Palm Beach County is running so smoothly these days, what it really needs is a taste of Iraqi-style contracting. Private companies rake in billions of dollars supporting the military operations in that stunningly successful war, so why shouldn't they also earn a buck or two at home?
That's where Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) comes in. The Houston-based company is a former subsidiary of Halliburton. When Halliburton's ex-CEO, Dick Cheney, was in the White House, KBR was winning multibillion-dollar government contracts in Iraq--more than any other private firm. One of the many things KBR does in the war zone is perform electrical work and maintain buildings used by the military. Unfortunately, according to the Associated Press, some soldiers have been electrocuted and even killed while showering in buildings maintained by KBR. The company is currently being sued by the families of two soldiers who died after being electrocuted--one while showering, the other while using a power washer to clean a vehicle.
As the AP reports:
Last year, 94 troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan or other Central Command countries sought medical treatment for electric shock, according to Defense Department health data. KBR's database lists 231 electric shock incidents in the more than 89,000 facilities the company runs in Iraq, according to military records.
Now, these fabulous electrical skills are coming to Palm Beach County. The Solid Waste Authority--which is overseen by the county commission--has awarded a $126 million contract to a KBR division, BE&K, to renovate a West Palm Beach plant that converts trash into steam to produce electricity.
According to a KBR press release, the renovation includes upgrades to the plant's electrical and pollution control equipment. Hmm... Burning trash. Air pollution. Electricity. We're going to hand this over to the company accused of electrocuting people in Iraq? Wise choice, Palm Beach County.