Monday, January 23, 2006

If we make a bigger mess, we make more money

Halliburton has been giving our troops contaminated water, according to an AP story posted on this site: Halliburton Watch

Water supplied to a U.S. base in Iraq was contaminated and the contractor in charge, Halliburton, failed to tell troops and civilians at the facility, according to internal documents from the company and interviews with former Halliburton officials.

Although the allegations came from Halliburton's own water quality experts, the company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney denied there was a contamination problem at Camp Junction City, in Ramadi.

"We exposed a base camp population (military and civilian) to a water source that was not treated," said a July 15, 2005, memo by William Granger, the official for Halliburton's KBR subsidiary who was in charge of water quality in Iraq and Kuwait.
"The level of contamination was roughly 2x the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River," Granger wrote in one of several documents.
The Associated Press obtained the documents from Senate Democrats who are holding a public inquiry into the allegations Monday.

In another, more detailed, article on the same Halliburton Watch website, the whistle blowers are identified and a possible Halliburton motive emerges in the final paragraph.

...Former KBR employees and water quality specialists, Ben Carter and Ken May, told HalliburtonWatch that KBR knowingly exposes troops and civilians to contaminated water from Iraq's Euphrates River. One internal KBR email provided to HalliburtonWatch says that, for "possibly a year," the level of contamination at one camp was two times the normal level for untreated water...

The final two paragraphs:

Carter and May also describe instances where a site manager urged everyone to conceal contamination information from the company's health and safety department. According to May, statements were made in an "All Hands Meeting" by then Site Manger Suzanne-Raku Williams, Warren Smith, and acting Medic Phillip Daigle suggesting that if anyone became sick, it was probably from the handles from the port-a-lets toilets and not from water contamination. In response, Ken May resigned out of disgust and frustration. In an email to superiors, he chastised KBR for what he said was "retaliatory behavior from dishonest site management" and "inaction" that "compromised" camp safety and the health of the people who work there. He expressed concern over "the lack of oversight from the outside to investigate, redirect, and periodically monitor" the water to assure a healthy workplace. "Unfortunately, because of the lack of regards for my wellbeing [and] no response or action from KBR/Halliburton I have no recourse other than to resign," he said in an email to his supervisor.

Carter and May's experience is not uncommon at KBR, where former employees have described instances of being ostracized or terminated if they dare to speak out against company negligence, mismanagement or malfeasance. Other former KBR employees have testified about being fired or urged to quit or conceal information after pointing out low-cost solutions to simple problems. But, a cynic might note, allowing small problems to grow into expensive ones through purposeful neglect actually boosts KBR's profits as there is a profit guarantee of 1% to 3% over cost for the LOGCAP III contract. As with all of KBR's "cost plus" military contracts, the more expensive the problem, the greater the fee paid to KBR from the government. So, it would seem there is actually a built-in incentive not to prevent small problems or reward whistleblower employees like Carter and May when neglect will result in a costlier problem down the road and more profits for KBR.
emphasis mine.LINK

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