Unacknowledged Toxins Threaten Veterans’ Health

Oregon and Indiana Veterans report ongoing health problems  from exposure to toxins generated by US Contractor in Iraq:

“Early in the Iraq war, Oregon Army National Guard soldiers say they encountered environmental disaster in oil fields. Now it’s clear a deadly toxin also swirled in the desert air.

At least 48 Oregon soldiers assigned to protect contractors rebuilding a water treatment plant near Iraqi oil fields in 2003 were exposed to hexavalent chromium. The industrial compound, if inhaled, greatly increases the risk of lung cancer.

Last month, 16 Indiana National Guard soldiers sued Houston-based KBR, claiming the nation’s largest war contractor “disregarded and downplayed the extreme danger of wholesale site contamination.” The suit claims KBR hid its civilian workers’ elevated chromium levels and dismissed widespread symptoms — including constant nosebleeds that toxicologists call “chrome nose” — as sand allergies.

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is asking Congress to create a medical registry to track all soldiers and ensure monitoring, which President-elect Barack Obama and Oregon’s Sen. Ron Wyden already support.

In an e-mailed statement Thursday, KBR denied “any assertion” that the company harmed troops or was responsible for an unsafe condition at the facility. KBR has collected $28 billion in military contracts.

The fallout is just hitting Oregon, where officials worry that as many as 52 soldiers may have been exposed — more than was recently reported by an Army Review Panel.”  See details here: