2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 15 Apr 2003 19:15:08 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Leaving a Mess in Mesopotamia
Leaving a Mess in Mesopotamia
by Solana Pyne
April 16 - 22, 2003

Raw sewage courses through canals and riverbeds. Toxic clouds from
burning oil and smoldering buildings billow into the air, raining
particles on the countryside. Heavy metals and a stew of chemicals from
bombed industrial plants spill into the soil and pollute drinking-water
supplies. Iraq doesn't look as bad as a smoky Kuwait did in the
aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, but Iraq's air, land, and water have
been battered in 2003, and some experts say more Iraqi civilians will
die from post-war environmental problems than have been killed during
the fighting.

Even before the end of the current war, the U.S. had started
preparations to rebuild roads and airports, make water drinkable, and
otherwise mitigate immediate public health hazards. But it hasn't
addressed the toxic soup left in the wake of the bombings. The
Department of Defense has done no environmental assessment in Iraq of
damage, cleanup requirements, or costs, acknowledged Glen Flood, a
Pentagon spokesman.

Peter Zahler, a conservation biologist who supervised environmental
assessment of Afghanistan as part of the Post-Conflict Assessment Unit
of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), characterized the
U.S. and its allies as "very unprepared" to deal with environmental

Still lurking are such problems as unexploded ordnance—of the 20,000
bombs and missiles dropped in the first three weeks of this war, those
that exploded drilled noxious fragments into the earth, but those that
didn't have turned benign backyards into potential death traps.

"Post-war environmental deaths may exceed direct civilian casualties,"
said Saul Bloom, executive director of Arc Ecology, a San
Francisco-based nonprofit that has helped foreign governments analyze
the environmental impacts of U.S. military bases.

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