Congressperson Barbara Lee will speak on Sun., Jan. 24 at 2 PM at the Enoch pratt Free Library, Central Library, Wheeler auditorium, 400 Cathedral St. Copies of her book RENEGADE FOR PEACE & JUSTICE will be available. Go to www.prattlibrary.org.
Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds
guardian.co.uk, Friday 22 January 2010 17.45 GMT
Pollution caused by the bombing of oil pipelines and the type of munitions used in two wars have led to health problems in Barsa, southern
More than 40 sites across
Areas in and near Iraq's largest towns and cities, including Najaf, Basra and Falluja, account for around 25% of the contaminated sites, which appear to coincide with communities that have seen increased rates of cancer and birth defects over the past five years. The joint study by the environment, health and science ministries found that scrap metal yards in and around Baghdad and Basra contain high levels of ionising radiation, which is thought to be a legacy of depleted uranium used in munitions during the first Gulf war and since the 2003 invasion.
The environment minister, Narmin Othman, said high levels of dioxins on agricultural lands in southern
Toxic zones in
"If we look at
"The soil has ended up in people's lungs and has been on food that people have eaten. Dioxins have been very high in those areas. All of this has caused systemic problems on a very large scale for both ecology and overall health."
Government study groups have recently focused on the war-ravaged city of
"We have only found one area so far in Falluja," Othman said. "But there are other areas that we will try to explore soon with international help."
The Guardian reported in November claims by local doctors of a massive rise in birth defects in the city, particularly neural tube defects, which afflict the spinal cords and brains of newborns. "We are aware of the reports, but we must be cautious in reaching conclusions about causes," Othman said. "The general health of the city is not good. There is no sewerage system there and there is a lot of stagnant household waste, creating sickness that is directly affecting genetics. We do know, however, that a lot of depleted uranium was used there.
"We have been regulating and monitoring this and we have been urgently trying to assemble a database. We have had co-operation from the United Nations environment programme and have given our reports in
Ten of those areas have been classified by
The head of the decommissioning body, Adnan Jarjies, said that when inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived to "visit these sites, I tell them that even if we have all the best science in the world to help us, none of them could be considered to be clean before 2020."
Bushra Ali Ahmed, director of the Radiation Protection Centre in Baghdad, said only 80% of
"A big problem for us is when say a tank has been destroyed and then moved, we are finding a clear radiation trail. It takes a while to decontaminate these sites."
Scrap sites remain a prime concern. Wastelands of rusting cars and war damage dot
"We can no longer in good conscience call ourselves the land between the rivers," she said. "A lot of the water we are getting has first been used by
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 17.45 GMT on Friday 22 January 2010. It was last modified at 19.56 GMT on Friday 22 January 2010.
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