witnesses link kbr chemical to ill US soldiers

witnesses link kbr chemical to ill US soldiersfrom boston globe: US soldiers assigned to guard a crucial part of Iraq’s oil infrastructure became ill after exposure to a highly toxic chemical at the plant, witnesses testified at a Democratic Policy Committee hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill. “These soldiers were bleeding from the nose, spitting blood,” said Danny Langford, an equipment technician from Texas brought to work at the Qarmat Ali Water treatment plant in 2003. “They were sick.”

“Hundreds of American soldiers at this site were contaminated” while guarding the plant, Langford said, including members of the Indiana National Guard. Langford is one of nine Americans who accuse KBR, the lead contractor on the Qarmat Ali project and one of the largest defense contractors in Iraq, of knowingly exposing them to sodium dichromate, an orange, sandlike chemical that is a potentially lethal carcinogen. Specialists say even short-term exposure to the chemical can cause cancer, depress an individual’s immune system, attack the liver, and cause other ailments.