Halliburton Strikes Again
It’s a thankless task to be an American soldier in Iraq. Defective equipment, insufficient staffing, poor to non-existent planning by your “superiors.” And now, on top of all that — a contaminated water supply.
Last year, soldiers and civilians at an American base in Iraq (Camp Junction City, in Ramadi) were exposed to contaminated water. Who was the responsible contractor? Dick Cheney’s alma mater — Halliburton.
The company refused to warn residents of the base about the untreated water. Even today they’re still denying the allegations, even though company e-mails show that employees tried to get the company to inform residents.
The Halliburton official in charge of water quality in Iraq sent a memo on July 15, 2005: “We exposed a base camp population (military and civilian) to a water source that was not treated.” In another memo, the same official wrote “the level of contamination was roughly twice the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River.”
He also said the exposure had gone on for “possibly a year” and added, “I am not sure if any attempt to notify the exposed population was ever made.”
A Halliburton employee, Ben Carter, discovered the problem last March, and sent an e-mail about it the following day. Carter resigned a month later after Halliburton refused to inform the camp population.
He wrote: “It is my opinion that the water source is without question contaminated with numerous micro-organisms, including Coliform bacteria. There is little doubt that raw sewage is routinely dumped upstream of intake much less than the required 2 mile distance. Therefore, it is my conclusion that chlorination of our water tanks while certainly beneficial is not sufficient protection from parasitic exposure.”
Carter said he told company officials at the base that they would have to notify the military. “They told me it was none of my concern and to keep my mouth shut. They brushed it under the carpet.”
A July 14, 2005, memo showed that Halliburton’s public relations department knew about the problem.
Senate Democrats will be holding a public inquiry into this issue tomorrow. Democrats (led by Byron Dorgan) will be acting on their own since they’ve been unable to persuade Republican committee chairmen to investigate.