[ RadSafe ] Guardian Article Claims Nuclear Contamination

Roger Helbig rwhelbig at gmail.com
Wed Jan 27 02:04:32 CST 2010

I strongly doubt that the facts really support some of the claims of
this article.  Any time that they claim that deplteted uranium is a
major source of radioactive contamination, it is pretty clear that it
is propaganda speaking and not scientific fact.  Does anyone on the
list have a personal connection with Guardian management?  This
reporter needs to learn that they are being conned and being used to
con the world.

Roger Helbig


Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination,
study finds• Greater rates of cancer and birth defects near sites
• Depleted uranium among poisons revealed in report

Martin Chulov in Baghdad 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 Iraq. Photograph: Dan Chung

More than 40 sites across Iraq are contaminated with high levels or
radiation and dioxins, with three decades of war and neglect having
left environmental ruin in large parts of the country, an official
Iraqi study has found.

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

The environment minister, Narmin Othman, said high levels of dioxins
on agricultural lands in southern Iraq, in particular, were
increasingly thought to be a key factor in a general decline in the
health of people living in the poorest parts of the country.

 Toxic zones in Iraq "If we look at Basra, there are some heavily
polluted areas there and there are many factors contributing to it,"
­she told the Guardian. "First, it has been a battlefield for two
wars, the Gulf war and the Iran-Iraq war, where many kinds of bombs
were used. Also, oil pipelines were bombed and most of the
contamination settled in and around Basra.

"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 ­Falluja, west of ­Baghdad, where the unstable security situation
had kept scientists away ever since fierce fighting between militants
and US forces in 2004.

"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

"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
Geneva. We have studied 500 sites for chemicals and depleted uranium.
Until now we have found 42 places that have been declared as [high
risk] both from uranium and toxins."

Ten of those areas have been classified by Iraq's nuclear
decommissioning body as having high levels of radiation. They include
the sites of three former nuclear reactors at the Tuwaitha facility –
once the pride of Saddam ­Hussein's regime on the south-eastern
outskirts of Baghdad – as well as former research centres around the
capital that were either bombed or dismantled between the two Gulf

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 Iraq had so far been surveyed. "We have
focused so far on the sites that have been contaminated by the wars,"
he said. "We have further plans to swab sites that have been destroyed
by war.

"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 Baghdad and other cities between the capital and Basra,
offering unchecked access to both children and scavengers.

Othman said Iraq's environmental degradation is being intensified by
an acute drought and water shortage across the country that has seen a
70% decrease in the volume of water flowing through the Euphrates and
Tigris rivers.

"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 Turkey and Syria for power generation. When it reaches us
it is poor quality. That water which is used for agriculture is often
contaminated. We are in the midst of an unmatched environmental

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