IRAQ: Halliburton Gave Troops Foul Water, Workers Say

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Reuters

A Halliburton Co. subsidiary provided water to U.S. troops at a camp in Iraq that was twice as contaminated as water from the Euphrates River, former employees of the company said on Monday.

The subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root, also blocked employees' attempts to inform the U.S. military at Camp Junction City in Ramadi that the water was foul or tell them that water tanks should immediately be chlorinated, the workers said.

They cited KBR's failure to test or treat the water in the latest in a series of hearings Senate Democrats have held on Halliburton, which was once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney and has huge contracts to provide services to the U.S. military in Iraq.

Halliburton said in a statement it had found ``no evidence to substantiate allegations made by these former employees.''

While bottled water was provided for drinking and cooking, the soldiers at the camp used the contaminated water for bathing, shaving and laundry.

``We exposed a base camp populationto a water source that was not treated,'' said an internal e-mail from Will Granger, who was KBR's water quality manager for all of Iraq and Kuwait.

``The level of contamination was roughly 2x the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River,'' continued the e-mail dated July 15 of last year and released at the hearing. It said the exposure lasted for up to a year.

POLLUTED WITH SEWAGE

Ben Carter, a water purification specialist who worked for KBR at Junction City, told Senate Democrats that KBR officials had assured him the water was being treated.

But after Carter discovered a problem, he started tests and learned that the water drawn from the Euphrates and polluted with sewage and other contaminates, was not being chlorinated.

He said he treated the water tanks for KBR employees, and told company managers the military should be alerted to treat its tanks as well. ``I was ordered to concern myself only with the health and safety of KBR personnel,'' Carter said.

Carter said KBR was supposed to test the water three times a day to confirm the presence of chlorine, but ``To my knowledge, such testing never occurred.''

Carter said he learned from Granger that similar problems existed throughout Iraq.

He said Granger told him the Junction City water was doubly polluted because the military, which operated the purification system at that time, apparently was taking waste water from the purification process and using it in the non-portable supply instead of dumping it back in the river.

KBR now operates the purification system.

Rebutting the accusations, Halliburton said the military's own records showed the water was suitable for nondrinking uses, and that there was no documented case of unusual illnesses or health problems from the site.

Carter and another former KBR employee, Ken May, said they have suffered from persistent gastrointestinal problems and that many other people at the camp complained of diarrhea and other health problems.

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