Guard warns soldiers of possible chemical exposure
JASPER, Ind. - The Indiana National Guard is notifying nearly 600 soldiers who served in Iraq that they may have drunk water tainted with a carcinogen at an Iraqi treatment plant.
During a U.S. Senate hearing in June, senators learned that sodium dichromate -- a cancer-causing chemical that can also cause breathing problems -- was used at the Qarmat Ali water plant near Basra, Iraq.
Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Deedra Thombleson told The Herald of Jasper on Monday that the Guard has sent letters to most of the 140 current and former soldiers known to have been at that treatment plant between May and September 2003.
The addresses for 18 of those soldiers could not be found to send them letters notifying them of their possible exposure.
Thombleson said 448 other Guardsmen are also being contacted to determine if they were ever at the plant. Of the 588 soldiers being sent letters, she said 138 are back in Iraq.
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This means not just the National Guardsmen but all the people in the area may have been exposed.