10 of the sites are irradiated according to Iraq’s nuclear decommission agency. Three of them are around the former Tuwaitha nuclear facility just outside of Baghdad. Others are former research centers around the capital. All of these places were either bombed during the Gulf War or the 2003 U.S. invasion, or dismantled by United Nations’ inspectors. The head of the decommission agency said that even with the best help those sites wouldn’t be cleaned before 2020. Other areas, such as scrap yards are also contaminated by radiation, thought to come from the use of depleted uranium munitions by the United States in the two wars. There are also fears that the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar province are similarly affected.
Southern Iraq is facing poisoning from dioxins. In Basra for example, the soil is being contaminated from the oil pipelines. The Environment Minister warned that this is leading to the deterioration of farmland in the governorate.
So far the government has focused upon areas that have been affected by the two wars, but there are plans to check the entire country. Some of these areas are also facing high rates of cancer and birth defects, but there is no direct correlation yet between that and the contamination. This is another troubling report for Iraq that already suffers from poor health conditions.
Chulov, Martin, “Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds,” Guardian, 1/22/10