Monday, March 10, 2008

Inside Halliburton On Camera

Ben Carter, a former Halliburton/KBR water purification specialist, discusses discovering Halliburton was providing dangerously contaminated water to troops, and the serious long-term implication:

Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing
“An Oversight Hearing on Whether Halliburton Has Failed to Provide Clean Water to United States Troops in Iraq” [pdf]
Ben Carter, Former Halliburton Employee, January 23, 2006

My name is Ben Carter, and for the last twenty years I have worked as a water purification specialist. I currently reside in Cedar City, Utah. From January 2005 through early April 2005, I worked for Halliburton subsidiary KBR at Camp Ar Ramadi in Iraq, also known as Junction City. Ar Ramadi is home to between 5,000 and 7,000 troops at any given time, served by roughly 70 KBR personnel.
Although I was hired to work as a water treatment specialist, I was not allowed to inspect the Ar Ramadi water delivery systems until more than a month after I arrived at the base... After a month, I was finally allowed to work with the ROWPU unit.
I had been told by the usual ROWPU lead that the water was chlorinated, and knew that such an organism could not survive in chlorinated water. I decided at that point to test the water in the employee’s bathroom for chlorination. The test results indicated zero presence of chlorine. I then tested at several other locations in the KBR section of the base, and discovered no chlorine at those sites either. I then tested the nonpotable water storage tank and, to my shock, realized that the water in the tank tested negative for chlorine; that the access lid of the tank was not in place, let alone secure; and that the air vents to the tank were turned upward and left unscreened, leaving the water supply vulnerable to contamination from dust, insects, rodents, or even enemy attack. I was stunned. No trained water treatment specialist could claim that the water was fit for human use.
When KBR site management learned that I was preparing a report, they insisted on approving its contents before I sent it to Mo. I did, and they offered comments questioning my conclusions. I have brought a copy of that e-mail exchange [pdf] with me today.
I accepted a position with Halliburton with the belief that my particular skills would be of service to the troops in Iraq. But when I tried to notify the troops that they may be exposed to a serious health risk, I was told that the military was none of my concern, and to keep my mouth shut. I don’t know how bad the problem might be — how many troops may have been exposed to untreated water, and how many might have gotten sick as a result. I can’t know, because Halliburton apparently has no records and refuses to acknowledge there might be a problem. I do know that I have been diagnosed with an unidentified organism in my digestive tract, and that I sometimes suffer from gastrointestinal problems that I did not experience before going to Iraq.

Let me conclude by saying that I’m here today because I believe that supporting the troops has to be more than a slogan. Our men and women overseas deserve the best our taxpayer dollars can buy, and it saddens me to report that we’re falling short on something as simple and essential as providing them with clean, safe water.
The Sludge Report - Halliburton moves to Dubai: