View Full Version : CS Monitor: Iraqis grapple with post-war radioactivity

Jul 10, 2003, 02:43 PM
link (http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0710/p07s02-woiq.html)

American military radiation experts - arriving in the midst of sharp criticism of US forces for not preventing the looting of such a sensitive site - visited some affected villages two weeks ago. Though the results of their work is yet to be publicized, US officials in the past have downplayed the risk.

Col. Tim Madere, the officer in charge of coalition forces' nuclear-weapons search teams, in May rejected assertions that locals were suffering severe ill health as a result of contaminated equipment from Tuwaitha - or that missing material could be used by terrorists to make a powerful radiological weapon, according to The Washington Times.

He acknowledged in the same interview, however, that "there is still a potential health hazard."

Jul 10, 2003, 03:00 PM
That whole issue has been a hard one to deal with for me. On the one hand, did the Iraqis just not realize the dangers? Was the material not labeled as being dangerous? Is it a matter of illiteracy? I don't say this to downplay the seriousness of the matter but more as just a general fact finding kind of a question. We may never know so it's probably a moot point.

It does seem that Greenpeace were much more effective in getting people to return the barrels by offering new barrels in exchange while the US only offered $3 when a new barrel cost over $10.

More in line with what you posted zimv20, it is very troubling that the US would choose to downplay the seriousness of nuclear contamination. Also, that the UN team was not allowed to make any kind of a local survey to estimate the potential risk to humans.

There seems to be a lack of logic as to why the site was not guarded to begin with. Nobody could have anticipated the phenomenal amount of looting but the fact that the oil ministry was so heavily protected shows that the US had already made a decision about what to guard and what not to. That is very troubling.

Jul 11, 2003, 12:25 PM
Well, I think the administration screwed this up big time. I personally think that this should have been a guarded site. Still, there was much confusion going on because the war had advanced so far so fast and the "fog of war" was really setting in at that point.

Jul 11, 2003, 12:31 PM
has anyone seen pictures of these drums? i'm wondering if they were properly marked w/ the radiation symbol -- and the iraqis didn't know what that meant -- or if they were unmarked ('cuz that would make it too easy for inspectors).

at least one iraqi thought the contents were powdered milk and tried to drink it (ugh).

[comic shop guy]
Worst. Idea. Ever.
[/comic shop guy]

Jul 11, 2003, 01:01 PM
It's pretty sad that Greenpeace were the ones who had tp step up and run the barrel exchange program.

Jul 11, 2003, 01:40 PM
I wasn't able to find any images of the stolen barrels but Greenpeace has an article (http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/news/news_main.asp?PRID=552) that says some objects with radioactive symbols were found abandoned.

IJ Reilly
Jul 12, 2003, 11:45 AM
I'd expect these barrels were well-marked. They'd been inventoried by UN weapons inspectors during the early 1990s. Everything that was needed to be known about this site was already known, so it's nothing short of astonishing that it was allowed to go completely unguarded for two weeks, and insufficiently guarded for some time after that.

Jul 12, 2003, 12:01 PM
And don't forget the oil fields were secured within the week.

Jul 12, 2003, 12:04 PM
Originally posted by pseudobrit
And don't forget the oil fields were secured within the week.

990 wells, according to iraqometer.

Jul 12, 2003, 12:35 PM
Tuwaitha is a huge complex and I can understand not securing all of it but the most critical sites should have been earmarked from the start. The criminal aspect is that they knew from the UN reports what was there and exactly where it was located. Even worse was the claim that nuclear material was "discovered" only after UN seals were torn off. What kind of idiots were in charge? I can't imagine that the UN labels were not in English.

Jul 12, 2003, 12:41 PM
Originally posted by IJ Reilly
I'd expect these barrels were well-marked.

i wonder what the "literacy" rate is, worldwide, for recognition of the radiation symbol.

if the iraqis didn't know the symbol, sounds like some PSAs are in order.