civilians exposed on site confirmed elevated chromium levels.” The KBR stated in an August news release, they are not responsible for the sodium dichromate present at the Qarmat Ali water plant. In addition, the KBR alleges when they discovered the chemical, they immediately notified the Army and took action to remediate the site.

This lawsuit comes on the heals of another lawsuit filed on September 11, 2009, by a Pittsburgh Iraq war solider who also sued the KBR for exposing him to sodium dichromate. Glen Bootay, now a retired active duty soldier, claims he was also exposed to the chemical while guarding the Qarmat Ali site, as reported by JusticeNewsFlash.com.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for West Virginia personal injury lawyers.