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Army investigating possible chemical exposure

Maureen Groppe
Gannett News Service [1]
Wednesday, Sept 24, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Army will complete an investigation within 60 days into whether Indiana National Guardsmen and other soldiers providing protection at a water pumping plant in Iraq in 2003 were exposed to a deadly chemical.

Army Secretary Pete Geren said in a letter to Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh that the “senior level” review will look at the Army’s procedures for handling hazardous exposure, the actions taken to follow up with those who may have been exposed and whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers properly oversaw contract work by Kellogg, Brown and Root Services.

Geren said he also has asked for an independent review of the medical evaluations initially conducted by the Army about the incident.

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Bayh requested the Army investigation after congressional Democrats in June held a forum about the potential exposure at the Qarmat Ali water pumping plant.

Two KBR employees told Senate Democrats that workers and soldiers were exposed in 2003 to sodium dichromate, a known carcinogen, despite the company’s assurances that the site was safe.

Members of the 1st Battalion, 152nd Infantry of the Indiana National Guard were among the soldiers providing protection to the defense contractors.

Full article here [1]