NBC News Investigation: Former guardsmen suing KBR - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

NBC News Investigation: Former guardsmen suing KBR

NEW YORK CITY (KWWL) - An NBC News investigation shows some Army National Guardsmen are suing defense contractor KBR, accusing the company of putting their health at risk in Iraq.  We brought you a similar story in September when we introduced you to Iowa National Guard Sergeant Lee Jellison of Manchester.  He alleges burn pits used outside Balad Air Base caused him to develop lung problems.  NBC's report on Nightly News revealed dozens of National Guardsmen are suing KBR for lying about orange dust in the air.  It turned out to be sodium dichromate which had been used by the Iraqis prior to the war to prevent corrosion in pipes.  Scientists have found that the chemical can cause lung cancer in humans.  There were hundreds of clearly labeled bags of it at a water treatment plant near Basra.  The soldiers say it permeated the air during sandstorms.  They say it's led to breathing problems and in at least one case lung cancer.

"If KBR did know about this, before we were there, it should have been rectified," said former National Guardsman Larry Roberta.

KBR strongly denies wrongdoing.  The company says it was the Army's responsibility to ensure the site was free of environmental hazards and that tests done by the army concluded that "no soldier encountered a significant inhalation exposure."

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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