Global Policy Forum

Iraq's Hazardous Waste a Health Risk:


CBC News
November 12, 2005

A UN Environment Program report says Iraq has thousands of heavily contaminated sites that pose a danger to the environment and public health. A report by UNEP assesses five environmental "hot spots" that were bombed or looted during the coalition-led war.

The report finds all of these locations are contaminated by various toxic compounds, chemicals or pesticides. Four are situated near Baghdad and one near the city of Mosul, potentially putting millions of people at risk.

UNEP executive director Klaus Topfer says Iraq has a legacy of contaminated and derelict industrial and military sites. "There are older sites. There is history of contamination, linked with massive neglect of the environment."

About $40 million is needed to identify and clean up contaminated sites in Iraq, including $22 million for the construction of a hazardous waste disposal facility, and to enact environmental legislation, according to UNEP.

The report says it will take years to investigate the thousands of contaminated sites that exist in Iraq. Among them are 311 sites polluted by depleted uranium. UN staff members aren't allowed to work in Iraq for security reasons, so the project was carried out by Iraqis. More than 30 experts from Iraq were trained abroad in assessment techniques.

The UN Environment Program plans to begin cleaning up two of the most contaminated sites in December.

More Information on Iraq
More Information on the Consequences of the War in Iraq


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