Don’t Drink the Water, Troops!
WASHINGTON– Outrage overflowed on Capitol Hill this summer when members of Congress learned that Halliburton’s dining halls in Iraq had repeatedly served spoiled food to unsuspecting troops. “This happened quite a bit,” said Rory Mayberry, a former food manager with Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary.
But the outrage apparently doesn’t end with spoiled food. Former KBR employees and water quality specialists, Ben Carter and Ken May said that KBR knowingly exposes troops and civilians to contaminated water from Iraq’s Euphrates River. One internal KBR email provided to HalliburtonWatch says that, for “possibly a year,” the level of contamination at one camp was two times the normal level for untreated water.
“I discovered the water being delivered from the Euphrates for the military was not being treated properly and thousands were being exposed daily to….
numerous pathogenic organisms,” Carter informed HalliburtonWatch.
William Granger of KBR Water Quality for Iraq reached this conclusion in an email after investigating Carter’s complaint: “Fact: We exposed a base camp population (military and civilian) to a water source that was not treated. The level of contamination was roughly 2x the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River.” Granger admitted that the contamination was “most likely ongoing through the entire life” of the camp, but that he was “not sure if any attempt to notify the exposed population was ever made.”
Granger had written a scathing, 21-page report to KBR management about water quality at Ar Ramadi. The report proves the company’s “incompetence and willful negligence” in protecting the water supply.
Granger has refused to comply with a company gag order and is convinced his employment will be terminated soon. In an email to Ken May, Granger said, “I stand by all of my email’s (internal or not). I have consistently been dogged in my approach that protection of the soldier, contractor, and subcontractor is paramount.” In another email to Carter, Granger said he would support Carter’s legal actions and that he’s looking into legal protections for himself as a whistleblower. “I won’t turn over any documents until I understand what is protected or not … but know that if called to testify or such that I will disclose all that is in the report verbally,” he said in the email.
Soldiers are often evacuated out of Iraq for non-combat related illnesses. The Association of Military Surgeons found that 9.1 percent of soldiers evacuated in 2003 suffered from problems of the digestive system; another 6.4 percent had nervous system disorders; 6.1% suffered urological problems; and 8.3 percent suffered from unknown illnesses.
In the early months of the war, the Army sent a team of investigators to probe a series of mysterious illnesses. Earlier this month, Canada reported an outbreak of gastrointestinal problems among soldiers serving in Afghanistan, where KBR is also involved.