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U.S. military turns Iraq into a toxic dump of oil drums and acid cans, investigation finds

BY Sean Alfano


An Iraqi woman carries a sack over her shoulder as she makes her way to the garbage dump close to where she and her family live on the southern outskirts of the city of Karbala.

June 14, 2010

When U.S. forces depart Iraq this summer, seven years of war won't be all they leave behind.

Large amounts of toxic waste from U.S. bases have been dumped throughout the country, according to an investigation by the Times of London.

The probe spans five provinces and reveals a grim landscape of hazardous trash and sickened Iraqis.

The junk includes leaky oil drums seeping into the soil and half-empty cans of sulfuric acid.

Pentagon rules state toxic waste cannot be dumped locally, even if the containers are empty, the Times reports.

One private contractor reports 11 million pounds of hazardous waste has been left behind by U.S. troops.

The materials allegedly end up mixed with recyclable materials and sent from U.S. bases to Iraqi scrap yards.

The workers now complain the poisonous chemicals are wreaking havoc with their health.

"Some got rashes and many quit work. So when I get this kind of material now I bury it somewhere far away," one scrap yard owner told the Times.

An Iraqi who runs a company that disposes of U.S. military waste since the war began defended American contractors. "The Americans properly separate the hazardous material from the plastic and scrap metal," Qahtan Khalaf said.

He pinned the blame on Lebanese and Kuwaiti companies who receive the recycled parts, then mix it with the toxic material and send it back to Iraq. "That's how they get rid of things."

So far, the military has been slow to respond.

"There is a variety of ways in which this [dumping] could have happened," Brigadier-General Stephen Lanza, a U.S. military spokesman, told the newspaper. "We are now putting a system into place. There is a lot of catching up to do."

Iraq's environmental minister says a formal investigation has started.

President Obama plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq by Aug. 31, leaving up to 50,000 soldiers in the country to advise Iraqi security forces.

:: Article nr. 67015 sent on 14-jun-2010 18:18 ECT


Link: www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2010/06/14/2010-06-14_us_military_turns_iraq_into

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