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Criminal Negligence

CNN reports on the electrocution deaths in Iraq: Green Beret electrocuted in shower on Iraq base

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) — A highly decorated Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth died a painful death in Iraq this year. He died not on the battlefield. He died in what should have been one of the safest spots in Iraq: on a U.S. base, in his bathroom.

Maseth, 24, was not the first. At least 12 U.S. troops have been electrocuted in Iraq since the start of the war in 2003, according to military and government officials.

This is a problem that you can encounter in Florida with people who install irrigation systems, they don’t test to ensure there is a good ground for the pump. In the old days you didn’t have to because all of the pipe was galvanized steel, so there was great grounding. Since the piping has shifted to PVC and CPVC you have to provide a separate form of ground.

Having worked on a lot of old houses in the area, I can tell you that you still run across ungrounded electrical outlets, or all of the grounding running to the galvanized water pipes.

All it takes to ground a pump is an 10-foot length of ¾ inch galvanized pipe driven into the ground, and a wire to connect the pump and the pipe. A standard grounding rod would be better, but I use a system that is water driven, not pounding to install the pipe. I use threaded pipe and attach a hose and let the water dig the hole for the pipe. It’s a lot quicker and you get a neater job than standing on a ladder and pounding on the top of the pipe. The water system does less damage to the coating on the pipe. The retail cost of a grounding rod, clamp, and the wire is under $30 and it takes about a half hour to install.


1 Kryten42 { 05.29.08 at 12:57 am }

Yep. I read about this at C&L. They did a couple stories about it.

Waxman wants to know why KBR is electrocuting US soldiers

Contractors Still Electrocuting Troops

The Army has provided little detailed information about the electrocutions, other than to say late Friday that 10 soldiers had been electrocuted in Iraq. A House committee has also reported that two marines died similarly.

One former KBR electrician was quite frank about what’s going on:

And Mr. Bliss, who saw a soldier standing next to him in Qalat, Afghanistan, receive a severe shock from an electrical box that was not supposed to be charged, said his KBR bosses mocked him for raising safety issues. They were “not giving the Army what it needed,” he said, “and not giving the soldiers what they deserved.”

It it wasn’t BushWorld, nobody would believe it. *sigh*

2 Fallenmonk { 05.29.08 at 6:49 am }

Have the contractors never heard of GFI’s? There should not be any electrical source in the bathrooms without a ground fault interrupter on it. I would consider it criminal negligence and it would be in most if not all places in the U.S. and, for that matter, in any civilized country. You would think with all the millions spent on facilities in Iraq that something so simple would be an issue.
If it were my child, husband or wife killed in such a way there would be some serious litigation in store for someone.

3 Bryan { 05.29.08 at 1:29 pm }

When the military doesn’t admit, until forced, what happened, it’s hard to complain. There have been a number of “suicides” in the war zone that stink to high heaven from my experience in law enforcement. It’s not “what soldiers deserve”, it’s what the contract specifies. They pay for this garbage without ever verifying it works.

They can’t use GFIs because they obviously haven’t grounded the system. GFIs won’t set without a valid ground, and it’s obvious there aren’t any. You wouldn’t use anything other than GFI outlets and UV cable on a temporary hook up like Iraq, it’s like the lines you run to a generator after a hurricane. Our generator has rubber tires, so I have a grounding stake and some #6 to deal with that issue as I don’t intend to get electrocuted after surviving the hurricane.

The contractors are corrupt and people are dying. Nothing is being done about it.

The military has its own civil engineering people, and they should be the ones doing this, but the Hedgemony has outsourced everything. You don’t hear about the problem at Air Force installations in Iraq, because the Air Force uses its “city in a box” system installed by an Air Force RED HORSE unit.