Archive for the ‘Oregon National Guard Qarmat Ali’ Category

National Public Radio coverage of Iraq vets’ exposure to sodium dichromate

Here is a link to NPR’s story on National Guard soldiers’ exposures to sodium dichromate while serving in Iraq. The story focuses on the West Virginia National Guard, though it also mentions that soldiers from Indiana and Oregon were exposed to the same chemicals at the same site.

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs convened a hearing on the military’s response to the exposure. This comes quick on the heels of the Department of Defense Inspector General’s announcement of an investigation into the handling of these matters.

In Oregon, our efforts on behalf of the Oregon Guard troops continue in the U.S. District Court case of Bixby v. KBR.  Onward.

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West Virginia National Guard troops file suit against KBR for exposure injuries

Add the West Virginia National Guard troops to the list of Iraqi war vets exposed to chemicals while guarding KBR contractors at Qarmat Ali in 2003. Here is a recent news story about the filing on behalf of the West Virginia soldiers.

Rocky Bixby and I met a few of the West Virginia Guard soldiers when Rocky and I ventured back to Washington D.C. for Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearings in August. I was struck at the time that the stories of representatives of the Indiana and West Virginia Guard were very similar to Rocky Bixby’s story.

As with the cases in Indiana and Oregon, we’ll be following the developments in the West Virginia case.

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Pentagon inspector general to review Army’s handling of troops sodium dichromate exposures

As reported in The Oregonian, the Pentagon’s inspector general announced yesterday an investigation into U.S. troops exposures to sodium dichromate in Iraq in 2003. Reprint here at the Oregonlive website.  Kudos and appreciation to Julie Sullivan of The Oregonian. She grabbed this story early and hasn’t let go. It’s nice to be reminded of the importance of old-school journalists.

As noted in the linked article, I’m appreciative of our elected officials’ commitment to these issues. It’s a long road ahead for our vets. I’m betting that they will stay engaged.

Here’s why I say that. It’s pure supposition on my part, but I  imagine that Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, Representative Schrader and state Sen. Shields share my motivation.

I can’t sit quietly and watch another generation of soldiers face the ravages of toxic exposures.  The Agent Orange stain of our Vietnam-era vets taught many of us that we must advocate for our soldiers.  This is especially true of those–like me–who did not serve in the armed forces.

So this is a positive step. We’ll watch and see and hope that the inspector general digs in to this horror. For the present, we’ll simply continue the efforts toward finding justice and protection for our vets and their families. They served and sacrificed. How we respond is a story that is still unfolding. I hope that when the story is written, all of us–the politicians, the lawyers, the journalists, and the citizens–can look back and say that we did our parts for our soldiers.

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Oregon National Guard vs KBR update: amended complaint

For those keeping track, we filed our amended complaint yesterday in Bixby, et al. v. KBR, Inc., et al., U.S.  District Court Case No. 3:09-CV-632-PK (D. Or.).  Here is a pdf of the amended complaint: plaintiffs-amended-complaint

The case arises out of exposure to sodium dichromate in Iraq in 2003. Oregon National Guard soldiers and others from Indiana, West Virginia, and the U.S. Army were exposed to toxic chemicals at the site while providing security for KBR workers.Sodium dichromate contains hexavalent chromium. It is extremely toxic.

In the meantime, we continue to receive calls and emails from current or former member of the Oregon National Guard who provided security at the Qarmat Ali facility. If you served there and are having health problems, feel free to contact me for more information about the lawsuit. It’s important that you understand that there are time limits on filing claims. If you qaulify to join the case and if you would like to pursue a claim, you must act to protect your rights.

Feel free to conatct me if I can be of further service or answer your questions.

Updated: 9 Oct 2009

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Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearings on Soldiers’ Exposures to Sodium Dichromate at Qarmat Ali

It was a chilling scene in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. The Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a two hour hearing on soldiers’ exposures to sodium dichromate at Qarmat Ali in 2003. Here is a link to the webcast of the hearing .

Oregon National Guard member Rocky Bixby represented the Oregon troops. I attended with Rocky.

Many people are owed thanks and recognition for their efforts., including all the senators who attended. Senator Dorgan, who chairs the committee, has been a force for change on this matter.  Senators Bayh, Rockefeller, Reid, Whitehouse, Udall, and Wyden also attended, each adding something important to the mix.

I wanted to particularly acknowledge Senator Wyden for taking time out of the pressing demands posed by health care reform. As well, Sen. Reid’s presence was particularly remarkable, as his leadership duties are demanding.

After the hearing, Senator Jeff Merkley made time to meet with Rocky Bixby. The meeting with Senator Merkley and his staff went well. It’s clear that they are concerned and motivated to help our injured soldiers. Rocky and I were so appreciative that Senator Merkley could make time to meet with Rocky and listen to his story.

Finally, I want to recognize the amazing staff of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. They did great work pulling together comprehensive proof presented at the hearing.

To our Oregon troops and clients, I can only say that the Oregon Senate delegation has made it clear by their words and deeds that they are behind you. And of course, that’s in addition to the Oregon Legislature, and Rep. Schrader and other members of Congress working on federal legislation.

To our state legislators and the Oregon Congressional delegation, I can say that our troops appreciate your words of encouragement and your efforts and kindness. They have a long haul ahead. We appreciate your help to date and hope that you can continue to find time and resources to assist the troops as this thing unfolds.

Listen to the hearing. It’s very disturbing. The men and women who served need our help. That’s why we’re in this thing against KBR.

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West Virginia National Guard members file hexavalent chromium injury case against KBR

Here is a news report on a recent filing by West Virginia National Guard soldiers against KBR for injury from hexavalent chromium while serving in Iraq. The West Virginia Guard soldiers were exposed to sodium dichromate at the same facility as Indiana and Oregon Guard soldiers.  Sodium dichromate contains hexavalent chromium, a toxic chemical that can cause cancer.

According to the linked news report, at least 125 West Virginia soldiers may have been exposed. According to the same source, KBR “‘did not knowingly harm the troops.’”

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Oregon National Guard medical monitoring bill passes Oregon Legislature

This is a belated follow-up on pending legislation to provide relief to Oregon National Guard members who were exposed to sodium dichromate in Iraq in 2003. By way of full disclosure, I’m part of a legal team representing Oregon Guard members who were exposed to sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali facility. We are pursuing claims for injured soldiers against KBR.

Background on the legislation is here.  The short version is that it creates a fund that will help exposed Oregon National Guard members who develop cancer in the future.  According to the legislative history, Sen. Carter carried the bill in the Senate after it passed the House, and it passed by an overwhelming majority.

It’s generally good news for our soldiers, with one hitch.  Unfortunately, the state of Oregon’s finances left the effort underfunded. But I’m guessing that Rep. Shields and others who worked tirelessly on this bill will see to supplementing the funding in the future.

Many thanks are owed to Rep.  Chip Shields and to Larry Roberta and Scott Ashby for their testimony.

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Single best news report on KBR exposing soldiers to chromium 6 in Iraq

Worth reviewing is this piece on the KATU website regarding National Guard troops’ exposure to hexavalanet chromium in Iraq in 2003.  Includes quotes from KBR officials.

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Bill to fund medical treatment for poisoned Oregon National Guard members still moving forward

In the waning days of the Oregon Legislature, word comes from Rep. Chip Shields that legislative help for poisoned Oregon National Guard veterans is still moving forward. HB 3480 creates a fund to provide future medical care for Oregon Guard soldiers who were exposed to hexavalent chromium while serving in Iraq in 2003. Here is a link to the current version of the bill. A minor disclaimer: this is only the version current as of the time I write this post. I imagine it will change before things are done.

Unfortunately, the state of Oregon’s economy and budget leaves little to fund the problem. Those of us familiar with the Oregon legislature know that things happen in steps and cycles. As a result, the first step of setting up the fund is the most critical. Finding more funding will have to come in the next cycle. It’s a longterm and on-going problem, so it’s best viewed as major progress.

I got a voice mail from Rep. Chip Shields late last night updating me on the bill’s progress. He remains optimistic that it will pass. A few things worth noting. Rep. Shields has been a terrific advocate for our soldiers.  As one of the lawyers representing sick soldiers, I can only offer my thanks. Thanks are due, also, to co-sponsors of the bill, Reps.  Barton, Matthews, Barker, Gelser, Kahl, Stiegler, and Vanorman.

Rep. Shields and his colleagues’ diligence and hard work merits comment. Moving any revenue bill in this environment is a minor  miracle. While it’s not done yet, simply taking it on has tremendous benefits. Rep. Shields has pushed the issue to the forefront and given needed assurance to our vets that they don’t walk alone.

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Oregon National Guard hexavalent chromium poisoning case moving forward

It’s just underway, and it promises to be a long fight. Even so, I’m proud to be part of the legal team representing Oregon National Guard soldiers exposed to hexavalent chromium at the Qarmat Ali facility in Iraq. The case involves KBR’s responsibility for leaving our soldiers in harm’s way.

The chemical compound is profoundly toxic. It causes all sorts of problems. KBR did nothing to inform Oregon soldiers of the hazards and covered up the danger when a few brave employees tried to blow the whistle.  Still new to this version of WP, so I can’t seem to upload the complaint, but you can find a link to the pdf here, if you are interested.

At this stage, I’m interested in talking to Oregon Gurad members who were at Qarmat Ali in 2003. My contact information should be available at the contact button up on the right.  (Matt is still tweaking things a bit, so it might not be there right when this is published.)

I’ll do my best to update with public information on this blog. Feel free to subscribe if you’re interested in this case.

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