According to General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, 13 Americans have been electrocuted in Iraq since September 2003. Those who died include 11 soldiers, one marine and two private contractors. Two electrocutions occurred at different housing facilities and involved soldiers taking showers. An Army criminal probe blamed improper grounding of an electric pump that supplied water to a building where the soldiers were killed. KBR, the contractor, has been ordered to inspect the facilities it maintains there for electrical safety hazards.
A lawsuit has been filed by the family of one soldier against KBR, the Houston-based contractor, which is responsible for maintaining the barracks. Thus far KBR has been paid $3.2 million for maintenance services under a contract. KBR has provided “only limited technical inspections” at the barracks and has performed no real safety inspections. The Pentagon has directed KBR to inspect all maintained facilities in Iraq where no prior inspection was performed and to “perform life, health and safety operations” on all other maintained buildings and make needed changes and repairs. How in the world could soldiers be allowed to use showers in facilities that were unsafe and hadn’t even been inspected by KBR?
The Department of Defense Inspector General is investigating the deaths, as is the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and that’s good news. Congress should conduct a through investigation of all KBR and Halliburton contracts in Iraq. The Iraq war is costing American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and there are lots of politically-connected contractors who are making a killing financially out of this ill-advised and highly political war.
It’s being reported that shoddy electrical work by private contractors on United States military bases in Iraq is widespread and dangerous, causing more deaths and injuries from fires and shocks than the Pentagon has acknowledged, according to internal Army documents. During just one six-month period — August 2006 through January 2007 — at least 283 electrical fires destroyed or damaged American military facilities in Iraq, including the military’s largest dining hall in the country. And while the Pentagon has previously reported, as indicated above, that 13 Americans have been electrocuted in Iraq, many more have been injured, some seriously, by electrical shocks. For example, a log compiled earlier this year at one building complex in Baghdad disclosed that soldiers complained of receiving electrical shocks in their living quarters on an almost daily basis.
War-profiteers should be held to a very high standard and should be held accountable for their wrongdoing. Any contractor doing business in Iraq must certainly be held to the highest standards when it comes to the safety and welfare of our troops. It appears that KBR has failed to meet even a bare minimum standard and needs to be taught a good lesson!
Source: New York Times
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