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Iraq’s Toxic Conflict

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In Iraq, thirty years of armed conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people, wounded countless more, displaced millions and laid cities and towns to waste.

Amongst all of this death and destruction, there is an often-overlooked victim whose harm has far reaching consequences: The environment.

Whilst Iraq’s environment has suffered from degradation due to conflict for decades, in recent years it has been exacerbated due to the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).

“Wherever ISIS has been there has been huge environmental destruction and with that have come potentially major health threats to the public,” says Wim Zwijnenburg, a lead researcher at the dutch not-for profit, PAX.

Over the past two years, PAX has used public satellite images, social media and first-hand field research to track the environmental damage and the subsequent risk to public health in the northern parts of Iraq.

The findings are outlined in the report, ‘Living Under a Black Sky: Conflict Pollution and Environmental Health Concerns in Iraq.’

The report focuses heavily on ISIS’s destruction of oil refineries which were a signature move in their ‘scorched earth’ strategy.

In 2014, the group took control of the Qayyarah oil field and the Baiji Oil refinery, the latter being the nation’s largest, producing more than a third of Iraq’s domestic oil production. In both cases, Iraqi forces retook the facilities, but not before ISIS set fire to oil wells as they retreated.

“When we were there, there were burning oil slicks still flowing from oil wells,” Zwijnenburg said about his visit to the Qayyarah region last year. “I wanted to walk around to see more but had to wear a gas mask, you could already feel how the smoke affected young lungs.”

“We saw lakes that were full of solidified crude oil, that had spilt form the wells, and there were white sheep covered in black soot. It was surreal and apocalyptic.”

In each of these attacks, the threat to public health is substantial.

“The fires (from these oil wells) have burnt for months, releasing huge amounts of toxic residue into the air that people in the area – some people haven’t left, some can’t leave, some are returning – those people are inhaling this toxic air,” Zwijnenburg told IPS.

In the case of the Qayyarah, the Iraqi oil ministry estimates that about 20,000 cubic meters may have been released into the environment and haven’t been cleaned up yet.

In April 2017, the PAX team in conjunction with the United Nations Development programme (UNDP) conducted a survey with over twenty women from affected local communities about their concerns over the oil pollution in Qayyarah.

One of the participants voiced her worry for inter-generational health consequences.

“Locals have been suffering from burns, deformations and countless disability cases. Human genes are also affected due to the use of chemical weapons and the burning of oil wells and military remnants. The gene mutations will result in having more birth defects.”

Aside from oil pollution, the PAX report also highlighted the human health risks from what it called ‘urban damage’. That is, the dangerous amounts of toxic chemicals realized from damaged industrial sites and abandoned weapons facilities.

There has been extensive PCB (Polychlorinated biphenyl) contamination in Mosul, due to damage to the city’s electricity network. Similarly, the city has recorded extensive sulphur contamination, from when ISIS bombed a 50,000 ton stockpile of the toxin. That attack released some 6 million tons of the substance into the air, leaving 20 people dead and hundreds hospitalized.

These other pollutant concerns are not surprising, as even before the ISIS conflict, Iraq was named the world’s most contaminated country.

It continues to see high levels of radiation and other toxic substances flow into its environment – all left over from previous conflicts such as the Gulf War.

So the question now is, how to clean up the region?

In a statement to IPS, Dr. Zaid Noori, an ambassador of Iraq in Nairobi, admitted that “Iraq is an environmental disaster” and that the Iraqi government needs help in cleaning up affected areas.

“The Government is doing all it can to remedy the situation, but due to the great amount of damage, pollution and contamination Iraq is seeking support and assistance from the international community and UN agencies to ensure clean and habitable environment to civilians in the liberated areas,” the statement read.

The PAX report similarly noted that Iraq would not likely be able to clean up the pollution and manage health fallouts alone.

“It really needs to be an international effort,” says Zwijnenburg. “We should have States pledging and proving funding and expertise to relevant UN organizations such an UN Environment, UN Habitat and UNDP – all of who are working with the Iraqi government.”

Currently, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is concentrating much of its efforts in Mosul, cleaning up ‘urban damage’.

There is no current international effort to clean up the regions oil pollution.

Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, told IPS that it is regrettable that environmental recovery work is not taken more seriously in reconstruction efforts.

“If environmental recovery work is built into the wider reconstruction effort – which it should be – recovery can and will happen in Iraq,” he says. “Now is the time for donors to make that investment, because we can’t afford to push it to one side.”

Zwijnenburg agrees. “Environment disasters like this are not always the top priority in recovery,” he says.

“The people living here know that and they’re concerned that as the fires die down, as time passes, that that their cause will be forgotten.”



33 Comments on "Iraq’s Toxic Conflict"

  1. Davy on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 7:05 am 

    This is an American sin little more needs to be said. There is more to it but not much.

  2. Jef on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:21 am 

    WE killed well over 500,000 CHILDREN in Iraq even before 911. WE killed well over a million women and children in the worst possible way by the time dessert storm ended. The death toll of innocent civilians continued and still continues to this day due to the destruction of all of the basic infrastructure required for basic health of the population.

    WE have repeated this process many times in the middle east and Africa. Bombing back to the stone age brings on famine, disease, thirst, all of which means a slow horrible death to innocents.

    WE have killed millions of innocent people in operations that were either illegal or done under proven false pretenses.

    Proud to be an American hu raaaaa!

  3. eugene on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:33 am 

    There would be no ISIS without America. But I forget, we are the good, the brave, the wonderful and, most of all, so blissfully ignorant. It truly helps to be ignorant as it allows blaming, self righteousness and arrogance. The Middle East certainly has some problems but European and American constantly intervening for well over a hundred yrs plays a major role.

  4. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:35 am 

    There will be no world war because globalization will not allow it! Its just nonsense scaremongering to distract you while we go down the Hubbert curve!

  5. Mad Kat on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:35 am 

    Jef, yes, Americans enjoy innocent blood in every gallon of gas that they use. Every murder makes more enemies of America. They don’t hate Americans for their freedoms. They hate them because of the terror and killing they have done all around the world since … well, 1492, and especially in this century. Blow-back is going to be a terrible bitch and this American generation is going to get all of it, I think.

  6. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:43 am 


    If the US wasn’t doing the looting and killing someone else would…Why is this concept so hard to understand! Save me your self righteousness!

  7. Mad Kat on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:44 am 

    Not mentioned:

    ” Iraq Is Now A Radioactive Wasteland – Depleted Uranium Poisoning Is Starting To Take Its Toll Upon The Civilian Population”

    “Wassim is one of the victims of the massive bombing of Fallujah in 2004, when the US army admittedly used depleted uranium munitions, which contain low-level radioactive waste.”

    “US Radiation In Iraq Equals 250,000 Nagasaki Bombs”

    “This article is about how much radioactive uranium our guys, representing us, the citizens of the United States, let fly in Iraq. Turns out they used about 4,000,000 pounds of the stuff, give or take. That is a bunch.”

    ” Depleted Uranium – One Of The Greatest Environmental Horrors In The History Of The World”

    “Iraq’s Minister of Human Rights, Wijdan Mikhail Salim, reportedly told the Assabah newspaper that the lawsuit will be based on reports from the Iraqi
    ministries of science and the environment. These reports allege that the U.S. and the U.K. used nearly 2,000 tons of depleted uranium bombs during the early years of the the Iraq war.”

    “Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds”

    “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.”

    And on and on. Yep! They hate us for our freedoms. Blow-back is coming to America. Be patient.

  8. Cloggie on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:57 am 

    “If the US wasn’t doing the looting and killing someone else would…Why is this concept so hard to understand! Save me your self righteousness!”

    Like who, apneaman?

    The US is owned and run by your tribe, who love to imagine they are “Gods Chosen People” who think they should own the world, now that they already own America and in 1945 conquered Europe.

    The rest of the world begs to differ. It’s not going to happen. You and your water carriers a la Davy, boat and supertard, got the message? Ignore the warning at your own peril.

    Now when was the last time you folks got a well-deserved good beating?

  9. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:57 am 


    Those nukes sure got the job done quick didn’t they? LOL who cares about some stupid imbread towel heads in the middle east!

  10. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:59 am 

    Who’s ready for Spring?

  11. Davy on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 10:03 am 

    Neder, it all comes back to you Eurotards so you are disqualified from commenting on original sin. Your Euroland is the evil one from the very start of this process of waring, enslaving, destroying a beautiful world.

  12. fmr-paultard on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 11:22 am 

    the only peaceful people are christians because supreme tard taught us to turn the other cheek. this has the benefit of nerve calming and allowing for emergence of supertards who gave us safe electricity. if it’s all about conquest and chop-chop then free inquiry wouldn’t be possible or extremely difficult and no safe electricity, only suicide shower

    But what a heavy price to pay. supreme tard must be insane! and now pope francis is oblivious to the persecution of christians in the ME, those countries which were formerly majority Christians. Thanks goodness for Luke 22:36

    “Meanwhile, while Catholic leaders have been pedaling this rosy picture of Islam, 90,000 Christians were murdered for their faith in 2016. Between 2005 and 2015, 900,000 Christians were martyred. In most cases the executioners were Muslims”

    keep killing my people. when the next crusade i’m going to own a thousand healthy male muslim slaves to compensate for PO

  13. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 11:39 am 

    Our collapse is like snow accumulating on a mountain side. Nobody knows what will be the snowflake that starts the avalanche, nor when it will start. We just know it will happen…

  14. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 11:40 am 


    Behold clogg’s master race that are going to overthrow the jews!

  15. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 11:42 am 


    Madkat and clog have micro penis’s and suffer pre mature ejaculation. Thus the never ending hate and over compensation.

  16. Cloggie on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 11:51 am 


    Madkat and clog have micro penis’s and suffer pre mature ejaculation. Thus the never ending hate and over compensation.

    You have a loyal buddy to play with, Davy.
    Happy now?

    Neder, it all comes back to you Eurotards so you are disqualified from commenting on original sin. Your Euroland is the evil one from the very start of this process of waring, enslaving, destroying a beautiful world.

    Sorry for breaking it to you, but everybody wants to live European lives; nobody wants to go back to 1500.

    Davy the XXL hypocrite owned a private plane, still owns a car, obviously an iPhone, solar panels, has hundreds of thousands in the bank and wants to lecture Europe about all its marvels he like no other enjoyed.

    You are unbearable at times (most of the time actually).

  17. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 11:55 am 

    The End of the Oil Age is Imminent

    Recently, the HSBC oil report stated that 80% of conventional oil fields were declining at a rate of 5-7% per year. This means that there will be an oil shortage of ~30 million barrels per day by 2030 and ~40 million barrels per day by 2040.

    What is mentioned far less often is that annual oil discoveries have lagged annual production since the 1980s.

    Now, this problem has nothing to do with the recent decline in the oil price, which started in 2014. This has been an on-going problem for the past 30 years. Now, the IEA is predicting oil shortages by ~2020 due to declining exploration.

    Here, the IEA blames this problem on the low oil price. But, this problem started in the 1980s. The problem is geological: we are running out of conventional cheap oil. Shale and tar sands are not the answer, either. Those resources are far too expensive, compared to conventional oil, because the global economy is based on cheap conventional oil. Expensive oil is not a replacement for cheap oil.

    Based upon the HSBC report and the IEA, the End of Oil Age will start around ~2020: there will be a dramatic economic depression due to exhaustion of cheap oil. This will cause a global economic collapse.

  18. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 12:00 pm 

    Existing oil reserves are scheduled to begin a catastrophic crash within 1 to 3 years. When it hits the economic and social damage will be catastrophic. The end of Western Civilization, from China to Europe, to the US, will not occur when oil runs out. The economic and social chaos will occur when supplies are merely reduced sufficiently….

  19. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 12:01 pm 

    Dear Reader,

    Here are five peer reviewed scientific studies authored by top experts that prove beyond any reasonable doubt that global civilization will collapse within the next decade.

    Simple really….when the World Economy Collapses everything shuts down…the end… We’re talking about grids down all over the world and 7.5B people dropping like f*** flies in short order. The collapse will be absolutely horrible..There is no collapse or horror movie ever produced that has even come close to imagining what the collapse of BAU might look like. I’m talking about every corporation and every social program going bankrupt at once. I’m talking about people eating people. I’m talking about the Worst Catastrophe to ever happen in the history of mankind. Nothing has ever, or will ever come close….

  20. Boat on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 12:07 pm 

    War in the Middle East creates overpopulation.

    Afghanistan 2000…20 million…2018…36 million.

    Iraq 2003…25 million…2018…25 million

    Lybia 2000…5.3 million…2018…6.4 million.

  21. Boat on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 12:16 pm 


    Instead of immigrating Muslims into all those EU countries losing population, what you need is a war to jump start sex. The dried up men just need a shot of action to get motivated.
    Quit blaming your own women and dust off the battle axe and be a man.

  22. fmr-paultard on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 12:51 pm 

    seriously, maximum estimate gave ((supreme tard)) the age of 36 when he got strung up. Nobody in their right mind would trust any tard younger than 50. who would trust a scoreless guy anyway

    When he’s not busy doing drugs judging from the long hairdo, he gave us Luke 22:36 yeah so all is forgiven.

    Either ((supreme tard)) was insane, a poker player, or naive. gambling with the lives of countless faithfullsfor centuries.

    If papa tard francis won’t wake up and stop kissing filthy muslims’ feet we hope the next grandtard be a Pole! The last one knew how to get the job done with it come to commies

    keep preaching about inferior non muslims. the next batches of healthy muslim males will be eunuchs and taught obedience from early age according to supertard’s understanding of psychology. the non compliant will just simply be killed.

  23. fmr-paultard on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 1:06 pm 

    supertard al-baghdadi and tons of other islamic scholars know exactly what they talk about. what a stupid stupid gamble. when we figure out how to feed muslims into our supertards’ grinder complex, it will be automatic. it will be just like the education industrial complex, the medical industrial complex, the banking industrial complex.

  24. Anonymouse1 on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 1:23 pm 

    The USlmamic states scorched earth tactics in action. Their israeli, uS, british and french military trainers and pys-ops experts taught them well. Anything they cant hold onto for their masters in Tel Aviv\washingdum, gets destroyed. The more toxic, the better. Whether its destroying world heritage sites, or oil wells, its all the same to them. Tel aviv and its minions will milk faux-outrage and propaganda for the first, and silently congratulate each other for helping keep Iraq ungovernable in cases of the second.

    But who cares right? Just collateral damage to sick, bastards like clogg-zimmer and the exceptionlist. Like the retards who wrote this dumbass piece. The idea being peddled here is its something called ‘ISIS’ that is is pretty much exclusively to blame. The farticle completely omits the jewNited states role for making all this possible in the first place.

    Pablum for retards like the exceptionalist, boatietard, cloggen-zimmer, who love their lurid tales of the USlamic state, and the heroic, lonely effort of the uS and its endless valiant struggle to ‘defeat’ them.

  25. Boat on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 2:04 pm 

    The black president Obama actually gets the credit for turning the fight to Muslim on Muslim with oil dollars funding the projects. As it should be.
    The idea is to keep oil flowing for the world economy which the enemy just doesn’t seem to grasp. Acts of terror against oil consumers and producers invite intervention.
    As the US becomes energy secure the EU and Asia will have to take on more of the cost and responsibility simply because they are much more dependant.
    There is one thing much worse than war over energy security. The worlds imploding economics from not enough of it.

  26. Davy on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 2:12 pm 

    Big word mousie1 “Pablum”. I think that defines perfectly your writing style which reflects your personality also. You are a dork:
    “a dull, slow-witted, or socially inept person.”

    Your clinical condition is Avoidant personality disorder (AvPD):
    “is a Cluster C personality disorder. … People with AvPD often consider themselves to be socially inept or personally unappealing and avoid social interaction for fear of being ridiculed, humiliated, rejected or disliked.”

  27. Boat on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 2:13 pm 


    I am not anti Muslim by any stretch of the imagination. In fact the world owes a huge thanks to Muslims who fight the good fight to keep oil flowing. I hope we reach a day oil dependency ebbs to the point oil wars shrink from lack of demand.

  28. JuanP on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 2:38 pm 

    Micromind “Madkat and clog have micro penis’s”
    Better to have a micro penis than a micromind. You made five grammatical errors in that two sentence comment, illiterate retard.

  29. JuanP on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 2:48 pm 

    Micromind “Who’s ready for Spring?”
    I can finally give you a gold star for writing one comment without making any grammatical mistakes. It was just one five word sentence, but it qualifies because the only requirement was that the comment be error free. Congratulations, Micromind! It only took you about a week, illiterate idiot! I look forward to the next one! LOL! Go back to posting the same links over and over again like a broken record and bragging about your intelligence and education, fool!

  30. JuanP on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 2:49 pm 

    As a US taxpayer my only wish regarding Iraq is that the US get out of there ASAP!

  31. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 3:43 pm 


    You aren’t a tax payer you are on welfare like all your Mexican friends! Better run for the border! And dry that back off!

  32. JuanP on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 5:39 pm 

    Micromind, I have been a US taxpayer for 28 years. My wife has been a US taxpayer for 25. I have never received a penny from the US government and I never will. I am independently wealthy and have been all my life. I have paid for everything I have consumed in cash all my life. My only Mexican friend is a multimillionaire; and she is the niece of the richest Uruguayan on the planet (worth more than a billion dollars). And I came to the USA in a plane with a work contract for a very large multinational corporation. You, on the other hand, are a racist, ignorant, illiterate, retarded fool. It is because of assholes like you that most of the world despises Americans.

  33. peakyeast on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 5:43 pm 

    Cost of Iraq war: 2 trillion $

    People killed in Iraq: 500.000

    Inhabitants Iraq: (2003) 25million

    2 trillion / 25 million = 80.000$

    You could have given every single person in Iraq a grand house with a car for the money you wasted on killing ½ million people

    2 trillion / 500.000 = 4 million $ per killed person.

    I have to say it to you USA / Pentagon, but you better play retard bingo full-time instead – because you TOTALLY SUCK at waging war.

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