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July 14, 2009 - Lawsuit Targets Chemical Exposure in Iraq

Seven members of the West Virginia Army National Guard are suing a U.S. contractor, alleging they were exposed to harmful chemicals while serving in Iraq.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Sunday the lawsuit filed by seven members of the 1092d Engineer Battalion alleges managers working at an Iraqi water treatment facility operated by the firm KBR knew the site was contaminated by sodium dichromate.

The soldiers allege the managers at the Basra plant failed to do anything about the industrial chemical, causing the troops on guard duty there in 2003 to be exposed to the chemical for three months.

Sodium dichromate contains hexavalent chromium, which can potentially cause a variety of symptoms such as nausea and skin irritation, and has been linked to cancer.

The troops' lawsuit against KBR, or Kellogg, Brown & Root Services Inc., is seeking unspecified reimbursement for medical expenses allegedly tied to the chemical exposure.

An unidentified KBR spokeswoman said the company informed the Army Corps of Engineers about the chemical's presence at the site.

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