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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Who ya gonna call? 

Here are some of the construction problems at the new US embassy in Baghdad:
... when the kitchen staff tried to cook the inaugural meal in the new guard base ... Some appliances did not work. Workers began to get electric shocks. Then a burning smell enveloped the kitchen as the wiring began to melt.
... The 252 prefabricated residential trailers, with either two or three rooms each, filled with formaldehyde fumes. The trailer manufacturer, a Saudi company called Red Sea Housing Services Co., confirmed to the embassy it had used the toxic chemical in preparing the housing. Red Sea told the embassy to keep the windows open and use charcoal in the rooms to absorb the odor, but "the fumes are still prevalent," the cable said.
...The embassy cable noted that five people had been identified at various times as the project manager, and that it was all but impossible for embassy officials to obtain information from them, with no one seeming to be in charge.
...fire hazards in the dining hall's wiring that were so serious that the few guards who had moved into the base's new residential housing were sent back to Camp Jackson.
"It was unknown as to whether similar wiring was present in the residential trailers," the cable said.
... KBR found that the reworked wiring "is still substandard," the cable said. The embassy also said that it believes it has discovered counterfeit wiring, labeled as 10mm when it was actually 6mm.
... First Kuwaiti provided only "minimal spare parts" for the power generators and "less than minimal spare parts" for the water-treatment plant, the cable said.
Finally, on May 25, a KBR hazardous-materials expert discovered that all 10 generators had developed leaks. The fuel tanks were installed without corrosion protection or leak detectors, and fuel had begun to saturate the soil around the tanks. The cable said that Teflon tape designed for water pipes had been used on the fuel tanks, and that such tape "will dissolve on contact with diesel fuel." KBR refused to operate the power generators unless its liability was waived.
How much does everyone want to bet that the largest and most expensive embassy in the world will turn out to be uninhabitable due to shoddy construction?
Here's who they're going to have to call:

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