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Dozens of troops sickened by water

Both the military and a former Halliburton contractor are blamed for the tainted water.

Associated Press
Published March 10, 2008


WASHINGTON - At least 38U.S. troops in Iraq fell sick at bases using "unmonitored and potentially unsafe" water supplied by the military and a contractor once owned by Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, the Pentagon's internal watchdog says.

A report obtained by the Associated Press said soldiers experienced skin abscesses, cellulitis, skin infections, diarrhea and other illnesses after using discolored, smelly water for personal hygiene and laundry at five U.S. military sites in Iraq.

The Defense Department's inspector general's report, which could be released today, found water quality problems between March 2004 and February 2006 at three sites run by contractor KBR Inc., and between January 2004 and December 2006 at two military-operated locations.

The problems did not extend to drinking water, but rather to water used for washing, bathing, shaving and cleaning.

The inspector general's study confirmed AP reports on the contaminated water in early 2006 and provided more details on the scope of the problem.

At the time, Halliburton Co., then KBR's parent company, disputed the allegations even though they were made by its own employees and documented in company e-mails. Halliburton is the oil services conglomerate Cheney once led.

KBR, responding to the inspector general's report, said its water treatment "has met or exceeded all applicable military and contract standards." The company took exception to the inspector general's assertions. "KBR's commitment to the safety of all of its employees remains unwavering."

KBR provided water treatment to U.S. troops under a large-scale defense contract.

Navy Capt. James Graybeal of U.S. Central Command, which oversees troops in the Middle East, said the military has "taken the appropriate measures to correct the problem and ensure we provide the appropriate oversight."

Fast facts:

Attacks are not a trend, U.S. says

A rash of deadly bombings blamed on al-Qaida in Iraq does not represent an upward trend in overall violence, which has plummeted around the country in recent months, the U.S. military said Sunday.

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a military spokesman, said a recent wave of horrific attacks, including one on Thursday that killed 68 people in Baghdad, had to be put into context.

You have to "look historically at what has happened over the last year to really put in perspective a one week or two weeks' worth of activity inside Baghdad," Smith said.

[Last modified March 9, 2008, 23:25:30]

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