Casey Releases Latest Letter from Petraeus on Electrocution Issue

WASHINGTON, DC- After learning from General David Petraeus that he has formed an "Electrical Safety Joint Planning Team" to oversee the theater-wide assessment of all facilities following a series of electrocutions in Iraq, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today released the following statement:

"Last week's House hearing put on display that the Department of Defense was too slow and hesitant to respond to an emerging threat in Iraq: electrocutions of U.S. military personnel.

"While this is a step that should have been taken a long time ago, I am pleased that General Petraeus has formed a joint task force to not only diagnose potentially dangerous electrical conditions, but also make the necessary repairs and prevent future deaths. I appreciate that he has committed to maintaining oversight on this issue even as he transitions to the head of CENTCOM."

Senator Casey has pressured the Department of Defense (DoD) for answers on the issue of electrocution-related deaths in Iraq since learning about this fatal problem from Cheryl Harris, mother of Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth who was electrocuted while taking a shower in Iraq. Last week, Senator Casey, after meeting with the CEO of KBR Inc., William Utt, sent follow-up letters to Mr. Utt and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about what they are doing to fix the systemic problem of faulty wiring at facilities and prevent further harm to our troops in Iraq.

After meeting with Cheryl Harris, Senator Casey sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, demanding to know what steps the Department of Defense (DOD) has taken to ensure that no other soldiers serving in Iraq are electrocuted due to faulty wiring or negligent maintenance.

According to the Army Criminal Investigation Division, Staff Sergeant Maseth died when the electricity in the shower facility short-circuited because an electric water pump on the rooftop was not properly grounded. An initial investigation by the DOD’s Criminal Investigative Division office found that the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) was aware of the electrical safety hazard posed by this shower facility prior to the death of Staff Sgt. Maseth. The Pentagon has turned over the investigation to the Department’s Inspector General for further investigation.


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