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KBR, Halliburton Sued Over Burn Pits

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By Minara El-Rahman on November 10, 2009 1:15 PM

There are currently 16 lawsuits pending against American military contractors KBR and Halliburton, claiming that they poisoned scores of American troops by burning everything from human corpses to asbestos in huge open air burn pits.

These lawsuits also include a Turkish company called ERKA. However, this post will focus on the American parties named in these suits.

KBR was Halliburton's subsidiary until 2007. They are now two separate corporate entities.

The lawsuits center around large open air fire pits that allegedly compromised the health of American soldiers and private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The lawsuits claim that these open air pits emitted extremely hazardous fumes. The suits claim that the companies burned a range of hazardous materials in these pits such as human corpses, animal carcasses, and asbestos.

CNN reports that the attorney for these suits; Elizabeth M. Burke, of Burke O'Neil LLC, stated, "KBR utterly disregarded the safety of the troops when they chose to use open air burn pits and failed to use incinerators and other safer methods of waste disposal. The hazards of operating large open-air burn pits were well known, and KBR promised to minimize the environmental effects of the burn sites they operated in Iraq and Afghanistan. KBR willfully endangered these men and women who honorably served their country in military service or in support of the military."

The lawsuits are seeking class certification so that they can track the health of the plaintiffs, cover future medical expenses, and other damages.

What has been KBR's response to these rash of lawsuits? The company denies all allegations set forth in the complaints.

According to AP: "KBR spokeswoman Heather Brown said the company denies the allegations and follows military regulations on the disposal of waste.

'KBR operates burn pits in accordance with guidelines approved by the Army,' Brown said."

Halliburton has not set forth a response to the lawsuits yet. It will be interesting to see what they say. These suits follow after members of Congress have requested the investigation of the hazards that these pits may cause. There has also been a ban on open fire fire pits in a defense bill that is effective in 2010.

There will be more to come in the following weeks about this topic. In the meantime, check out our related resources for helpful links.

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