Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More Halliburton negligence regarding US troops

When you're being shot at, roadside bombed and scared shitless, maybe bad water is not at the top of your list of worries. But if you are Dick Cheney's Halliburton KBR subsidiary and it's your job, your responsibility and the very thing you are being paid to do and instead you supply contaminated water to US service personnel--well, you supply the rest of this sentence.
Water supplied to a U.S. base in Iraq was contaminated and the contractor in charge, Halliburton, failed to tell troops and civilians at the facility, according to internal documents from the company and interviews with former Halliburton officials.

Although the allegations came from Halliburton's own water quality experts, the company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney denied there was a contamination problem at Camp Junction City, in Ramadi.

"We exposed a base camp population (military and civilian) to a water source that was not treated," said a July 15, 2005, memo by William Granger, the official for Halliburton's KBR subsidiary who was in charge of water quality in Iraq and Kuwait.

"The level of contamination was roughly 2x the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River," Granger wrote in one of several documents. (AP via Yahoo News)
Bottled water was used for most drinking, but the allegedy contaminated water was used for everything else, and, as public health professionals know, probably for drinking too. That's always what happens with dual water supplies.

But Halliburton and the military say not to worry. Despite numerous reports of diarrhea and stomach cramps, the water was safe to drink, they say. But it doesn't say what the evidence is, and the concern here is that having a sewage outlet less than 2 miles upstream of the intake was a health hazard. Even strong chlorination of the water wouldn't have made it safe under those conditions because parasites like Giardia and Cryptosporidium have cyst forms resistant to chlorine. Nor would parasites show up with the usual water quality tests (which were abnormal, to boot).
[Water expert Ben] Carter said he resigned in early April after Halliburton officials did not take any action to inform the camp population.

The water expert said he told company officials at the base that they would have to notify the military. "They told me it was none of my concern and to keep my mouth shut," he said.

On at least one occasion, Carter said, he spoke to the chief military surgeon at the base, asking him whether he was aware of stomach problems afflicting people. He said the surgeon told him he would look into it.
We don't know if he did or didn't, although the implication is that nothing happened and no one was told about the problem.

But of course it's not about clean water, or electricity or clean food or security for Iraqis or Americans. It's about Freedom for the Iraqi People. And with so many reasons to be shitting your guts out, who is to say it's just from Halliburton's dirty water?