There is a kind of leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia (AML) which is causing the federal government to take another look at the defense contractor KBR. A very large number of Iraq war veterans have died in recent years of AML, and KBR appears to be a major contributor to these deaths. Elizabeth Burke, a lawyer with Burke O’Neil in Washington, D.C., is representing more than 70 former military personnel, contractors, and their survivors who are suing KBR. The lawsuits allege that the Houston-based contractor, which has made a financial killing in Iraq, jeopardized the health and safety of American soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan by burning vast quantities of unsorted waste in enormous open-air burn pits with no safety controls.
KBR is accused of allowing thick, noxious smoke – coming off of flames sometimes colored blue or green by burning chemicals – to hang over U.S. bases and camps across Iraq and Afghanistan since 2004. It’s alleged that round-the-clock hazardous emissions from the burn pits caused serious respiratory illnesses, tumors and cancers in the Plaintiffs. It’s alleged in the lawsuit:
U.S. soldiers and other residents of the military bases and camps have become seriously ill, been diagnosed with serious and potentially fatal diseases and in some cases have died from the physical injuries and diseases caused by the exposure to hazardous smoke and fumes. KBR promised to minimize the environmental effects of the burn sites they operated in Iraq and Afghanistan and to minimize smoke exposure to people in and near the bases and camps. Instead, by forsaking safety for money, KBR willfully endangered these men and women who honorably served their country in military service or in support of the military.
The burn pits are so large that tractors are used to push waste onto them and the flames shoot hundreds of feet into the sky, according to the lawsuits. KBR allegedly burned waste such as biohazard materials including human corpses, medical supplies, paints, solvents, asbestos, items containing pesticides, animal carcasses, tires, lithium batteries, styrofoam, wood, rubber, medical waste, large amounts of plastics, and even entire trucks. It appears that KBR knew, or certainly should have known, that operating vast open-air burn pits jeopardized the health and safety of thousands of Americans. In an interview by Corporate Crime Reporter, Ms. Burke observed:
AML is typically a young person’s disease or a very old person’s disease. It’s very rare that it strikes healthy young men. We know that there are about 100 Iraq veterans who were between the ages of 25 and 45, who came back from Iraq, were diagnosed with AML. And all of them are gone. So, something has caused a chromosomal abnormality that is triggering this AML. When we talked to epidemiologists, they were just stunned by the numbers they were seeing.
The claims against the Defendants in the lawsuit include wrongful death, negligence, battery, breach of duty to warn, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract. Class certification will be sought in the lawsuit to cover costs of medical monitoring, future medical expenses, and other damages for other individuals exposed to KBR burn pit emissions. It’s high time for the federal government to ignore KBR’s political connections and call this outfit on the carpet and then make them totally accountable for their actions in Iraq.
Source: Corporate Crime Reporter
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