Lt. Col. Jim Gentry was exposed to the carcinogen hexavalanet chromium while stationed as an Indiana National Guardsman at the Qarmat Ali water plant in Iraq. Now, he has died of lung cancer at age 52. As we’ve written before, contractor KBR was in charge of the facility and failed to address the extensive contamination of the site until months after soldiers and workers there began having nosebleeds, nasal infections, and skin abrasions. In his article about Gentry’s death in the Evansville Courier & Press Eric Bradner reports:

“I’m dying now because of it,” Gentry said 11 months ago while answering questions from lawyers embroiled in a legal battle over who is to blame for hundreds of soldiers’ exposure to the chemical.

Gentry, of the 1st Battalion, 152nd Infantry of the Indiana National Guard, commanded more than 600 soldiers in Iraq, including about 140 from Indiana.

He is included among a growing group of those soldiers who are suing Houston-based defense contractor KBR Inc., which the soldiers blame for not properly protecting them. …

“I understand and accept there’s danger with my line of service, in my line of service,” Gentry said in the December 2008 deposition. “What’s very difficult for me to accept is if I’m working for KBR and they have knowledge of hazardous chemicals on the ground that can cause cancer and (they don’t) share that knowledge, then that is putting my men at risk that is unnecessary.

In other news:

The Canadian Press: Activist Mariano Abarca Roblero, 51, refused to stop campaigning to halt environmental damage from a barite mine in his community, despite having been repeatedly threatened and assaulted. Last month, he was gunned down in front of his home in Chiapas, Mexico.

Boston Globe: The Chemical Safety Board issued urgent recommendations to improve safety at a Citgo refinery in Corpus Christi, where tons of hydrofluoric acid were released and a worker seriously injured in July.

Chicago Tribune: Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and now suffer from cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s – all diseases linked to exposure to the defoliant – often face lengthy bureaucratic battles when they seek compensation.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Older workers tend to be more severely injured and more likely to die from their injuries than their younger counterparts; a report from a recent conference offers ways to ensure “work ability” for workers of all ages in a variety of work environments.

Environmental Protection Agency: EPA is asking for public comment on plans to strengthen assessment of pesticide health risk, including risks to farmworkers and farm children. (Read more from Jennifer Sass at Switchboard.)