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Sunday, 4 November 2012

U.S. jury awards troops $85 million over Iraq chemical exposure



Image : Chicago Tribune.

An Oregon jury awarded 12 Army National Guardsmen $85 million in damages from defense contractor KBR Inc. on Friday after finding that the company failed to protect them from exposure to cancer-causing chemicals when they served in Iraq.

Each Guard soldier was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and another $6.25 million in punitive damages for "reckless and outrageous indifference" to their health in the trial in U.S. District Court in Portland.

"Justice was definitely served for the 12 of us," Guardsman Rocky Bixby said, adding that two of his children were about to enter the military. "It wasn't about the money, it was about them never doing this again to another soldier."

The Oregon Guardsmen were providing security for civilian workers restoring an oil industry water plant in 2003 in southern Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. The plant water was used to push oil to the surface.

The plant was contaminated with sodium dichromate, a chemical used to fight corrosion. Sodium dichromate contains hexavalent chromium, the toxic chemical made famous in the film "Erin Brockovich" starring Julia Roberts.

04/11/2012  :  By Teresa Carson  /  Reuters 

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