"KBR had exposed the entire camp to water twice as contaminated as raw water from the Euphrates River. KBR was apparently taking the waste water... which should have been dumped back in the river, and using that as the non-potable water supply. Such problems had been happening for more than a year... No trained water treatment specialist could claim that the water was fit for human use."
That's from Senate testimony of a former Halliburton employee, Ben Carter, a water purification specialist. He's talking about water purification at Camp Ar Ramadi, home to thousands of US Troops in Iraq. Ben Carter tried to sound the alarm back in March of 2005, telling his higher-ups at KBR that they were leaving the water supply "vulnerable to contamination from dust, insects, rodents, or even enemy attack," but KBR wasn't interested in admitting the severity of the problem to the Troops who had been affected.
Today, an AP story shows that the problem wasn't just at Camp Ar Ramadi. KBR allowed dangerously polluted water to reach US Troops throughout Iraq. Wil Granger, one of the KBR whistleblowers, says, "This event should be considered a 'near miss' as the consequences of these actions could have been very severe resulting in mass sickness or death."
And people did get sick. Ben Carter was diagnosed with an "unidentified organism" in his digestive tract, and some Troops have complained of stomach problems, as well. From Marissa Sousa, Iraq veteran:
"The whole time I was in Iraq I had extreme gastrointestinal problems, that the medics had no idea what it was and the medications they gave never worked. I wasn't until I left Iraq that the bigger 'problems' diminished and I was left with occasional cramping and indigestion. I feel that if I had known earlier, this could have been prevented and I could have taken measures that I didn't have to use because I was being taken care of, such as hand sanitizer instead of soap and luke warm water at the DFAC. All of this would make the average person upset at this news, but to me and possibly others that served in Iraq, this is nothing new. If it isn't one thing it is another. Crappy armor, crappy water. Halliburton has become the slumlord of Iraq."
KBR and the DOD claim that the water supply is now safe. But for months, the American public paid KBR to provide our Troops with safe water, and KBR didn't hold up their end of the contract. IAVA's new Follow the Money Project, lead by chief investigator Dina Rasor, will be following this money to see how this could happen and who is responsible.
But we are the most concerned about the troops. If you're an Iraq veteran and you think you were affected by this problem, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. As we find out more about the pathogens and bacteria that the Troops may have been exposed to, we'll report our findings here.