Jury Awards $85 Million To U.S. Soldiers Exposed To Hexavalent Chromium In Iraq | November 12, 2012 Issue - Vol. 90 Issue 46 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 46 | p. 8 | News of The Week
Issue Date: November 12, 2012 | Web Date: November 9, 2012

Jury Awards $85 Million To U.S. Soldiers Exposed To Hexavalent Chromium In Iraq

Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: Materials SCENE
Keywords: sodium dichromate, hexavalent chromium, Cr(VI), KBR

A jury in Portland, Ore., has ordered military contractor Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) to pay 12 U.S. soldiers a total of $85 million in damages after finding that the firm failed to protect the troops from exposure to hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, when they served in Iraq.

Each Army National Guard soldier was awarded $850,000 in noneconomic damages and another $6.25 million in punitive damages for “reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm” to their health.

During a three-week trial in U.S. District Court, the soldiers said they suffer from respiratory, skin, gastrointestinal, and lung ailments resulting from exposure to sodium dichromate, an anticorrosion agent that contains Cr(VI).

The Army Corps of Engineers contracted KBR to reconstruct a water treatment facility near Basra, in southern Iraq, shortly after the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. The Oregon Guardsmen provided security for civilian workers.

The soldiers alleged that KBR knew that the facility was contaminated with sodium dichromate but took no action. The chemical was used to keep pipes at the facility free of rust.

The company will appeal. The jury’s verdict “bears no rational relationship to the evidence presented at trial,” says Geoffrey L. Harrison, KBR’s lead attorney.

He says several U.S. Army officers testified that KBR communicated openly and honestly about the potential health risks. “We believe the facts and law ultimately will provide vindication.”

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