British troops ‘knowingly exposed’ to toxic chemical during Iraq war tell of cancer battles and daily nosebleeds

Nearly 100 RAF soldiers were ordered to guard the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in 2003. They didn’t know it was covered in sodium dichromate, a deadly chemical that causes cancer.

Iraq war veteran Andy Tosh points to his nose where he was treated for skin cancer and shows the red marks on his hand.

His health has been permanently damaged – not by the baking heat of the Iraqi desert, he says, but by a toxic chemical at the industrial site he was ordered to guard.

“It’s clear British troops were knowingly exposed,” the 58-year-old former RAF sergeant says.

Sky News can reveal that nearly 100 British troops may have been exposed to sodium dichromate while guarding the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in 2003.

Ten British veterans who guarded the plant have now spoken publicly about their ordeal – and say they feel “betrayed” by the UK government after struggling with a range of health problems, including daily nosebleeds, a brain tumour and three who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Described as a “deadly poison”, sodium dichromate is a known carcinogen. The ground at Qarmat Ali was covered in it, according to the former servicemen.

The Ministry of Defence says it is willing to meet the veterans to work with them going forward – but the former troops say they want answers and accountability.

Before the US took over the site, the water was filtered and treated with sodium dichromate to increase the life of pipelines, pumps, and other equipment.

It’s a type of hexavalent chromium, a group of compounds made famous by the 2000 film Erin Brockovich, which dramatised the contamination of water around a California town.

“I noticed a rash on my forearms,” Mr Tosh said. “I’d operated in other hot tropical countries, I’ve never had a rash like I had on my forearms.

“Other members of our teams had different symptoms but at the time we had no idea why.”

It was a mystery.

That is, until two workers in hazmat suits and respirator masks turned up in August 2003 and put up a sign with a skull and crossbones on it.

“Warning. Chemical hazard. Full protective equipment and chemical respirator required. Sodium dichromate exposure” the sign read.

“We were shocked,” Mr Tosh added. “We’d already been on that site for months, being exposed.

“It was a different type of threat that none of us could really understand.”

US commander’s death linked to sodium dichromate

The plight of US troops who were exposed to sodium dichromate at Qarmat Ali is far better documented than their UK counterparts. National guardsmen who visited the site have become ill, leading to a formal inquiry and government support for veterans across the pond.

“While I was at Qarmat Ali, I began suffering from severe nosebleeds,” Russell Powell, an American former medic, told a Senate inquiry.

Within three days of arriving at the plant in April 2003 he developed rashes on his knuckles, hands and forearms, he said. Others in his platoon suffered similar ailments, he added.

Mr Powell said he had questioned a KBR worker about the powder, who said his supervisors had told him not to worry about it.

Speaking at a hearing in 2009 held as part of the inquiry, Mr Powell added: “My symptoms have not changed since my service in Iraq… I cannot take a full breath.” Lieutenant-Colonel James Gentry, of the Indiana National Guard, was stationed at Qarmat Ali in 2003.

“They had this information and didn’t share it,” he said in a deposition video, his face pale as he struggled to breathe. He was referring to contractors KBR.

“I’m dying now because of it.”

Lt Col Gentry died from cancer in 2009. The US Army deemed that his death was “in line of duty for exposure to sodium dichromate”, according to court documents.

Read full article by Michael Drummond on the Sky News website…

https://news.sky.com/story/british-troops-knowingly-exposed-to-toxic-chemical-during-iraq-war-tell-of-cancer-battles-and-daily-nosebleeds-13093915

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Ardrox 666, which contains hexavalent sodium chromate, running down the walls of the Irish Air Corps NDT Shop from an extractor fan in 2007

Hexavalent Chromium is & was widely used on a regular basis in the Irish Air Corps. It must be noted the Irish Air Corps ignored the chemical provisions of the Safety, Health & Welfare At Work Acts, 1989 & 2005 until the Health & Safety Authority threatened legal action in 2016 to force them to comply. This was after whistleblowing by a serving Air Corps member who was subsequently constructively dismissed.

Hexavalent Chromium and other very hazardous chemicals were used in the past by teenage apprentice technicians who had no chemical handling training, no education on the short or long term chemical exposure risks as well as no PPE.

Furthermore, when the Irish Air Corps discovered contaminated workshops in 1995 they hid this from personnel. When told by state body Forbairt in 1997 to to give all personnel chemical handling training, issue PPE and train personnel in how to use it they ignored this instruction too.

Some examples of chemical products used in Baldonnel that contain hexavalent chromium (chromates or dichromates) are listed below.

Alocrom 1200

  • Potassium Dichromate
  • Sodium Dichromate

Alodine 600

  • Potassium Dichromate
  • Sodium Dichromate

Ardrox 666

  • Sodium Chromate

Ardrox 670

  • Sodium Chromate
  • LR4871
  • Zinc Chromate

Mastinox 6856H

  • Zinc Chromate

Mastinox 6856K

  • Barium Chromate
  • Strontium Chromate

Mastinox C627B

  • Barium Chromate

Mastinox D40 

  • Barium Chromate

Mastinox JC5A 

  • Barium Chromate

Metaflex 1001 Wash Primer

  • Zinc Potassium Chromate

Metaflex FCR Primer Yellow

  • Zinc Chromate

PR-1422A

  • Calcium Dichromate
  • Magnesium Dichromate

PR-1422B

  • Calcium Dichromate

PR-1436GA

  • Strontium Chromate

PR-1436GB 

  • Calcium Dichromate
  • Magnesium Dichromate

PR-1436G E2

  • Calcium Dichromate
  • Sodium Dichromate

PR-1440B

  • Calcium Dichromate
  • Magnesium Dichromate

PR-1750B

  • Calcium Dichromate
  • Magnesium Dichromat

PS-870B

  • Magnesium Dichromate

Delay – Deny – Die

‘IT’S A SCANDAL’ RAF airman who flew with Prince William proves rare cancer was caused by the Sea King chopper

AN airman who flew choppers with Prince William has proved his rare form of bone marrow cancer was caused by the RAF Sea King.

Flight Sergeant Zach Stubbings was diagnosed with multiple myeloma after years of inhaling toxic exhaust fumes spewed from the powerful twin engines of the now retired aircraft.

Flight Sergeant Zach Stubbings, who flew choppers with Prince William, has proved his rare form of bone marrow cancer was caused by the RAF Sea King

And last month, the winch operator won a settlement from the Ministry of Defence after a six-year legal battle. Zach has been paid an undisclosed sum and the MoD had to admit in writing his 15 years of service in the RAF caused his life-threatening condition.

It will likely spark concern for the royals. Wills flew the Sea King in 150 search-and-rescue operations over a three-year period.  It is not known if he was affected by the fumes. Prince Andrew also flew the aircraft in the Falklands in 1982.

And The Sun can lift the lid on an apparent government cover-up of the issue.  Bombshell documents uncovered by Zach during his legal fight prove experts warned the MoD of the dangers of the Sea King exhaust as far back as 1999 but nothing was done.

Zach, 42, of Cardiff, said: “The Government chose to ignore it. It’s a scandal.”

Read more on the The sun

Solvent exposure and Parkinson’s disease

Shaun Wood worked was a painter and finisher  at Royal Air Force (RAF) bases across the world. During the early 1990s he was involved in the very intensive work preparing Tornado aircraft for the first Gulf War, in particular gluing anti-missile patches to the aircraft. This work was often done in confined spaces over long working hours.  He generally wore a respirator but these were not really adequate for the circumstances.

German Tornado Undergoing Maintenance

Shaun has been diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), which is a debilitating Parkinsonian syndrome that affects the nervous system. He is just 53 years of age.

Throughout his work Shaun was exposed to various solvents, but primarily trichloroethylene and dichloromethane. There is not a great deal of information about exposure to these solvents in aircraft maintenance. I have seen results from a survey carried out at an RAF base in Scotland where dichloromethane levels were measured during paint striping in the cockpit area of a Nimrod aircraft. There was only 1.5 m2 of paint removed, but the peak air concentrations were about 700 mg/m3. Results from three monitoring surveys where the British Health and Safety Executive sampled for dichloromethane during paint stripping on aircraft are shown in the following figure. The mean levels measured in each of these surveys were: 330, 790 and 1,960 mg/m3, and the highest individual level measured was 3,590 mg/m3.

Read full article on OH-world.org A blog about exposure science and occupational hygiene

http://johncherrie.blogspot.ie/2011/12/solvent-exposure-and-parkinsons-disease.html

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Below is a photo of one of the locations in the Irish Air Corps that used Dichloromethane, namely the NDT Shop of Engine Repair Flight. Yes that is a stream of the chemicals dripping out of the extractor fan and running down the wall. And yes that is dichloromethane, cresylic acid and the hexavalent sodium chromate all over the floor. The small barrel that is being dissolved by its contents contains Hydrofluoric Acid.

Some extracts from the Ambient Air Monitoring For Health and Safety at Work report dated 2nd August 1995

  1. Dichloromethane levels were measured in the engine shop in Wednesday the 12th and Thursday the 13th of July 1995 at the behest of Captain John Maloney who is still serving in the Irish Air Corps
  2. The level of dichloromethane found in ambient air in the engine
    cleaning area exceeded health and safety limits. 
  3. Levels of Dichloromethane were measured at 175.9ppm (622.5 mg/m3)  while the TWA health & safety limit for this chemical in 1995 was 50ppm.
  4. Significant levels of all parameters monitored were found in nearly all ambient air samples taken in the engine cleaning area.
  5. The ventilation in all areas monitored was deemed to be insufficient. It is thus recommended that mechanical heating and ventilation systems be adapted designed and installed in all areas monitored.

To summarise, the Irish Army Air Corps knew that Dichloromethane levels in the NDT shop in 1995 exceeded health & safety limits by 3.5 times yet officer management

  1. LEFT personnel of all ranks and none to rot in this exceptionally toxic working environment for a further 12 years.
  2. IGNORED the recommendation to design and install design a proper ventilation system, (they stuck in 2 x Xpelairs).
  3. NEVER re-tested the environment to see if the Xpelair fans worked, we suspect they made things worse by increasing evaporation rate.
  4. NEVER informed personnel of enlisted ranks that their workplace was contaminated to dangerous levels.

DELAY – DENY – DIE

26 victims of RAF cancer: Scots veterans launch legal fight against MoD for years of deadly chemical exposure after cancers ravage their squippers group

Scottish RAF workers are set to launch a multi-million-pound legal fight after being exposed to deadly chemicals which they claim caused cancer.

The Ministry of Defence have been accused of failing to accept responsibility for the horrific illnesses and deaths of 26 former servicemen who were regularly exposed to toxic substances at Scottish air bases.

The airmen and women were part of a specialist branch called “squippers”, who repaired aircrew survival equipment at UK bases including Lossiemouth, Leuchars and Kinloss in the 80s and 90s.

They claim deadly illnesses were caused by daily exposure over years of service to carcinogenic chemicals in poorly ventilated rooms with little or no protective clothing.

Many of the specialist engineers now have various cancers including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, throat cancer and blood cancer.

Read more on the Daily Record